Justine de Jonge is a Melbourne freelance travel writer and blogger who loves travelling the vegan road. She also loves blogging about her vegan travels at www.fireandtea.com .
Published April 17th 2017
Getting off-grid and back to nature at this vegan B&B
A late afternoon sunset casts its golden hue over the acreage below. I'm wandering the fence line of eco-friendly, all vegan Forest Haven Bed & Breakfast and it's as if no one knows where I am or where I've escaped to. The bush is still; kookaburras chuckle before the dark settles in as geese gurgle in their coup all safe from the elements. Chickens peck and fossick in the low-lying grass before their rooster calls them in to bunker down with the geese for the night.
Get off grid at the eco-friendly all vegan Forest Haven B&B
Speckles of granite sparkle just above the trail underfoot. I reach for a small wedge to take home with me as a keepsake; a reminder that I must get out into nature and off grid more often. The hustle and bustle of Melbourne has been left behind and there's no chance of it catching up with the peaceful pace of Beaufort. Leading me back to my lodgings is what seems to be a secret sequence of smoke signals wafting from the Gumnut Cottage's chimney, a toasty gust of heat that warms the dusk chill from my nose and toes as I ease the sliding door open.
Forest Haven is only five kilometres from Beaufort's town centre and a mere two-hour drive from Melbourne; a perfect spot for a weekend getaway or to break up a longer road-trip. Across its nine acres of property, you can say hello to the resident chickens, ducks and geese at dawn or before dusk, be welcomed by host Jo Osborne with rescue sheep and dog in tow as you arrive at the gate. The sheep will say goodnight at the end of the day as you retire from the deck (so inquisitive that they'll try to find you in the morning!).
If you don't want to meander too far away, you can wander the cut lawns, play totem tennis or relax with a good book on the verandah as the sun descends. My recommendation is to take some time out in nature by wandering off-road and through the eucalypt forests surrounding the property. Tufts of wildflowers peek out from the bush greases in the warmer months.
Make your booking for the Gumnut Cottage so you can spend time wildlife spotting – a mob of kangaroos hopping by or lorikeets, rosellas and green parrots playing in the tree-tops. There's no traffic around, just a bed overlooking the yard and forest for complete, uninterrupted comfort.
Mexican salad for dinner and chocolate banana meringues for dessert.
Not many vegan food choices can be found back in Beaufort's main street of shops in town so staying put and ordering from the seasonal, home-cooked menu (with gluten-free options) is an opportunity to sample as much of Jo's cooking as gastronomically possible. Orders do need to be placed before you arrive, once you finalise your booking.
Chickpea curry for dinner and chocolate mousse with berries for dessert.
What is a welcomed interruption? Dinner – a hearty Mexican salad loaded with beans, guacamole and leafy greens garnished by coriander. For dessert is a plate of sweet and crunchy meringues packed with a banana filling, decadent chocolate sauce and toasty flakes of almond. Dinner is served between 6.30pm and 7pm which is perfect for those darker evenings. Night two is saved for a comforting chickpea curry with saffron rice and a cocktail glass of smooth and silky plant-based mousse topped with blushing berries, chocolate shavings and a dusting of icing sugar.
For breakfast, you can't overlook a wholesome serve of vegan favourite fluffy scrambled tofu served on a bed of toast, sliced avocado half – fanned across the plate – grilled tomato cheeks and sautéed mushrooms. Hash-browns are also available, served with house tomato-ey beans and vegan sausages.
Or for a sweeter treat, order a stack of blueberry pancakes with a side of coconut cream and plump berries, all dripping from a pod of cascading maple syrup poured over the top. Glasses of juice are also served and breakfast is delivered to the cottage from 7.30am until 8am. This allows for more hours in the day to go exploring the local sights. Brekkie is included in the rack rate, dinners and desserts cost extra.
Other nice touches – and part of the stay – is a bowl of fresh fruit, magazines to read, a mindfulness colouring book to lose yourself in, warm wood fire, board games and peace and quiet (no TV!) plus extra blankets if the nights turn inclement. The property is powered by solar, with a generator for back-up, and tank water.
Wifi is available on request though try completely switching off to relax and unwind with no other sounds other than the nature around you. You can delve deeper into this densely forested region via a daytrip to the Grampians or Mount Buangor State Park. If you prefer to sit back with a beverage, wine and beer can be purchased from the menu. With two full days at your disposal, why not try doing it all?