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Homes Boho & beautiful Cottages with charm

Behind the gates of THREE COUNTRY ESTATES

NO. 1 AUS $8.95* NZ $9.99 (both incl. GST)

Smell Xroses On the Bellarine Peninsula The Darling Downs & Brickendon Estate

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-----------8 Classic revival It was a case of the right person for the job when landscape design consultant Barbara Landsberg bought a historic Blue Mountains property. 18 Character study With a bit of help from her friends and a lot of help from her stepfather, Natalie Holt achieved a wonderfully rustic rural retreat in northern NSW. 26 A long rein From her home on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, equestrian Mary Hanna as reached the zenith of a career that includes competing in five Olympic Games. 34 A colonial collage World Heritage-listed Brickendon is a remarkable repository of Tasmanian colonial history, continuously farmed by the Archer family since 1824. 42 Tea, roses and rest Green tea and a lamb named Boofa are just a part of the Leckie family story at Heatherly in Victoria’s Acheron Valley. 50 Poetry in pastels With her bowerbird instincts and a fantastic eye for colour, Beth Newton has transformed a modest worker’s cottage into a true delight. 60 Darling of the Downs Inspired by the great country estates of the UK, historic Harrow station and homestead have become a Darling Downs landmark. 68 Good karma The planets aligned for yoga teacher Rose Hawkins with a move to the Sunshine Coast hinterland. 78 Highland home From the wilds of America’s Washington State to the tranquillity of central Victoria, this garden of Eden is nourished with family history. 86 Gypsy spirit Kirsty Ballentine-Turnbull brings equal measures of wanderlust and passion for a cool Bohemian aesthetic to her homewares importing business.

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94 For the love of Lakemba A pair of scientists pulled out all the stops on a huge renovation in Ipswich, a Queensland city with the ambience of a big country town. 102 Rooms with a view Third generation sheep farmers SallyAnn and John Cottle live in spectacular surrounds in the Monaro high country. 112 Keeping tradition Roz and Peter Seppelt respect age-old skills and a long history of hospitality at their South Australian home. 122 Paddock to plate A career in catering has taken Brigid Kennedy from the high seas to the Southern Highlands of NSW. 130 Restoration drama Collectors, heritage lovers and restoration enthusiasts Dominic and Marie Romeo brought life back to one of Victoria’s Heritage-listed hill stations. 138 Seeds of inspiration From her home base in southern Queensland, Susan Volz’s mission is to solve the disconnection between urban dwellers and food production.



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s the British horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll observed “the love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies”. So it is with the love of country in all its diversity. From the grand country estates and sprawling homesteads that only an accident of birth can provide to the charming and cosy cottages that are furnished on the smell of an oily rag and with an astute eye on op shop windows and roadside collection points, the country home is a varied canvas upon which to make a mark. However, the element that ties them all together is usually the garden. Whether it’s a sprawling park-like expanse, a kitchen garden packed with fruit and veg to nourish its owners or a charmingly haphazard collection of cottage flowers and plants, the garden is a creative flourish on the otherwise practical country home and often a place of solace for its occupants and visitors. In this, our first showcase of some of our favourite country homes from the pages of Australian Country magazine, we have been mindful of the gardens that complement so many properties. Many writers’ and photographers’ work appears in this collection and we are grateful for their constant efforts. Thanks also go the behind-the-scenes people: our talented and dedicated designer, Rachel Henderson, our proofreader Haidi Bernhardt, our publishers, pre-press people, printers and, of course, our ad reps, who all do their bit to make each issue come to fruition. However, none of this would be possible without the home owners, who welcome us to their lives and so generously share their stories with us. And to you, our readers, who ultimately keep us in business. So many thanks for a wonderful collaborative effort. We can’t do it without you.






2017 O. 4 JULY/AUGUST C ntry VOL 20 N

Editor Kirsty McKenzie Design Rachel Henderson

ing Liv X dream



Boh Bo Boho oho oho ho & bbeautiful

Cottag ott ttages es with charm





Photography Ken Brass, John Downs, Anastasia Kariofyllidis, Stephanie Lees, Ryan Murphy, Kim Selby



Proofreader Haidi Bernhardt

NO. 122

Contributors Simone Barter, Bronte Camilleri, Kirsty McKenzie, Kathy Mexted, Siobhan O’Brien, Sue Peacock, Tahn Scoon, Tamara Simoneau, Danielle White






Behind the t gates of THREE COUN C TRY ESTATES

NO. 120 VOL. 20 NO. 3 AUS $8.95* NZ $8.90 (both incl. GST)

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On the Bellarine Peninsula

The Darling Downs & Brickendon Estate

l h To subscribe visit or ring 1300 303 414

Australian Country Homes (No 1) is published by Universal Magazines, Unit 5, 6-8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Melbourne office, Suite 4, Level 1, 150 Albert Road, South Melbourne Vic 3205. Phone (03) 9694 6444 Fax: (03) 9699 7890. Printed in Singapore by Times Printers, Distributed by Gordon and Gotch, Australia. Singapore — Car Kit Pte Ph 65 6 282 1960 NZ Distributors: Needlecraft: (06) 356 4793, fax: (06) 355 4594, Netlink, (09) 366 9966 This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publisher believes all the information supplied ISSN 1323-9708 Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXVII ACN 003 026 944

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in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. * Recommended retail price

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Mount Wilson’s rich volcanic soil and lush surrounds are part of the reason the early European settlers chose its lofty hills to set up summer retreats during the 1880s..

