The exact origins of the Otways Loft in Forrest (64 kilometres west of Geelong) are murky and kind of mythological. Before Fleur Leslie and her husband purchased it in 2013, the rundown house had been on the market for years – the pair had to wade through knee length grass and dodge rotting floorboards to even inspect it!
‘The original build is reputed to have taken over 5 years,’ says Fleur. ‘The builder lived in a shed on-site, and craned in a train carriage to use as a workshop while building the house.’ This is estimated to have been in the ’70s but prior to that, little is known about the property at all.
‘It’s an eclectic construction, built on a framework of local tree poles. In parts, it is three storeys high,’ describes Fleur. ‘The interior is a mixture of parts from the train carriage, locally felled timber, materials from a nearby church, and other salvaged bits and pieces.’
Apart from being derelict, the interiors of the home were dated and gaudy – when Fleur finally purchased the property, every room was painted a different pastel shade! Seeking to enhance the raw and handmade bones, she embarked on an interior renovation to revive the home’s heritage character. The colourful walls were painted white, the bathrooms re-tiled and the previously disused loft transformed into an entirely new bedroom. Fleur even convinced a holidaying carpenter to stay an extra few days in exchange for a staircase!
Nestled on the edge of the Otways National Park, the rainforest-surrounded cabin sits on the fringes of some seriously lush surrounds (and world-class bike trails and nature walks). The newly-muted surfaces and finishes layer a blanket of calm across the ramshackle house. Its creakiness is now part of its rugged romanticism, emulating the atmosphere of a log cabin in the mountains or a writer’s creative hideaway (‘The design theme is vaguely Hemingway-cabin-in-the-woods,’ says Fleur). The claw-foot bath was hauled upstairs to the main bedroom to overlook thee tree canopy – now that’s dedication!
‘I’m pretty sure there isn’t another three-storey cabin made out of locally felled timber and vintage train parts in the world, but I could be wrong,’ Fleur says. ‘There will be other tree-houses. But not one like this.’
We think she could be right!
Are you keen to visit the Otways Loft? See the listing here to make a booking!
The Otways Loft is just one of Fleur and her partner’s holiday destinations. See the other Dufflebird Getaways locations here!