Set high on a hilltop at Kimo Estate, JR’s Hut offers its occupants peace and tranquility amid a gorgeous country landscape, recently earning the off grid eco hut the number 19 spot on the list of the Top 100 Unique Stays across Australia in the most recent Australian Traveller magazine.
The hut is featured in a double-page spread and is the hero image on the regional page of the magazine’s website. It will also be profiled on Australian Traveller social media accounts in coming weeks.
The accolade comes after a very tough 18 months for the tourism sector, hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.
Owner David Ferguson said a lot of work has been put in at Kimo over the last eight to nine years and the whole family is very proud of what they have been able to achieve through what’s been a tricky few years of droughts and now the pandemic.
“It’s always nice to get some recognition of hard work and backing yourselves in,” David said.
“I think that because the hut is so unique, it sets itself apart from other offerings. We take for granted the rolling hills and meandering river but for people who live cooped up in major cities, the sense of space and scale are so foreign to them.
“They arrive without seeing a person, they spend their time at our huts completely left alone and they leave again without seeing a soul. They’ve probably never had a day in their lives where that happens.”
With New South Wales scheduled to re-open next month, David believes it won’t take long for the sector to get moving again.
He said the pandemic has “smashed us a couple of times”, especially with restrictions in regards to holding weddings at the estate.
“We’ve only been able to run about a fifth of our bookings over the last two years. That’s been a huge loss to us personally, but also a huge loss of flow-on to the town of roughly $2 million for the weddings alone,” he said.
“The accommodation has been pretty strong in between lockdowns, but every Victorian and NSW lockdown has knocked our accommodation.
“I think everybody is looking forward to the re-opening. Our staff have been doing it tough lately, I’m sure they’re keen to get back into it, and our suppliers too. I know they are pretty excited. I’m confident it won’t take long to get going again when they let them loose.”
The estate is currently home to three eco huts, with plans for more.
“We have been working on some major developments while we’ve been locked down. We’re waiting on some certainty before we go ahead, but it’s safe to say we’ll build a few more huts because the demand is there,” David said.
“We will be looking to add more accommodation types to Kimo also, along with hopefully some exciting food and beverage experiences over the next couple of years.
“Flash Jacks will also have some new development opportunities. It’s had a hard early life and is looking forward to some clear air in 2022.”
General manager of Destination Riverina Murray Yvette Myhill said she hopes that the promotion of tourism hero products such as JR’s Hut in Australian Traveller increases interest in Gundagai and surrounds to a much wider audience.
“Which ultimately benefits other tourism businesses and everyone in the local community,” she said.