Tamar Solarhome is an experimental prototype, designed and built in an ambitious attempt to create the world's most energy efficient, self-sufficient, and durable house; powered by solar panels and batteries alone, while also being cyclone-proof, fire-proof, and virtually maintenance free. The Solarhome was completed in 2017 and arguably achieved many of its goals. It has all the mod cons and comfort expected of a luxurious modern home, but is so energy-efficient that it can be 100% electrically powered throughout the year (including air conditioning, heating, cooking, and hot water) with no grid connection, and no need of oil, gas, or a wood fire to be thermally comfortable in all seasons, including a cold Tasmanian winter. However, it was expensive to build (almost twice the cost of a similar-sized conventional home), and did eventually require a small petrol-fueled backup generator to ensure 100% reliability when extreme weather conditions combined with heavy power consumption. But it is a remarkably quiet comfortable home, with a unique healthy ambience and is now available on Airbnb as a holiday rental so guests can experience it for themselves.
The 170m² two-bedroom Solarhome is super insulated, super energy efficient, and super robust; essentially consisting of a 150mm-thick concrete outer shell (including the roof, walls, and floor), with an unbroken internal layer of 250mm-thick polystyrene insulation in the walls, ceiling, and floor, triple-glazing, airtight construction, heat-pump-generated hot water and internal air heating, 25 high-performance solar panels, and a massive battery bank designed to store enough electricity to power an occupied house for 3 days, during winter, even with no solar input at all.
INSIDE there's a large main bedroom with a king-size bed and french doors opening onto a private veranda with an extra-large two-person bath looking out over the back yard and private nature reserve. The second bedroom contains two single beds and built-in wardrobes. A fully equipped kitchen includes an induction glass cook top, convection/microwave oven, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, DeLonghi coffee machine, toaster, and stainless steel cookware. In the spacious bathroom there's a walk-in shower and no shortage of water, with 44,000 litres of stored filtered rainwater. European-style hardwood-framed windows and doors are all triple-glazed and fully screened. Plus there's a large flat screen TV/DVD player, a library of more than 200 DVDs, over 100 books, and fast free wireless internet. And it's healthy; with a constant supply of fresh air provided by the passive ventilation system, and natural materials with non-toxic finishes throughout. Most importantly, the house's unique ultra-low-energy design, combined with energy-efficient heat pumps, helps it maintain a comfortable internal temperature between 20 and 26°C, no matter what the temperature outside.
GREENS BEACH is a small settlement at the northern end of the Tamar Valley, Tasmania's premier wine growing region, with some of Australia's most spectacular coastal walks and unspoilt secluded beaches. It's about an hour's drive from Launceston airport, which is less than an hour's flight from Melbourne, or an hour and a half from Sydney. There's an uncrowded, sheltered swimming beach, a picturesque nine-hole golf course, public tennis courts, friendly locals, and access to a beautiful coastal trail through Narawntapu National Park, containing several even more secluded beaches. And there's an abundance of unique native wildlife. In fact, much to the delight of international visitors, kangaroos really do hop down the main street. But Greens Beach is also the perfect base to explore northern Tasmania, with several internationally renowned vineyards within thirty minutes scenic drive. It's less than two hour's drive to one of Australia's top-ten golf courses at Barnbougle, plus dozens of national park walking trails through some of the world's most pristine wilderness areas. So a week at Greens Beach can be as relaxing or adventurous as you like.
THINGS TO DO
You can spend a whole day exploring Narawntapu National Park on the coastal trail which starts at Greens Beach.
Alternatively, go for a more leisurely walk along Greens Beach, with views of the Tamar River and Low Head lighthouse. Walking all the way to Kelso takes about two hours return.
Play a round of golf at the picturesque nine-hole golf course at Greens Beach Golf Course. If you're a really keen golfer it's only a bit over an hour's drive to two of Australia's top courses at Barnbougle.
Drive fifteen minutes to Beauty Point and enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch at the River Cafe overlooking the Tamar River. While in Beauty Point, check out Platypus House for the opportunity to see these rarely seen creatures close up in their underwater habitat. And just a few kilometres further you can visit the Beaconsfield Mine Museum, at the site of Australia's most infamous recent mine disaster.
Explore the dozens of wineries with restaurants and cellar doors along the Tamar Valley within 30 minutes of Greens Beach, including Holm Oak Vineyards, Iron Pot Bay Vineyards, Goaty Hill Wines, Moores Hill Estate, Loira Vines, Winter Brook Vineyard, Marions Vineyard, Tamar Ridge Cellar Door, and Velo Winery and Cellar Door.
Drive to Low Head (about 50 minutes) to visit the Lighthouse and Pilot Station Museum, and just before dusk to view the penguins coming ashore (best to book ahead at Low Head Penguin Tours). It's also quite possible to make a day trip from Greens Beach to Cradle Mountain; a two-and-a-half hour drive away, but with several lovely little towns to stop at for a meal on the way, and some spectacular scenery, it's a great adventure at any time of the year. So whatever you decide to do, at the end of a relaxing or adventurous day, sit on the Solarhome veranda and enjoy absolute serenity while watching the wallabies peacefully grazing on the lawn, and gazing at the moon and stars in one of the clearest night skies you'll see anywhere in the world.
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