Tasmania’s North West is wild, rugged, and naturally beautiful – all good reasons to venture there. Driving to her accommodation at Moina near Cradle Mountain, Jennifer met an unexpected adventure. The Tiny Escapes website describe its cabins as ‘wild tiny escapes’, and Jennifer’s overnight experience was one of the WILDEST of her life.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Palawa people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Driving From Stanley to Moina on a Windy Day in June

One of the many things I love about Tasmania is that nothing is too far. I was on the northwest coast of the Apple Isle, exploring in and around the coastal town of Stanley.

On the morning I was leaving I had hoped to climb to the top of the Nut, a volcanic plug that rises 150 metres from the ocean. Its rugged shape dominates the skyline and is the first thing you see when driving into Stanley.

But the chairlift wasn’t operating because of strong winds and there was no chance of walking up the trail traversing the side of the Nut with wind squalls trying to knock me over sideways.

Read more: Best 6 Tasmania Road Trips 2023

Moina is the last town before Cradle Mountain and is close to my next destination, a leisurely two hour drive heading inland and south.

Read more: How To See Cradle Mountain in 24 Hours or Less

Alluvial gold was discovered in the area in 1858 followed by tin and tungsten in the late 1890s and early 20th century bringing an influx of miners to the region. Today most visitors to Moina are on their way to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, one of Tasmania’s most popular destinations.



I was looking forward to checking into my accommodation for the night, a fully self-contained, off-grid cabin called ‘Dogwood, one of five standalone self-contained tiny houses that are part of Tiny Escapes.

These are located within 260 acres of privately owned land that borders the Black Bluff Conservation Area. And from Tiny Escapes, Cradle Mountain is an easy half-hour drive.

After a couple of stops on the way (picking up a few yummy treats on the Cradle Tasting Trail and a stroll along Boat Harbour Beach) the GPS took me via Wilmot – 67km south of the port city of Burnie.

On the quiet country roads occasionally the wind nudged my rental car, but I had no idea there was a ‘significant’ weather event building over northeast Tasmania. Wilmot to Moina via Cradle Mountain Road is only 16km. But that’s where things became sketchy.

On Cradle Mountain Road, about 3km from the turnoff to Tiny Escapes, the wind had gathered in strength. Tall trees on either side of the road were dipping and swaying like drunken sailors.

The cars in front of me had stopped and a woman walked towards my car. She told me that up ahead fallen trees were on the road and they were entangled with live power lines. ‘You’ll have to turn around,’ she said. To where I wondered? My accommodation at Tiny Escapes is just up the road!

A few cars in front made a U-turn heading back giving me a clear look at the trees over the road. It looked sketchy! As I was contemplating my options, the car in front inched forward, attempting to navigate around the fallen trees. My car was about the same size, so I figured if they made it ok, I would too.

They did, so I cautiously followed, manoeuvring slowly past, the tips of branches scraping against the side of the car. A few minutes later the GPS indicated that I was at my destination. But I wasn’t. There was no driveway or sign for Tiny Escapes.

I continued driving and in a few minutes I saw a signpost: ‘Tiny Escapes’. I indicated I was turning right and attempted to slow down, but with a vehicle close on my tail, my turn into the driveway was ‘hasty’.

As I drove in, the wheel on the front left passenger side dipped suddenly and I heard a loud crunching sound. My heart skipped a beat.

I slid the car in ‘park’ mode and hopped out to inspect the damage. I’d driven over a drainage channel with a cement ridge approximately knee height. The bumper was cracked on the left side, the plastic that protects the wheel was also cracked, and flapping loose in parts. I felt sick.

What was I to do? There was no one around. It would be dark in about 20 minutes. My only option was to drive on and find my cabin, then assess what to do about the damage.

Welcome to Tiny Escapes in the Cradle Valley

Tiny Escapes is in a remote wilderness area, so a map is required for first time visitors unsure of the location of the cabins (like me). I passed an open gate with the words ‘Escape the ordinary’ emblazoned across it.

To the left I saw lights on at the big house – Blackjack. Phew! I’d made it to Tiny Escapes. The wind was gusting, the rain blowing sideways, the windscreen wipers were at full capacity swishing left to right. Eventually I located a cabin – but it was ‘Myrtle’ not ‘Dogwood.’


Wild Night, Tiny House: Staying in Cabins Half an Hour From Cradle Mountain, Jennifer Johnston, credit: tiny escapes photography

By Tiny Escapes Photography

It was almost 5pm, daylight was fading fast. Flustered, I messaged Jess to ask if I was close to Dogwood. Her reply: ‘Howdy, yes, Dogwood is two doors across on the other end. I would suggest parking in the second park area.’

I finally found Dogwood, parked the car and hopped out. The damage didn’t look great, but at least it was driveable. I threw my rain jacket on grabbing things I needed for the tiny house cabin. The rain eased and I saw my home for the night. It was love at first sight.

Keyless entry systems are great unless your hands are cold, wet, and shaking! The wind gusts didn’t help either but somehow, I managed to open the front door.

The interior looked welcoming: cosy, modern, clean, and SAFE! I returned to the car to grab a few more things when a white 4WD pulled up. Husband and wife, Darren and Jess came to say hello and check that I was ok.

I felt ready to cry but held my tears back and told them about the incident with the drain. ‘Oh gees no one has ever done that before!’ Darren said.