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Classic revival It was a perfect case of ďŹ nding the right person for the job when landscape design consultant Barbara Landsberg bought a historic Blue Mountains property. ----------------by TAMAR A SIMONEAU photography KEN BR ASS

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Clockwise from left: A water ball feature by English artist David Harber provides a focal point in the garden; a sundial soaks up the autumn light; Barbara’s


irst impressions count. And sometimes, first impressions linger in the heart and mind, and trigger one of those lifechanging moments upon which Hollywood thrives. In 1989, garden design consultant Barbara Landsberg fell in love at first sight with an enchanting historic estate in the Blue Mountains. Her friend was visiting from England, and they set out from Sydney together to visit the friend’s relatives, Helen and Gary Ghent, at Withycombe in Mount Wilson. “We drove up to Withycombe in the wind and rain in my old Toyota Corolla, worried that we would not make it up the mountain,” Barbara recalls. “We got lost on our way and arrived very late in the dark, to be greeted with the lights of the house shining out through

the dark and rain. Helen opened the door to welcome us into the warm with dinner ready for us. It was a magical and unforgettable stay.” How could Barbara, footloose and fancy free in her early 20s, have known then that the property that enveloped her so warmly would one day be hers? Through the years the pull of Withycombe intensified. Barbara kept going back to visit Helen and Gary, and after she met her future husband, Merrick Howes, she took him there often too. When they married, Helen and Gary’s gift to the newlyweds was fatefully fitting. “We had our honeymoon at Withycombe, raking leaves and sleeping by the library fire,” Barbara recalls. The years rolled on, and the couple welcomed two children into the world before Merrick was transferred to

mission has been to create a more cohesive garden, weaving one section into the next and introducing sculpture to create a seamless whole.

London with his finance job. It was in the UK that Barbara discovered a newfound love of gardening. She indulged her green thumb by studying gardening and horticulture, again unaware of how fate was starting to weave its plan for her. It was 2001, a dozen years since that first visit, when it came time to embrace Withycombe in a much bigger way. “Helen phoned me from Australia,” Barbara says. “She told me they were selling as they wanted to be free of the work of the large house and garden, and to explore and travel.” Though they didn’t quite know how they’d make it work, Barbara and Merrick were all in. “We had a dream of Withycombe being our family retreat and a gathering place for all family and friends,” Barbara adds. “Because we were still living overseas at the time we HOMES Australian Country 11

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“We had a dream of Withycombe being our family retreat and a gathering place for all. Because we were still living overseas, the big challenge was to work out how to look after it.�

Barbara and Merrick wanted to keep the same elegant ambience Helen and Gary had created, so changes have been minimal.

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“Each family of owners has made changes to the gardens at Withycombe, leaving a somewhat eclectic landscape with indistinct heritage.’’

bought Withycombe, the next big challenge was to know how to manage and look after it. My parents were living in Canberra and both had recently retired. They offered to move up to the Blue Mountains and help care for and live in the property — and they are still residents, caring for and living there today.” Barbara and Merrick moved back to Sydney in 2005 and began spending regular weekends at the property. They’d bought it furnished (including a fully equipped kitchen and the contents of the linen cupboard) and wanted to keep the same elegant and welcoming ambience created by Helen and Gary, so indoor changes have been minimal. The garden is where they’ve made their mark. “My parents spent the four years before Merrick and I returned to Australia clearing the garden of overgrown shrubberies and

trees with a chainsaw,” Barbara explains. “We still clear areas out, but now less regularly and only if we are replanting or renovating. We have planted literally thousands of new plants in the garden.” Hours of careful planning and years of back-breaking work later, the eight acres (three hectares) of garden surrounding the estate are now as spectacular as the old residence itself. Rough-cut stepping stones bordered by beds brimming with rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas link the formal garden to a woodland and down to a serene meditation garden. “Each successive family of owners has changed the gardens at Withycombe, leaving a somewhat eclectic landscape with indistinct heritage,” Barbara says. “The only area relatively unchanged from the time the main residence was built between 1878 and 1880 is the formal

Clockwise from above: Most rooms have fireplaces and the guest room is no exception; former owner Gary Ghent was a portrait collector and he left

many of his paintings when he sold; blue notes in the kitchen; late afternoon light filters through a glory vine and streams into the sitting room in the homestead.

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Clockwise from right: Secateurs at the ready, Barbara takes a tour of the grounds; Withycombe is a local landmark; a vine-clad chimney in autumn.

front lawn and old tennis court below it.” It’s Barbara’s mission to create a more cohesive garden, weaving one section into the next with seamless beauty. She is the latest in a long line of owners to have fallen under the spell of Mount Wilson’s rich volcanic soil and lush surrounds. It’s part of the reason the who’s who of early European landholders chose its lofty green hills to set up summer retreats. Built in 1880 by wealthy pastoralist George Henry Cox, Withycombe was originally called Beowang, an Aboriginal word referencing the many tree ferns flourishing on the estate. The parents of Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick White purchased the property in 1921, and changed the name to his mother Ruth’s maiden name. The Whites spent many hot summers at Withycombe, where the cooler climate was better for Patrick’s asthma.

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He referenced it in an autobiographical essay written at the time he won his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. “My childhood was a sickly one. It was found that I was suffering from nothing worse than asthma, but even so, nobody would insure my life. As a result of the asthma I was sent to school in the country, and only visited Sydney for brief, violently asthmatic sojourns on my way to a house we owned in the Blue Mountains. Probably induced by the asthma, I started reading and writing early on, my literary efforts from the age of about nine running chiefly to poetry and plays.”* He had fond memories of Withycombe and Mount Wilson, and spoke of the area in early poems written after he was sent to England for the remainder of his schooling at 13. This was something he wasn’t happy about

and perhaps the beginning of a rift with his mother, whose idea it was to send him away to boarding school. The discord seems to have been evident again in 1938 when he was living overseas. The Mount Wilson Historical Society reports that he was angry when his now widowed mother sold Withycombe to the Church of England for 10 shillings, because he had planned to return one day. But the dramas of yesteryear feel long gone as Barbara, Merrick and their extended family reinvent Withycombe for a new generation and create fond memories of their own. “Withycombe is a retreat,” Barbara says. “It is a gift for us all and has a generous and healing heart from which we all benefit.” *From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1968-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Sture Allén, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1993.

