On the off chance that you find yourself searching for accommodation in Amelup, Western Australia (population: 186), look no further than The Lily. Specifically, its recently converted Dakota airplane.
The DC-3 was built in 1944 to serve the U.S. during World War II but was later sold to KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines). The plane flew in Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia before making an emergency belly landing in Broome, Australia, in 1974. Everyone onboard escaped with their life, but the plane was put out to pasture—that is, until Pleun Hitzert came along. The Dutch-born Australian and former ad man decided to rehab the Dakota starting in September 2012. The project took him three years to complete (dude’s entirely self-taught!) and the results are revelatory.
In its new life as a self-service apartment, the aircraft has sweeping views of the Stirling mountain range and a nice covered deck with outdoor seating. The original cockpit is still intact; you can poke your head in from the roomy bathroom, complete with shower, toilet, sink, and cozy-soft towels hung on a heated towel rack. The plane sits on an angle but the comfortable twin beds inside are built on platforms so you won’t slide down. There is a small seating area with books and board games, a television set, DVDs, and a stereo with a copy of Hitzert’s own CD (he’s an accomplished tenor saxophonist). The kitchen is well-equipped with a fridge, stove, microwave, and basic cooking ingredients. Considering how remote Amelup is—58 miles from Albany and 242 miles from Perth—you’ll definitely want to eat in. We also recommend pre-ordering the Lily’s breakfast basket, which includes dense spelt bread baked by Pleun’s wife Hennie, strawberry jam, orange marmalade, plain yogurt, a mason jar of homemade granola, farm-fresh eggs, butter, milk, OJ, and Vegemite (yuck). The basket is $15 AUD or $12 USD per person.
The Dakota sleeps two guests and rates start at $249 AUD ($194 USD) per night. Should it be booked out during your visit, additional accommodations are available in the Lily’s Dutch House (sleeps 6; from $189 AUD or $148 USD), Dutch Cottage (sleeps 4; from $189 AUD), Winery Quarters (sleeps 3; from $159 AUD or $124 USD), and Millers Quarters (sleeps 4; from $159 AUD).
Additionally, the Lily is home to an exacting replica of a 16th-century Dutch windmill. Five stories tall, it’s one of the largest traditional windmills in Australia—hand-built by Pleun himself between 1991 and 1997. And hey, the darn thing actually works! You can pick up a bag of stone-ground wholemeal spelt flour at the reception desk, housed in the property’s relocated and reconstructed 1924 Federation-style railway station from the nearby shire of Gnowangerup. Guided windmill tours are available upon request.
So what the heck else is there to do in Amelup? Most visitors go bushwalking at Stirling Range National Park. Bluff Knoll is the highest peak in the area, clocking in at 3,593 feet and taking four hours to walk. People also come for the wildflowers, which are at their peak between October and December.
9793 Chester Pass Rd., Amelup, Western Australia, Australia; +61-427-279-205.