On a mountaintop in the austerely beautiful countryside near Mudgee, in central western New South Wales, sits a solitary, copper-clad tower. Pared back and seemingly simple, it is a permanent campsite – the ultimate bush escape- for a Sydney graphic designer.
“It is a place where you feel on top of the world,” says architect Rob Brown of Casey Brown Architecture, who relished the challenge to design a small retreat for just one or two persons on this remote site. The land, at the tip of a finger ridge at the highest point on the mountain above thickly wooded valleys, looks out to the horizon through clear inland air. To the north, flashes of light from a distant reservoir reflect the endless sky. Nearer are giant granite boulders and the skeletons of ring-barked trees, while a copse of native gum trees to the south shelters from the westering sun. There is no sign of habitation anywhere.
The hut is basic, not for everyone. But for the client, who grew up on a nearby sheep station, it represents a poignant homecoming. As a boy, it was campsite he discovered on horseback, to visit and take in the panorama, revelling in the sense of distance and freedom. Years later, as an adult working in the city, he was able to acquire the beautiful 800 hectare block adjoining his parents’ property.
“It’s a creative person’s retreat,” says Brown. “You can climb to the top of a mountain and be at one with nature, and rather than walking down again you can stay to enjoy the sunset, the sunrise, the storms, a warm fire – without the effort of pitching an actual tent. The ability to go to a place and be in solitude, to retreat from the city, from civilisation, is romantic – something perhaps we all secretly long for”.