CHARACTER STUDY Natalie Holt first saw her dream home in three pieces on the back of a truck. With a bit of help from her friends and a lot of help from her stepfather, she’s achieved a wonderfully rustic rural retreat. -------------------by TAHN SCOON photography ANASTASIA K ARIOFYLLIDIS

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n a previous life Natalie Holt was living in Sydney and had a successful career as the sales and marketing manager for Avon Australia. Then she chucked it all in for a tree change, migrating to the NSW North Coast. She was lucky enough to land on her feet fairly quickly career-wise, and today is the sales manager for the iconic vintageinspired bedding and clothing label, Lazybones. The next part of her dream took a little longer to turn into a reality; she wanted to buy an old house, move it to the town of Bangalow, strip it back and create the home of her dreams from scratch. With a lot of hard work, a good dollop of ingenuity and help from a loving family member, that’s exactly what she did. After buying a pretty little parcel of land in a cul-de-sac just a stone’s throw from Bangalow’s main street, Natalie found an old house, which was originally from Brisbane, and arranged to have it trucked up. “It was funny,” she recalls. “I was driving to the local farmers’ markets very early one morning and I saw the house coming along the road in three pieces.” Once it arrived on-site, the removal company very carefully put it back together. Nat had the beginnings of her dream home. “Though of course at this stage you had to use your imagination a little,” she says. “The reality was it was an empty shell with lino on most floors and each room painted a different colour.” However, Natalie had a vision and she wasn’t daunted. As soon as the power and water were connected, she moved in. “My stepdad, Jeff, also moved in,” she says. “We lived with just a camp stove and a BBQ for the first six months. The first priority was to make the bathroom and the main bedroom liveable as I still needed to get up every day and go to work. Jeff slept in the spare room Clockwise from opposite: The garden is Natalie’s happy place and an old sink found at the Lismore tip has pride of

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place outdoors; a pop of zinnia pink; old gates make great climbing frames for the roses; Lazybones cushions feature indoors and out.

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surrounded by power tools and tins of paint.” Between the two of them, walls were gap filled and painted white, the floors were sanded and minor repairs attended to. “We saved money by keeping things simple and thinking creatively but no compromise was made on the new back deck,’’ Natalie recalls. “I wanted a big deck, which is a big job for a 70-year-old man, but he called in his best friend, Wayne, to help, and they did an amazing job.” Wayne and Jeff also spent a full day installing an off-the-shelf IKEA kitchen, which saved Natalie an enormous amount of money. To put her own stamp on the room, she cleverly added a vintage mirror splashback and hand-painted a checkerboard design on the floor. “I just marked out 40-cm squares and then painted them alternatively in red and white,” she says. “I used sample pots to save money.” The bathroom is also a great example of ingenious, thoughtful design. The home’s original back door hides an affordable drop-in shower base and the original old shower screen. To create the mosaic floor tiles, Natalie cut the letters out of each tile and dropped them into the other tile. Jeff then simply applied grout. The rest of the house is decorated in Natalie’s signature style; vintage lace tablecloths dress the windows, vintage throws and Lazybones’ quilts cover the beds, and rooms are furnished with a gorgeous array of vintage pieces collected through the years. The base provides a relaxed, neutral backdrop, with walls in Dulux Fair Bianca and floors sanded but left unsealed. “I didn’t want glossy floors and seals always change the colour,” Natalie says. “I like the colour as it is. I’m happy to live with the odd stain. The house Clockwise from left: Natalie has a keen eye for a vignette; the kitchen opens to the deck; bold colour accents enliven the vintage aesthetic;

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an old trunk doubles duty as a coffee table in the living room where the walls are painted in Dulux Fair Bianca for a neutral backdrop.

“I didn’t want glossy floors and seals always change the colour ... I’m happy to live with the odd stain. The house was built in 1926 so it can grow old gracefully.”

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was built in 1926 so it can grow old gracefully.” Once the interiors were sorted, Natalie, a very keen gardener, was “dying to get outside”. A bobcat was called in to create a terrace to accommodate both a flat lawn and a sizable kitchen garden. “I’ve been collecting Victorian gates for years,” she says. “So I decided to use them to fence off the terrace, which was perfect as they also offer support for the climbing roses. Next I turned my attention to creating a potting shed. I knew I’d need somewhere sheltered to propagate and pot — but above all it needed to be whimsical, pretty and preferably recycled.” A trip to The Demolition Yard in Brisbane’s Coorparoo provided a decent collection of old fencing and French doors from which Natalie created her dream potting shed — fitted with an old cast iron kitchen sink found locally at the Lismore tip. The floors are cleverly decorated in mosaic tiles made by Natalie from broken china. “They’re very hardy and can just be hosed off, but are much prettier than store-bought stones,” she observes. An outdoor shower, complete with a generously sized vintage shower rose allows Natalie to cool off in the hotter months. “I’d rather be in the garden than anywhere,” she adds. “The housework can wait but not the garden.” It’s a passion she shares with her three best girlfriends, all of whom spend nearly every weekend in their respective gardens. “We try to catch up regularly to share seeds and swap cuttings and stories,” Natalie says. “Every Sunday afternoon, I relax on my deck with a glass of wine and call one of the girls, and we text photos of our weekend disasters and successes to each other. It’s a lovely way to finish the weekend and get ready for the working week ahead.” Clockwise from left: Natalie’s vintage linen collection inspires much of her design aesthetic; contemporary and vintage pieces cohabit

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comfortably throughout the house; Lazybones soft furnishings and bed linen feature throughout the house, which was relocated from Brisbane.

For the best garden in the street

Don’t forget the


Regular applications of Seasol throughout the year: Promotes healthy growth in all plants including natives. Stimulates root development, enhances flowering & fruiting. Increases tolerance to heat, drought, frost, pests & diseases.

Roses and lavender frame the homestead at Statene Park.

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A long rein From her home on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, equestrian Mary Hanna has reached the zenith of a career that includes competing in five Olympic Games. ----------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography KEN BR ASS

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or most of her adult life Mary Hanna has dreamt of living in a place where she can walk outside in her pyjamas in the middle of the night and check on her horses. Now she’s living the dream at Statene Park, the property she shares on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula with her husband, Rob. The Hannas live at Statene Park, in a wonderful granite-clad homestead surrounded by lavender and roses. A Mediterranean-style courtyard at the rear of the house connects Mary to the stables, where the horses she breeds and trains are resident, and the indoor arena where she devotes long hours to her own, and other elite riders’, preparation for important equestrian events. “All the equestrian qualifications have to

be done in Europe so there’s no way around it if you want to make an Olympic team,” she says. “Unfortunately there’s no funding for equestrians for the selection process. I try to pay as much of my costs as I can, but the fact remains that Rob is my sponsor, the person who really makes it possible for me to dare to dream.” Mary and her horse, Sancette, which she rode in the London Olympics, spent many months in Europe in the lead up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, taking her place in the history books at the age of 61 as the oldest Australian athlete ever to complete in an Olympics. In between times she trained intensively with an up-and-coming mount, Boogie Woogie, which was based with her Swedish trainer, Patrik Kittel, at his

Outstanding Stables in Westfalia, Germany. “Believe me, it’s much easier to get a 60-plus-year-old body ready for an Olympics than it is to prepare the horses,” she says. “Everything rides on your horse being in top condition and you have to be constantly on the lookout for the next best thing.” In her “spare” time after the London Olympics, Mary wrote A Long Rein, an extraordinary account of her life in the saddle and the many inspirational characters who have motivated her since she was Clockwise from opposite: The Bellarine Peninsula property has beautiful views to Port Phillip Bay; even the horses get

time to smell the roses; Rugosa and Blue Moon roses are among Mary’s favourites; Mary with Sancette, her equine partner in competition.

