There are moments during my all to brief liaison with Stella the Stargazer, where I think I could sell my house, burn my possessions and bunker down in this shantytown dream-shack forever. Like sunrise, when I raise my head from under a mountain of quilts to see an ocean of orange spreading over the Newry Flats. The mobile, off-grid tiny house is parked up among the vines at Blue Gables Vineyard, in the shire of Maffra, a dairying district in Gippsland, 220km east of Melbourne. Sunlight caresses the leaves and it feels like I’m floating in a lime-coloured sea. In this moment I have everything I need. Well, almost everything.

I reluctantly climb out of my nest. Among the myriad of artisanal provisions on the bench is an old coffee grinder (begone the infernal pod machine!), into which I pour fresh beans and get to work on the crankshaft. A heavenly aroma fills the room. Transforming the fine dust into a life-infusing hot drink is also done by hand, using an espresso maker with manually operated levers. It requires teeth-gritting exertion to force the hot water through the grind, and with trembling triceps I climb back into bed to resume my love affair with life.

The moment epitomises my fling with the ephemeral Stella, who’ll be stealing hearts for the next few months in different locations across regional Victoria. Life is distilled to its most simple pleasures, stripped of all unnecessary distractions. That includes space. Built by design company Ample from the salvaged timber and steel of an old woolshed, Stella appears equal parts gypsy caravan, grandad’s shed, and trash ‘n’ treasure market. Victorian history buffs might even detect a nod to the so-called “Dudley Mansions” – ad-hoc, slum dwellings built around the time of the Great Depression from scrounged materials. This though, is calculated dishevelment, her cobbled-together appearance belying the artfully precise workmanship that affords guests so many creature comforts…

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