During the late-afternoon drive from Brisbane to the Scenic Rim, the sun casts a magical spell as it sits low in the sky over Yugambeh country. Little wonder photographers call this the ‘golden hour’. The beauty and serenity of the landscape is utterly bewitching.
By the time we navigate the gravel road leading into The Overflow Estate 1895 and pull up at the WanderPod that will be our home for the next two nights, an almost full moon is already visible. Each of the five ‘pods’ on the estate has its own appeal. Ours, the delightfully named Crumpet, is said to be the best for open sky star gazing but as dusk gives way to darkness, it is too cloudy to see any stars. The stage is set for rain.
Not to worry, there’s a log fire to be lit, a bottle of The Overflow Estate bubbles to be enjoyed with our cheese and bikkies, and a king-sized bed with divine flax linen sheets to sink into. Life is good.
Wander at The Overflow 1895 is sustainable-luxury accommodation in the heart of the Scenic Rim, a region marked by the sweeping valleys and mountain ranges of an ancient caldera. Less than 90 minutes’ drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, it was listed as one of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions to Travel in the world for 2022.
Writer and adventurer Arthur Groom gave the region its evocative name in the mid-1900s and campaigned for the protection of its now World Heritage-listed rainforests. Rich volcanic soil sustains an abundance of rural enterprises, tourism ventures, and food and wine producers. Cheese, camel milk, macadamias, honey, lavender, and coffee are among products that can be bought direct from the farm gate. The region’s winter harvest festival, Eat Local Week, champions this feast of produce and the people behind it.
Wander is a relatively new venture, opening its first cabins – or pods as it calls them – in late 2021 on The Overflow 1895, a 4,000-acre estate that also supports a vineyard, cellar door, cattle grazing and beautiful old homestead. Wander is a new travel brand designed to cater for people seeking “transformational travel and regional experiences” that are environmentally conscious and sustainable. (More locations are planned for Kangaroo Valley, the Grampians, Snowy Mountains, and elsewhere.)
The five one- and two-bedroom pods on The Overflow 1895 are in secluded locations around the estate. Overlooking Lake Wyaralong with views to the mountains in the distance, they are quite distant from each other, which ensures great privacy. Note that this means a fair walk or even a drive if you are travelling in a group and want to book more than one.
Crumpet is named after a mountain to the south-west. In an open clearing surrounded by bush, its view is punctuated by a single magnificent fig tree standing sentinel as it surely has done for more than a century. A swing hanging from one of the branches brings out the inner child in me. We can just make out a view of the vineyard in the distance, covered in bird netting, a long way away.
The pod is designed for simplicity with wooden floors and little in the way of decorative touches. If truth be told, it’s a little dark for our liking, with black walls and black bathroom fittings that mean turning on the light to find the tap even during the day. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows ensure the living area is bathed in light till early afternoon but arriving at dusk makes it difficult to locate things in the dimly lit room. It isn’t until the next morning that we discover items like a chopping board that would have been useful when making dinner.
With self check-in (using a pin number to retrieve the key), there’s no-one to tell you where the torch is or how the air-conditioner works (it’s solar-powered so only works during the day, plus it’s only for cooling; if you want heating, you’ll have to light the fire). A compendium would have been handy to explain some of this and to highlight any walking tracks on the property. We couldn’t see any tracks through the bush apart from the road we had come in on, but the weather during our stay wasn’t conducive to exploring.
The pods are off-grid – a great attraction for eco-conscious travellers – so it’s somewhat ironic that essential information is only available on a device and not in a book on the coffee table. There are, however, a couple of beautiful books about the Scenic Rim on the table, providing me with hours of joy during our one full day in this peaceful sanctuary. There’s no TV to interrupt the peace, but there is a Bose Bluetooth speaker and good, free wi-fi. Three games are provided, mostly of the ‘get to know your partner and yourself’ variety, but we’re content to relax, read and watch the rain.
Admirably, the pods have a light footprint. As well as being powered by the sun, they have large rainwater tanks that provide for all drinking, cooking and cleaning needs (water is filtered and topped up if there is a long dry spell, although that’s unlikely to be an issue while La Niña is playing her tricks). The high-tech flush toilets are water-saving, greywater is recycled, and compost bins are provided.