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“For several years everything you do is focused on one six-minute event. At least other athletes such as swimmers get a couple of goes, but in dressage it’s make or break in six minutes.’’

born into a horse-mad family in Victoria’s Western District. From pony club to the Royal Melbourne Show, marriage to her first husband, Danish dressage expert Gert Donvig, and the burgeoning of her dressage career to the devastation of their equestrian centre in the Ash Wednesday bushfires and Gert’s untimely death in a car accident, Mary paints a life that has been dedicated to horses and riding and always focused on greater achievement. Along the way she acknowledges the influential people in her life, from her headstrong and passionate mother, Joan Neuendorf, to her Aunt Anna, a survivor of “hell on earth”, the Japaneserun prisoner of war camp Tjideng in Batavia (Jakarta), where people of mainly Dutch heritage were interned during World War II. Former policeman and riding instructor

Owen “Doc” Matthews also gets due credit for introducing her to dressage and the tenacity needed to achieve in the equestrian world. Doubtless it’s that very determination that has stood her in good stead through her Olympic campaigns, which are also covered in the book. Interwoven through this narrative is the riveting story of her mother’s grand love affair with a German naval officer, captain of the Kormoran, the cruiser responsible for Australia’s worst-ever naval disaster, the sinking of the HMAS Sydney during World War II. Although the couple both married Clockwise from right: Souvenirs from world travels and artworks fill the home; a beautiful courtyard connects the homestead with the

stables; the interiors feature French provincial furniture and loads of equestrian memorabilia and trophies; roses abound indoors and out. HOMES Australian Country 31

Clockwise from right: Chinoiserie in the master bedroom; neutral tones are offset with rich and vibrant colours and accessories; there are horses and equestrian souvenirs, trophies and artworks dotted throughout the house.

other partners, their bond endured and they corresponded to the end of their lives. Mary says writing the book was a good antidote to the stressful and, at times, devastating build-up and aftermath of the London Olympics. The Australian equestrian team came in for considerable criticism and, as part of that team, Mary says it was hard not to take it personally. She adds that coming home is the perfect respite from the incredible focus essential for Olympic preparation. “You work for years and years and at the last second you or your horse can be out of it,” she explains. “If you can’t deal with that you wouldn’t bother trying, but it is hard to come back from that kind of intensity. For several years everything you do is focused on one six-minute event. At least other athletes like swimmers get a couple of goes, but in dressage it’s make or break in six

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minutes. It’s hardly surprising that afterwards you feel totally out of whack. That’s when I need to come home and spend time with my children and grandchildren and enjoy my work once again.” Indeed, it would be hard not to feel at peace at Statene Park with its sweeping views of the Bellarine and the ocean in the distance. Mary says she and Rob inherited the homestead, which had been lovingly crafted by an Italian stonemason. A sailing friend of Rob’s, architect Richard Lowe, came up with the notion of excavating the hillside behind the homestead to build the courtyard and stables, then equestrian experts had a hand in the design of the state-of-the art facilities. Designer Heather Vincent supervised the landscaping, which includes hundreds of rose bushes — Icebergs, Blue Moon and Rugosas — masses of lavender and westringia hedges. It’s a low-maintenance,

drought-tolerant environment, but one which is a joy year-round. “It’s important to sniff the roses,” Mary says. “I need to be based in Australia. I was away too long last time and when the politics came, it was difficult to handle. The European winter does my head in and, anyhow, being home keeps me grounded. I need balance and that’s what comes from being at home with family and friends and leading a normal life with, hopefully, a game of golf every week.” Having said that, Mary adds that she has always said she will only retire from competition when she dies. In A Long Rein she observed that many people who are smitten with the love of horses ride as long as the mind and body are able. “Let’s wait and see,” she says. “Let’s see what the next few years have in store for me first.”

Image courtesy of Kitchens by Emanuel



Showroom – Mitchell Park, 24/22 Hudson Ave, Castle Hill NSW 2154 SYDNEY

(02) 9634 7017


here’s a painting hanging in the homestead at Brickendon that dates from 1833. It shows the view from what was then William Archer’s relatively new home to Woolmers, the farm his brother, Thomas, had established in 1817, when he became the first of four brothers to settle in the northeastern corner of Tasmania. The landscape is instantly recognisable today, as 184 years later the walkway that links the two homesteads is still intact, as are the hedgerows that fenced the property and the suspension bridge that spans the Macquarie River as it winds its way between the two historic farms. In 2010, the sibling properties gained World Heritage-listing for their significant place in Australian convict history. They became part of an elite list of 11 sites around Australia that includes Port Arthur, Fremantle Gaol, Norkfolk Island and Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks and Cockatoo Island. For Brickendon’s present incumbents, Angela and Kerry Archer, their son, Richard, his wife, Louise, and their adult children, Will, Eliza and Maddie, the fact of their place in history probably vacillates between a privilege and a pain in the neck. “We are a working farm,” Louise explains. “That’s how we earn our livelihood. But we

A COLONIAL COLLAGE World Heritage-listed Brickendon is a remarkable repository of colonial history, continuously farmed by William Archer’s family since his arrival in Van Dieman’s Land in 1824. ----------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography KEN BR ASS

