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Editor's Choice - The Painted Fish

We really are spoiled for choice in Australia, not only because our country features so many different and wonderful landscapes, but also because there are accommodation operators like Shani Graham and Tim Darby, who have taken their love of art, nature and sustainable tourism, and turned it into a unique place to stay, The Painted Fish.

Take an exceptional location like Fremantle, add a mixture of quirky accommodation and a commitment to a greener way of living, and you have a fascinating and sustainable place to stay for a break like no other.

Shani & Tim had several goals when they conceived the idea for The Painted Fish.  They wanted to offer a haven from the noise and ‘busyness’ of the city to relax and inspire; provide short-term accommodation for travellers wishing to reduce their environmental impact on the planet; and they were keen to be a living example of ways to be more sustainable.

The Painted Fish does all this – and more – in a tranquil and eco-friendly way.  The accommodation is made up of several options: the Carriage, the Studio and the Cottage.  Each option has been designed with the same environmental concepts in mind and each has its own personality. Surrounding each accommodation option are water-wise gardens or vegetable patches and central to the property are two large ponds, with several smaller pools hidden away – filled with fish, frogs and yabbies.  The use of photovoltaics, rain-water harvesting, and innovative heating and cooling systems result in the smallest possible carbon footprint.

The most child-friendly option is the Cottage, which sleeps four in two main bedrooms (with queen-size beds) and a smaller loft bedroom.  The Cottage was built in 1897 and still features the original pressed-tin walls and pine ceiling.  The rooms lead out onto a courtyard or verandah and the bathroom features a claw-foot bath built for two.  The sustainable features of the Cottage include a 1.12 kilowatt power array on the roof, a water cooling feature to the south of the house for cooling in summer, and a glass solarium to the north for heating in winter.

The Railway Carriage is ideal budget accommodation for up to two people and features a sitting area and small kitchenette.  There is a lovely courtyard set in the lush gardens, but what makes it unique is the outdoor bathroom!  The shower, toilet and basin are all set in the garden.  The bathroom area is completely private and truly makes you feel one with nature.  The courtyard also features a limestone pond, which is not only a frog habitat – it also cools the area on unusually hot days.

Those who prefer a little more luxury with their eco accommodation need look no further than the Studio, which is ideal for a private break on your own, or a romantic getaway for two.  It has a full kitchen, lounge and dining area and upstairs sleeping room, with a separate but adjacent bathhouse, which features another outside shower. The kitchen and dining room open onto a series of gardens and ponds, and these provide a habitat for native animals – bobtails, frogs, birds, fish and yabbies.  The upstairs loft sleeping room has a queen-size bed and leads to an upstairs breakfast platform nestled amongst the branches of an ancient Japanese pepper tree.

A shared cycle/footpath leads from The Painted Fish to Fremantle – about 10 minutes by bike or 25 minutes on foot and the cycles are provided in order to encourage guests to leave their cars behind.  Freo is a lively and growing centre with an amazing array of shops, restaurants, galleries and historical places to visit.

South Beach has safe swimming areas, a dog beach, fishing spots and a grassed area perfect for picnics.  There are pubs nearby, great spa options and a visit to the Fremantle Chocolate Factory is a must for chocoholics!

Why not take the first step towards a greener world and enjoy a break to remember at The Painted Fish?  It is certainly a large step (and small carbon footprint) away from the average.

About the Author
Lisa Monk is a marketing communications writer with a diverse background that includes experience in travel, hotels, finance, public relations and advertising. She has worked with Club Med, the Holiday Inn group and on a number of other travel projects on a freelance basis.  Lisa has travelled throughout Asia Pacific, America, Canada and England.

Lisa now works with TakeABreak.com.au as editor of the Holiday Inspirations newsletter and other publications.  She lives in Sydney with her husband Andy, and sons Joseph and Nicholas.


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About the author
Lisa Monk wrote this article in December 2007

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The Painted Fish Cottage
The Painted Fish Cottage
The bedroom in The Painted Fish Carriage
The bedroom in The Painted Fish Carriage
The Painted Fish limestone pond
The Painted Fish limestone pond

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