I love that they use Who Gives A Crap toilet paper, just as I do at home, and their refillable bottles of hand wash, body wash, shampoo and conditioner contain luxe products made with native ingredients such as lemon myrtle, eucalypt, tea tree and lily pilly. Being solar-powered limits the number of appliances that can operate, hence the absence of toasters, microwave ovens and hairdryers. For the same reason, only some of the pods have an oven and a dishwasher. Crumpet doesn’t. It does, however, have a coffee machine for our morning fix.
All the pods have a gas cooktop and outdoor gas barbecue but since the weather forces us to stay indoors, it’s time to get creative – especially since Maurie bought a ready-prepared meal that needs to be heated in an oven. It’s amazing what you can turn out in a frypan when you need to. Firewood and a fire starter kit are provided for the barbecue, log fire and outdoor fire pit.
The kitchenette has a decent-sized fridge stocked with breakfast provisions, most of them locally sourced, including muesli, yoghurt, honey, and two of the cutest little watermelons you’ve ever seen. Most importantly, there’s also a bottle of The Overflow Estate 1895 Storm Cru Sparkling White 2016 in the fridge. This Methode Traditionelle Chardonnay Pinot Noir is made with fruit from the nearby Granite Belt and entices with its delicate strawberry and nougat notes.
The pod is stocked with basic supplies such as olive oil, salt and pepper, but an element of planning is needed when it comes to meals. All bookings include a light breakfast and a bottle of wine but for anything else, the nearest small town is a 15-minute drive away. Guests are encouraged to order a Scenic Rim Farm Box so there’ll be some supplies waiting for you on arrival (it’s nice to support local). Alternatively, bring a cooler bag stocked with your favourite provisions. The Overflow 1895 cellar door offers an antipasto menu on Wednesdays and Thursdays (11am-2pm) and a gourmet grazing menu on Fridays (11am-3pm) and weekends (10am-4pm).
On our first night, we cook mouth-watering steaks bought from the Standard Market Company before sleeping soundly in one of Crumpet’s two bedrooms. Separated by the bathroom, each has a king-sized bed but we choose this one because its floor-to-ceiling window frames the fig tree perfectly. What a view to wake up to! With mist rolling in over the mountains and the lake, it is almost ethereal, the tranquility embroidered with the sound of prolific bird life – kookaburras laughing, magpies carolling, willy wagtails chirping. It’s a twitcher’s dream.
We sit on the deck with mugs of T2 tea but by 1pm the sun has gone and the rain set in, forcing us to take refuge in the cosy lounge. What to do? Plenty or nothing! Wander at The Overflow 1895 has some specially curated experiences including farm visits, hot air balloon rides, on-site yoga, meditation and massage, or bespoke walking tours with a local guide who can tell you lots of stories about this ancient land. These require advance notice and should be sorted out at the time of booking.
If you want to self-drive around the region, Wander recommends allowing a day for each point of the compass. The region is huge and certainly not one to be rushed. For us, a lazy afternoon gives way to a glorious sunset, followed by another good night’s sleep and an 11am checkout (popping the key back in the box where we found it).
Before leaving the Scenic Rim, we call into The Overflow Estate 1895 cellar door, an edgy modern building nestled amongst the gums and vines. Back on the road, the rain has stopped, the sun is shining, and the landscape is once again a picture.
If you go:
Wander at The Overflow 1895
1660 Beaudesert-Boonah Rd,
Wyaralong, Queensland 4310
Tel: +61 (0)2 9055 7747
For information about Wander:
For information about the Scenic Rim:
Back To Nature, a series that screened last year on the ABC, took viewers on a journey through Yugambeh Country. You can see it here on ABC iView or watch this trailer on YouTube. It’s one of my favourite shows of all time. Watch it and be reminded of how blessed we are to live on this land that our First Nations people have called home for 60,000+ years.
With thanks to Wander at The Overflow 1895 for hosting our two-night stay. It was a privilege to experience this beautiful property.
Here’s a sneak preview of WanderPod on Kangaroo Island, which is taking bookings for stays from December 1, 2022.