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have to consider the listing in many farm decisions. For instance, we have to irrigate over the top of the hedgerows so we don’t destroy the landscape, and for the same reason we couldn’t put up tunnels to protect soft fruit, even though it may make good sense in terms of protecting the plants. On the other hand, the listing means we are also a place of great interest to tourists.” The first William Archer arrived in the colony in 1824 with 77 Merino ewes and three rams, a Norman cow and bull, numerous pigs and two stallions. He lived for a short time at Woolmers until he acquired 420 hectares of his own on the alluvial flats along the other side of the Macquarie River. He named the property Brickendon after a village near his birthplace in Hertfordshire. In 1827, he was joined by his father, William senior, who brought with him the equipment to set up a mill. Work on two barns to store oats, hay and straw and house livestock during bad weather or illness also commenced shortly after, as did construction of the pillar granary, shearing shed, smokehouse, blacksmith’s shop and numerous other buildings that constitute the farm village today. Only the foundations remain of the barracks, built to house the up to 50 convicts who were assigned to the Archers at any given time until the cessation of assignment in 1841. Among many treasures in the family’s possession is a diary kept by William senior in 1829, which names 33 male convicts, all sentenced for life. They ranged in age from 12 to 43 and all but two, who had committed violent crimes, were convicted for theft. Those with skills such as boot and hat making, wheel wrighting, farriering and blacksmithing were put to work in their trades while the other men were given general farm duties, tending the cattle, sheep and crops. But things did not always run smoothly, as William’s diary notes that offences including disobedience Clockwise from left: Fat lambs are part of Brickendon’s output; a flock of ducks; the Victorian chapel is located on the site of the

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former convict chapel and is available for hire for small weddings; the expansive gardens are a highlight of a visit to the Archers’ Longford home.

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and drunk and disorderly behaviour were punished with the withdrawal of privileges such as tobacco allowances. More extreme misdemeanours might attract a flogging, or banishment to solitary confinement. William’s entry for December 25 notes with some indignation that some of the men wanted time off on Christmas Day. Although this may seem not unreasonable today, it’s worth remembering that the notion of a public holiday for the festivities was a Victorian construct. Time off for church was, however, part of the village routine. In 1828, work started on the first section of the homestead, using more than 300,000 bricks fired on the farm. Until then William had lived with his convicts in the village. Out of sensitivity for his new bride, Caroline Harrison, the homestead was located a half a mile from the village. William further cloistered the house by surrounding it with a very English six-hectare parkland garden containing many exotic trees, shrubs and flowers, which today are only replicated in Hobart’s Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens. Hedgerow fencing was also “layed” according to an ancient technique in which the larger branches are cut part way through and laid down horizontally, allowing the new branches to be woven through to form a stock-proof fence. The homestead was added to in the 1830s with a northern wing containing the female convicts’ accommodation and a nursery upstairs with storage space for provisions below, plus a southern wing providing accommodation for visitors and an impressive upstairs library. This wing is notable for its slate roofing imported from Wales, extensive glazing only available to the very wealthy, and a blind window on the northern side to provide symmetry for the façade, an important feature of Georgian architecture. Clockwise from left: A dining room in the senior Archers’ section of the homestead; although little original furniture remains, the

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interiors remain true to the homestead’s heritage; William cloistered the homestead by surrounding it with six hectares of gardens.

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While the farm continues today much as it did during the colonial times, with a mixed flock of Romni, White Suffolk, Border Leicester and Merino sheep mainly for fat lamb production, and crops including wheat, barley and oats, grass seed, peas, beans and opium poppies, tourism has also become an important part of the Archer family business. Angela gave up her teaching career to devote herself to the garden, which today is a highlight of self-guided tours around the property. Although officially retired, Kerry is kept busy maintaining the extensive lawns from his rideon mower. With Richard and Will in charge in the paddocks, Louise looks after the hospitality side of the operation, which includes six self-catering cottages and a growing weddings business. Guests can opt to be married in the truly beautiful gardens or the Victorian chapel, built on the site of the original convict chapel, with seating for just 35. As Louise observes, each of the six generations (her children are the seventh) to have lived at Brickendon has left its mark. “While we live in the original Georgian part of the homestead, we added the sunroom to make it more family friendly,” she explains. “Although Richard’s grandmother took most of the original furniture with her when she moved out, fortunately Angela has a great interest and expertise in antiques and has added many pieces that are true to the colonial era.” Louise adds that Will, Eliza and Maddie are the first of the seven generations to have been encouraged to follow careers off-farm. “Nonetheless we are very happy that Will has decided to come home,” she says. “Eliza works in Queensland as an exercise scientist and Maddie is studying architecture. The whole family is very passionate about our history, so we consider ourselves lucky that the public interest in the property allows us to continue to live here.” Clockwise from left: Brickendon’s flock includes Romni, White Suffolk, Border Leicester and Merino sheep; Richard and Louise

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represent the sixth generation of the Archer family to have lived at Brickendon; the chapel’s light-filled interior is sparsely decorated.

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Tea, roses & rest Green tea and a lamb named Boofa are just a part of the story on Heatherly in Victoria’s Acheron Valley. ---------------by K ATHY MEXTED photography KIM SELBY

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Clockwise from above: Georgie and Will have made their home in the Acheron Valley; Eliza leads her pony after a ride; late afternoon light


he garden on Heatherly was awash with roses when Georgie Leckie moved to her husband, Will’s, family property in Victoria. “Will’s mother had a passion for roses and after living here for 25 years, she left me a beautiful garden,” Georgie says. “I either had to run with it or decide that gardening wasn’t my thing and bring the fences in.” Motivated by touring Open Gardens Australia properties and taking inspiration from landscape designers such as Paul Bangay, Georgie and Will took the bit between their teeth and ploughed on. Buoyed by what had gone before, they are now writing their own chapter into the Heatherly history and the garden was just the beginning. Beyond the boundary fence, a shearing shed became a

workshop, the sheep gave way to cattle, and some of the calf-high pasture is now waisthigh green tea. “The first time I came here, I was mesmerised by the beautiful valley, surrounding hills and the drive through the the Black Spur north of Healesville,” Georgie recalls. “I’d met Will on a plane as we both returned from working holidays in Europe and four years later I was invited to the property with mutual friends.” Back in Melbourne, Georgie worked in interior design at Georges Department Store. “I have a beautiful memory of a bathroom I’d seen while nannying in the UK,” she says. “It was wallpapered in Fuchsia, a $150-per-metre chintz fabric by Colefax and Fowler.” When one of her Melbourne clients was nonplussed

streams into a wisteriaclad pavilion; Hugh raised the lamb, Boofa, as a poddy and he now has an important role in a growing flock.

about 20 metres of the same leftover fabric, Georgie readily accepted it and it now hangs in the Heatherly dining room as a graceful reminder of a special place. Though the house didn’t require renovation, the Leckies made cosmetic changes and decorating the bedroom sowed the seed for Heatherly Design Bedheads. Though she didn’t make her own winged bedhead, Georgie had already grasped an opportunity and made her own simple bedheads for her children. The Heatherly bedheads evolved from there to what they are today. “In our room, I didn’t know whether to start with curtains, wallpaper or the bedhead,” Georgie says. “I’d always wanted special fabric for my own room and though I’m a ‘blue’ girl, I also love crisp apple green and so the HOMES Australian Country 45

“In the early days I threw around ideas for upholstered bedheads at mothers’ group. I began with three plain designs and 20 fabrics and sold initially to friends.’’

