Rocky Hills luxury retreat in Tasmania
How Rocky Hills luxury retreat in Tasmania makes a difference
We subscribe to the tenet that good environmental practice and good business practice are mutually reinforced. Avalon Coastal Retreat and Rocky Hills Retreat share a culture of sustainability with an emphasis on environmental sustainability that is demonstrated throughout the organisation. Our owner Brett is currently completing her Masters of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) through Murdoch University. As a consequence, ESD principles have been integral to our planning and development.
As part of Brett’s commitment we have policies and practices in place to minimise our environmental impact.
Avalon Coastal Retreat (and our nearby sister property Rocky Hills Retreat) form part of a larger land holding of Rocky Hills. The 250 acre treed section of Rocky Hills has been placed under a Private Forest Reserve. This covenant protects the land in perpetuity from logging, farming, clearing and provides a framework for the ongoing State Government supported management plan for the site to protect the flora and fauna and manage any pests.
And the fauna we are protecting? If you are watchful you will see the large pair of wedge- tailed eagles pass the house. This subspecies from Tasmania has a wingspan of up to 2.2m and is listed as endangered with fewer than 200 pairs left in the wild. They are truly majestic so keep your eyes open. The resident kookaburras have an interesting daily routine and will be very interested in who is staying the house, so – say hello! The finches and robins get busy early in the day and the Black Cockatoos – well you can hear them coming for miles. The owls’ mo-poke in the night and the sound is wonderful. Naturally in the Australian bush keep an eye out for snakes. We have not seen one in four years of wandering about the site but they must be there somewhere. There is a lovely lizard with a red head that has decided to take up residence on the track near the stone cairn. He is very comfortable and we have had to drive around him as he is blissfully warming his tummy on the stones. The possums come out just after dark – they usually come to inspect the BBQ – just to see if we have left anything out.
Rocky Hills Retreat has motion sensor lights, so be aware while relaxing in the evening if you are suddenly dazzled by the lights – look around, you might see a wallaby or two. And our most vigilant guests may be rewarded with spotting a spotted quoll, but only the very lucky.
At Avalon Coastal Retreat and Rocky Hills Retreat, sustainability is a central focus and even though concrete and glass have high embodied energy we believe this is off-set in the long life of the building and the thermal mass provided by the central core and concrete floor in particular.
The power for Rocky Hills Retreat is provided by a stand alone solar hybrid system incorporating 15, 165 W solar panels run by an inverter charger with smarts to manage the battery bank and back up diesel generator. The system is designed to cope with regular energy demand, as well as peak demand, when everything is on and then someone decides to cook toast. However if the demand for power is increased or we have reduced sunlight hours the generator is designed to automatically start and produce 9KVA, sufficient power to run two retreats.
We have also provided an energy use monitor for you to understand the energy you consume. On average Australians use 15 to 20 KwH per household per day. The retreat is designed to use a maximum of about 8 KwH per day, so see how you go!
As part of the studies undertaken by Brett, she has reviewed 104 ‘Green’ tourism accreditation programs then undertook a detailed review of the top three in use worldwide. ACR and RHR have not officially become an accredited business under any of these systems, however we have instituted many of the applicable initiatives and processes from the very best programs.
Friends & Neighbours
We are actively involved in the local tourism industry. Our manager, Alison Wallace has been a member of the local Swansea Chamber of Commerce & Tourism for five years. The group meets monthly to discuss issues relating to all tourism businesses on the east coast. It is a great way to stay in touch with all issues affecting local Swansea businesses and allows us to have a voice and be involved with making decisions regarding the local community. It also allows two-way feedback and information for our guests and staff.
Alison, takes part in “group famils” that last year included a visit to nearby tourism locations. These site visits are invaluable as they give us the opportunity to look inside other east coast businesses and hear passionately from the owners themselves about their tourism experience. This information can then be passed on to you, our guests and is a great way of informing you about local services. Attending famils is also a great way to network with other members of the tourism industry. Last year, Alison visited new businesses around the state such as Saffire Freycinet at Coles Bay, Dragonfly Lodge (also at Rocky Hills) and MONA in Hobart so we can continue to keep you updated on other holiday destinations. We like to be able to inform staff and guests of choices and experiences that are available elsewhere in Tasmania.