‘Thanks Darren, that makes me feel better,’ I replied with a feeble attempt at a laugh. Darren took a quick look over the car damage. He said he’d come back in the morning when there was more light. ‘I’ll duct tape up the loose bits,’ he said confidently. ‘It’ll be right!’

They grabbed a few items from my car and we walked down the slope into the cabin.  Darren explained how to use the diesel heater and within minutes my tiny cabin filled with toasty warm air.

I wanted to hear the backstory about how they started a tiny cabin business in the wilderness (they opened in February 2022) and asked if they had five minutes to chat.

A Stormy Night in Learning About Tiny Escapes

The surrounding land was virgin bush until miners arrived in the late 1800s looking for minerals and in the 1940s and 50s the area was selectively logged.

Jess said there are felled logs on the property with axe and cross cuts ‘And some eucalyptus and Tassie Oak trees have marks where the loggers placed planks to scale them to cut surrounding trees down,’ she said. ‘And there were virtually no trails when we purchased the land.’


By Tiny Escapes Photography

As we were talking a strong wind gust blew and the large lounge window shook in its frame. I expressed my concern but Darren wasn’t worried, ‘That’s just the glass flexing. It won’t blow in because everything is built to a specific building standard.’ 

For years Darren, Jess and their kids holidayed on the land next to where Tiny Escapes is now. When the land came up for sale the couple saw it as an opportunity to create cabins replicating the holidays they’d enjoyed. ‘Escapes in the wilderness, but with a luxury and sustainable component.’

Darren’s a qualified builder with his own building business. With a small team, they built both the Tiny Cabins and Blackjack. The cabins were constructed off site and then transported into the property.

‘We’re very conscious of our footprint on the land. We had to clear land around the cabins for bushfire regulations, but we’re replanting to regenerate what we had to remove,’ Jess adds.

Knowing it was only four months after their opening I asked if they’d been through any weather events like this one. Nope, this was their first!  ‘But you’ll be right here,’ Darren says confidently. ‘Just bunker down.’

When they left I poured myself a (large) glass of red wine – smiling at the irony of the wine’s name, Storm Bay, a Tasmanian Pinot Noir from the Coal River Valley. As wind gusts whipped continuously around the cabin I cooked dinner.

Inside the cabin, the space may be small (hence the name tiny escapes,) but I had everything I needed in the fully equipped kitchen.

I sat and ate at the table near the large window. Outside, beyond the rain-spattered glass a vast expanse of darkness gave nothing away. Thankfully, the bathroom and toilet were all inside. No need to venture out in that foul weather.

When it was time for bed, I turned the heater off as Darren suggested. (He said the rising heat fills the small cabin and can feel too hot to sleep).

I climbed the steps to my loft bed and lay there, listening to the howling wind. I was worried about a tree falling on the cabin or the rental car, but there wasn’t anything I could do.

I was cocooned inside my tiny house. I had power – thanks to the off-grid set up. With ear plugs inserted, I read for a while and eventually fell asleep.

I woke up at 7am. It was quiet. The howling winds had abated. The skylight above my head showed a blue sky streaked with white clouds.

From Tiny Escapes to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

In the daylight, the view from the lounge window was simply breathtaking. I stepped outside and onto the deck into the crisp air.

My phone app indicated the temperature was a very fresh zero degrees! I rugged up to combat the chill and hiked down to the Iris River, guided by bright pink ribbons tied around random tree branches.

The Iris River meanders from Cradle Mountain through the Tiny Escapes property and into Moina. Darren said trout swim in its chilly waters and you can attempt to catch them.

Without any fishing gear I walked along the river bank enjoying the soothing sound of the babbling water after my drama-filled arrival the day before.



An alternative walk on the property is to Hinman Falls which flows into the Iris River. But with very little spare time on my hands I had to choose between Hinman and Bridal Veil Falls, Crown land opposite and further down the road from Tiny Escapes. 

I chose Bridal Veil Falls as Darren said it was spectacular. This hike was challenging. Again there was no trail, just dense bush and random pink ribbons to follow.

Plenty of fallen trees to scale and slide over and random spots where I sank into the decomposing forest floor. What I anticipated would be 30 minutes down turned into 45, then 65 minutes.

Finally I found a stream and a path. I’d arrived where I thought the Bridal Veil Falls were. I’d not seen a photo and Darren mentioned they were pretty epic. What I was looking at was nice, but certainly not what I would call an ‘epic’ waterfall!

Later that evening at my next destination, Jess messaged asking if I enjoyed Bridal Veil Falls. I replied that it was an effort but they were ok and sent this image:


What I thought were the Bridal Veil Falls was not the Bridal Veil Falls!

She messaged back: Did you make it all the way down?

Apparently, I wasn’t far from the falls. It was upstream and a little to the right (where I went left!) I guess I’ll have to visit them next time.

The climb back was tough and when I finally made it to the road snowflakes were falling. I jumped into the car and quickly switched on the heat.

I gulped down some water, grabbed a chunk of chocolate from my food bag and entered the GPS coordinates for Sheffield. Ready for my next adventure. Hopefully with less drama.


Disclaimer: The writer was a guest of Tiny Escapes. All views expressed are her own.

Feature photo by Tiny Escapes Photography