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Clockwise from left: A warm palette of brown and neutral tones is offset by pops of colour in the living room; Georgie’s signature

Designers Guild fabric in the master bedroom was perfect. My early days were spent juggling children and at mothers’ group I threw around ideas for upholstered bedheads. I began with three plain designs and 20 fabrics and sold to friends in 2006 and 2007.” With toddlers Eliza and Hugh at her side, Georgie converted the disused woolshed into a workshop. A large rug covered the floor and the skirting table, with its revolving top and new Laminex veneer, was the perfect workbench. An air compressor to drive the staple gun was the perfect Christmas gift. “Once I got to handling big orders, such as king-sized bedheads, the versatile workbench was brilliant and the compressor saved my hands when using the staple gun,” she says. “Going slowly in those early days, taking orders

and figuring out transport and logistics, was invaluable.” While Georgie was sewing and stapling, the children were playing on the floor making cubby houses out of the remnants. It only took six months, however, to realise that the business was ready to shift up a gear. “I was doing up an order to be sent to Bondi and realised that was the moment I’d been waiting for,” she adds. “When there is so much to choose from in Sydney, this customer had chosen my product and ordered online. It was remarkable that I could create something in my woolshed and send it to a wider market.” The woolshed was soon repurposed as a storage shed and the business moved to Melbourne, where Georgie now employs specialist upholsterers. Parallel to Georgie’s business, the farm had

colour is blue; Boofa is part of the family and has even learnt to nudge open the screen door so he can be closer to his friend and master, Hugh.

taken a surprising turn when a Japanese green tea merchant came to the district seeking growers. Heatherly now grows 30 acres (12 hectares) of green tea. “The tiny plants, all 170,000 of them, were 10-20cm tall and struck from the mother plants,” Georgie says. ”They were vulnerable little things going into paddocks that needed everything in their favour to get where they are today. It took about five years to get reasonable yields and we now harvest up to four times between October and March. We had some excellent input from the Japanese to mentor us through this delicate process. Recently a Melbourne food guide’s dietician included green tea as one of the top 10 super foods you should consume daily.” Under the label of Two Rivers Green Tea, Heatherly produces four varieties of tea. HOMES Australian Country 47

Clockwise from right: Soothing blues and greens; a Designers Guild fabric was used to make the bedhead in the bedroom; Colefax and Fowler Fuchsia drapes in the dining room.

Shincha, meaning “new tea”, is produced from spring’s first harvest. These lush leaves are rich with nutrients and create an intense flavour. Summer and autumn harvests produce sencha, which is a sweet, fullbodied tea. The sencha is also mildly roasted, resulting in houjicha, an amber tea with a smooth toasted flavour. The variety that has surprised Will and Georgie with its popularity is genmaicha, which is a combination of sencha, roasted brown rice and matcha powder, resulting in a mild flavour with undertones of roasted rice. Using biological farming methods, the Leckies respect the natural processes in the ecosystem in order to yield top quality products, provide a viable living for the producer, and sustain long-term productivity. The tea is untainted by the application of

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toxins and is enhanced annually by an application of nitrogen then composted chicken and pig manure in accordance with strict quality control procedures. Ready to harvest, the tiny bright green tips are almost waist high — high enough to hide a young boy and his pet lamb. Boofa was raised by Hugh who looks after a small mob of sheep and some hand-reared poddy calves. When Boofa was old enough to be put out with the flock, he refused to integrate and kept going back to his gang — the calves. Boofa is so attached to the family that he has learnt to nudge open the screen door, believing his rightful place is with Hugh. The orphaned lamb is as much a part of the Heatherly landscape as the old garden and its improvements. He is as indulgent as the gorgeous green wicker birdcage that has

never housed a bird and as delightful as the bulb meadow that tumbles down to the lake. He belongs as much as the Heatherly-milled timber beams in the tennis pavilion and the wave of purple wisteria that topples from it. As he skitters along the circular drive that meanders between aged and young trees and beautiful garden sculptures, Georgie nurses a steaming mug of green tea and considers all the weekends that she and Will have devoted to maximising their garden … their place of rest. “The art of gardening is constantly trying to determine what goes where,” Georgie says. “Victorian garden designer Ben Scott brought fresh eyes to our project and saved us a huge amount of effort. At the end of the day, our feeling of arrival is into this beautiful valley.” For more information visit heatherlydesign. and

(02) 8338 7262

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POETRY IN PASTELS With her bowerbird instincts and a fantastic eye for colour, Beth Newton has transformed a modest worker’s cottage. ----------------------by TAMAR A SIMONEAU photography ANASTASIA K ARIOFYLLIDIS

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winding ascent along a road lined with towering gums leads to a little village of workers’ cottages, built in the 1890s and early 1900s for employees of the Mount Crosby water scheme that had been set up nearby to provide for Brisbane’s growing population. It’s a world apart from the CBD 20odd kilometres away, with the kind of quaint general store that still exists under corrugated iron awnings over cracking concrete footpaths in Australia’s old towns and enclaves too small to warrant a second look by developers working for the big three. The cottages were likely never meant to be forever homes, built quickly and cheaply and often not quite square, but to the lucky few who live behind the neatly modest picket fences, they’re cherished for every imperfection. “Timber and tin — what more could we ask for of our new Australian home?” asks Beth Newton, who moved into one of the cottages after migrating from Africa in the mid-’90s with her husband, Wal, and two growing children. “I knew instantly what l could do with it.” What she’s done with it is nothing short of enchanting, with treasures and trinkets at every turn. Vintage china plates hang in clusters on crisp white VJ walls; vases, glassware and old books are grouped effortlessly together creating vignettes popping with pastels; and every mismatched piece of crockery in her cute-as-can-be kitchen is used. She pulls teabags from one, sugar from another, dishwasher tabs are hidden under the clinking lid of an old cookie jar. “Everything has its purpose,” Beth says. Her inspiration for decorating hasn’t come from the pages of haughty home magazines or stuffy antique shops — almost all her possessions are second-hand. “I grew up in a seaside town in England,” Beth explains in an accent that evokes images of Beatrix Potter