Avalon is also a popular wedding venue, which has a flow on effect to local tourism and businesses. When we hold wedding ceremonies and functions at Avalon, the entire town of Swansea becomes booked out and local services such as caterers, florists, hairdressers, shuttle bus operators, marriage celebrants, equipment hirers, are all busy! Many of our brides and grooms are from interstate bringing guests from interstate to their ceremony – these family members and friends regularly holiday in Tasmania afterwards. A wedding at Avalon is a big event – and the ripples for tourism in the State run far and wide.
Avalon stock a full range of complementary brochures and current restaurant menus from local and state businesses for guests, as well as promoting local tourism, services and businesses in our compendium. The brochures and information are updated regularly according to any business operational changes.
Avalon recently hosted the launch of the East Coast Zone Marketing Group, which attracted almost 50 tourism operators to Rocky Hills and Swansea. We support and are members of the Freycinet Tourism Association.
In July 2007, we initiated the formation of a local community group called ‘The Friends of Rocky Hills Inc’, of which Alison our manager is President. The group has 20 active members (not bad from a place with a population of 21) and its agenda has included issues such as road safety for the Tasman Highway; an art project to beautify the coastline and to put Rocky Hills on the map; and commissioning a cultural heritage report on the 1834 convict coach road that runs along the coast. This report will provide a guide for management of the deteriorating road and we plan to seek grant assistance for the restoration and management works. The group also plans to plant endemic vegetation, particularly the Oyster Bay Pine Tree. The group participates in the annual Clean Up Australia Day. The vision, interest and enthusiasm of this new group resulted in an interview on ABC Talkback Radio with Alison, who is in her fifth year of being President. This year the group received a grant to design and develop a shorebird interpretation sign for the nearby Mayfield conservation area.
Local Crafts & Culture
Avalon and Rocky Hills were both planned to sit comfortably within their environments and not dominate. It is critical that building scale and infrastructure are within the context of its surroundings and community. Both were designed to use local materials where possible. Our best demonstration of this is the Avalon stone walls and plinth. Local stone was used and was constructed using traditional east coast dry stone technique where engineering constraints permitted.
Part of the culture of any local area is understanding its natural heritage. We commissioned a local nurseryman to collect seeds of the local indigenous plants and propagate them for use in our indigenous demonstration garden. We also commissioned an aboriginal archaeology study for the site and sought advice regarding aboriginal heritage material.
We support local social, community and sporting groups by sponsorship, the donation of prizes or the use of Avalon and Rocky Hills Retreat for small functions. We support the bi-annual Glamorgan Spring Bay Art Prize and exhibition; in 2009 we sponsored the ‘Rocky Hills Award for Drawing’ category, which attracted 140 entries both local and state-wide and last year we sponsored the ‘Rocky Hills Award for Best Landscape’ category, which attracted over 600 people over the long weekend in June.
Both retreats are filled with art and sculpture and bespoke pieces collected and/or commissioned by Brett from local Tasmanian artists and craftsmen.The feature art piece at Rocky Hills Retreat is by Hobart artist Mandy Renard. Mandy studied printmaking at the University of Tasmania and is represented by the Handmark Gallery in Salamanca Place in Hobart. The work is called ‘bless’ and it perfectly expresses the open heartedness, the peaceful and loving ambiance of the space.
We have also sponsored Salon South, an initiative from the University of Tasmania’s School of Philosophy, Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society on the ideas agenda for Tasmania. This series of conversations demands strategic collaboration and focused, intelligent and applied attention to challenges facing current and future leaders across the public and private sectors, who are committed to arriving at workable and sustainable solutions.
Rocky Hills luxury retreat in Tasmania