Clockwise from left: Beth and Wal have led an adventurous life and now call Mount Crosby home; Beth’s passion for vintage china has

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spread to the garden; she also like to upcycle and repurpose found objects; afternoon tea on the verandah of their cute cottage is a real treat.

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bedtime stories. “One of my first memories is of my Mum and Dad taking me to junk shops. Yes, that is what they called them. That was it, l was hooked — the treasures, the possibilities.” Using her childhood pocket money, then any savings she earned from her burgeoning career as a dancer, Beth had already amassed quite a collection by the time she met Wal. Theirs is a romance of Danielle Steele proportions. He was a news reporter from South Africa and she was about to sign a contract to move to Paris and dance at the Moulin Rouge. “I had to decide if I’d go to Paris or follow him back to Africa,” she says. She chose love over Paris, and adventure ensued. “I have always had this incessant desire for adventure,” says Wal, whose first language was Zulu. “I am fortunate indeed to have found Beth, who has always shared in escapades that have, on occasion, been quite heart-stopping. We often recall being pursued by a troop of large hairy baboons in the mountains of KwaZulu, or sleeping in a flimsy tent near grazing hippos while they snorted and grunted far too close for comfort.” They spent 18 happy years together in Africa, building their own home that Beth filled with her found treasures, but decided to move to Australia to provide better educational opportunities for their children, Rowan and Eloise. Nothing large or bulky came with them, meaning they were essentially starting all over again when they touched down on a new life in Australia. That never bothered Beth, as their little cottage in Mount Crosby became a beautiful canvas for her curated collection that made the cut in the relocation. “l have never felt the need for top of the range or new things,” she says. “I knew this would be the perfect stage for all our stuff. I’ve always been very content with what we could have, but always wanted to make the best and the most of it. Nothing Clockwise from left: Although Beth has been collecting most of her life, she had to start from scratch when she arrived in Australia; a

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pretty grouping; Beth’s parents took her to junk shops and she still enjoys foraging trips; she colours in the details on a white background.

Vintage china plates hang in clusters on crisp white VJ walls; vases, glassware and old books are grouped eortlessly together creating vignettes popping with pastels.

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Clockwise from this pic: Beth is a constant rearranger and rooms are often updated; pages from a botanical book make a quirky feature when stuck to the wall with washi tape; Beth has a consummate skill for an eye-catching grouping.

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of real value in life costs a lot of money.” Nowadays, Wal has shifted gears on his career and works as a dairy technician. His spirit of adventure is satiated by weekend rides around South East Queensland on his Italian motorcycle, with Beth on the back, forever on the lookout for little thrift shops in country towns. “An ideal getaway would see Beth pack the weekend panniers for us to set off early in the morning, and then head out for the delights of country Queensland,” Wal says. “Beth’s decorating is always a constant adventure for me as well, as I rarely come home to find the house as I may have left it in the morning. Things are moved, repositioned, relocated and often hidden, but I have always admired her ability to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear! I know it was very early in our relationship when I recognised that my vision was one dimensional, while she has this innate aptitude to see the finished product.” Beth freely admits that her quirky decor ideas have sometimes raised eyebrows, but she’s never been one to worry about that, especially since her children have always encouraged her. “They’ve always said, ‘go for it Mum, don’t be like everybody else, don’t follow the trends’,” she says. Any visitor to their little worker’s cottage is inclined to notice they’re in for something delightfully different as soon as they spot the rows of china plates lining the garden beds. Beth says she has too many to keep in the kitchen and decided to display them outside, and she’s found a serendipitous bonus. “The snails hate them; they’re too slippery and they can’t get into my garden,” she explains. “I love using things for another purpose than what they were made for. I also like to take the inside out, like the dressing table.” Her daughter’s childhood dresser is now brimming with greenery in the backyard, a few steps from a second-hand easel displaying a framed oil painting under the shade of a tree. At the side of the cottage an old concrete sink is overflowing with plants and plates. Life at this worker’s cottage has never been so colourful. “Every day we wake up so grateful to be here,” says Beth with a twinkle in her eye that makes you wonder just what she might dream up next.


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Darling of the Downs Inspired by the great country estates of the UK, Harrow station and homestead have become a Darling Downs landmark. ---------------------by TAMAR A SIMONEAU photography ANASTASIA K ARIOFYLLIDIS

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Clockwise from this pic: A lily-studded lake is a focus of the garden; the garden is Mavis’s legacy, a magical space that includes a rose arbour and fish ponds.

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arrow homestead sits stately on a gentle rise, overlooking a rambling 10-acre (fourhectare) garden with the rolling landscape of southern Queensland’s Darling Downs beyond. Past the weathered white timber and rusty wire fences lie golden fields of grain, standing tall in salute to the sun, or perhaps reaching skyward for the first taste of ever-elusive raindrops. Breezy, wide verandahs envelop the buttery cream facade of the old house, rooftop peaks creating a commanding silhouette against a searing Queensland sky. Somehow, Harrow manages to be grand and rustic all at once. Harrow was named by its early English settler owners after the school they attended in Britain. It was built with a bold vision by Robert Ramsay in the 1890s, a farming patriarch who, according to his descendants, wanted to create a family holding emulating the great rural

estates of Scotland, England and America. At one point, the homestead was the centre of a small village with workers’ cottages and a school. Every Christmas it was tradition to put up a huge tree decorated with festive trimmings on the verandah, with presents for everyone who worked at the station stacked underneath. For a time in the early days, Harrow may have lived up to Ramsay’s vision as the extended family worked the land, trying different crops and stock. It was well-known and well-frequented by the who’s who of the day, even including a future king. During a tour of Australia in 1905, a young George V stepped down from his royal train to saddle up for a cattle muster. As Derran Carrigan hollers at his herd of noisy cattle, urging them through a stream and into new pasture, it’s a reminder that some things haven’t changed. Horse and rider, dog and whip — the tools of the trade HOMES Australian Country 63

Derran is the current custodian of Harrow, now a working Angus and Wagyu-cross cattle property, quarantine station for live exports and grain farm.

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for mustering, then and now. Derran is the current custodian of Harrow, now a working Angus and Wagyu-cross cattle property, quarantine station for live exports, and grain farm. He lives alone in the 100-squaremetre home since the passing of his beloved mother, Mavis, in 2010. Derran isn’t lonely, not by a long shot. Harrow may be owned by a different family now, but its place as the bustling centre of family life remains. “Many family members often visit Harrow,” Derran says. “Usually I use the formal rooms when family or friends are in residence.” The formal rooms have been decorated Clockwise from left: Harrow is a working cattle property; a 50-metre rose arbour is another feature of the grounds; roses

were one of the late Mavis Carrigan’s many passions; Derran’s sister, Sandy McNally, is one of many frequent visitors to the family home.

with antiques hand-picked by Mavis. In true Gothic-Victorian style, soaring ceilings and a long hallway of incredibly detailed timberwork and polished cedar panelling give the interior a regal feel. The hallway passes a billiard room, bedrooms and a bathroom before finding its end at Mavis’s expansive but cosy bedroom — the bed is made up, and family photos sit in frames on a mantle. She was queen of this castle, and this was her chamber. Derran has four siblings — Adrienne, Geraldine, Warren and Sandy. Sandy, who lives nearby on her own property, is a regular visitor. “Our family came from a property west of Goondiwindi on the NSW side,” she says. “The place was called Pallarang and had been in the family for a number of generations, so it was a big decision to sell up and come to Cambooya.” When Harrow came up for HOMES Australian Country 65

auction in the early ’80s, the Carrigan family couldn’t pass up the possibility of farming with more frequent rainfall. The move was made, much to Mavis’s delight. “She fell in love at first sight with the Harrow house,” Sandy explains. “She was delighted by the prospect of being able to create a beautiful garden.” The stunning architecture of the homestead is a credit to the property’s founding father, Robert Ramsay. But the gardens are the creation of Mavis Carrigan, and her own vision of what Harrow could be. “Mum was well known at the various Toowoomba nurseries,” recalls Sandy, who says her mother was devoted to “creating magic scenes” in the garden. With fish ponds, a 50-metre rose arbour and a lake dotted with lily pads and surrounded by dancing weeping willows, Mavis has indeed created magic. Since her passing, her children have been

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committed to its rigorous upkeep and began opening it four times a year to intrigued locals and grateful visitors. “Originally the decision to open the garden was to honour the memory of our mother,” Sandy says. “Now it is a great incentive to ensure the garden is maintained to the standard she would expect.” Derran, who fits gardening in and around his other duties at the property, enjoys the fruits of his labour daily. “Late in the afternoon I really enjoy sitting on the verandah, overlooking the garden, and having a cold beer,” he says. And when family comes around, the serenity is swallowed up by blissfully noisy gatherings around the picturesque lake. “We delight in barbecues by the lake,” he adds. “The adults can relax while the children play in the water with canoes and try to catch fish.” Harrow has been host to countless

This page: Robert Ramsay had a grand English estate in mind when the homestead was built in 1890, so

leadlight windows and chandeliers feature in the public rooms, where many parties have been held through the years.

Christmas days, birthday parties and family weddings. “The saddest and most important occasion held at Harrow was the burial in the garden of a 12-year-old nephew who died unexpectedly,” Sandy says. An engraved plaque beside the fish pond, under the shade of one of Mavis’s beloved trees, is his idyllic resting place — close to his family and the property that is at its beating heart. “There are so many wonderful memories of our mother gathering the extended family together,” Derran adds “We hope to carry on her tradition.” As impressive as Harrow homestead is, the real beauty stems from its foundations established firmly around family.


South East Business Park 57 National Avenue Pakenham Vic 3810

1800 806 416 (03) 5943 2388

GOOD KARMA The planets aligned for yoga teacher Rose Hawkins with a move to the Sunshine Coast hinterland. ---------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography ANASTASIA K ARIOFYLLIDIS styling SIMONE BARTER

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Rose found the home with its cool farmhouse profile, spacious grounds and views to the surrounding mountains after five years of searching for the perfect place to establish a venue for yoga retreats.


s shopping lists go, Rose Hawkins drew up a doozy when she went searching for the right property for relocating her family and yoga studio. With four adult children she needed five bedrooms so they and their partners and children could all comfortably visit at the same time. Having grown up in the wide open spaces of the Northern Territory and central western Queensland, Rose knew her dream home needed to be have some land around it. She also wanted to run yoga classes and retreats from home so a studio was another box on the wish list. It may have taken five years of searching, but amazingly Rose found precisely what she was looking for not far from Montville in the ranges behind the Sunshine Coast. “The house not only had the requisite number

of bedrooms, it also had a cool farmhouse profile,” she says. “It’s on acreage with a beautiful outlook so there’s space for people to be alone. The fact that it came with a studio, an office and a swimming pool was a bonus, and it’s all within an hour and a half’s drive of Brisbane, which is essential for city dwellers looking for a weekend retreat.” As it’s turned out, there was even more good karma coming her way, as within a week of moving in three years ago she met her new partner, Steve Scott. “I’d been on my own for seven years and I was so happy I didn’t care if I stayed that way,” she recalls. “Steve does maintenance work and I got him to come and do some odd jobs. We got along well and each time he came back we found we had more in common. After a while it just seemed inevitable that we should be together.” HOMES Australian Country 69

“The fact that it came with a studio, an office and a swimming pool was a bonus, and it’s all within an hour and a half’s drive of Brisbane, which is an essential ingredient for city dwellers looking for a weekend retreat.”

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Rose’s first encounter with yoga was as a teenage boarder at the independent St Peter’s Lutheran College in Brisbane. “It was a progressive school in many ways,” she says. “In fact, I had already been introduced to the benefits of stretching by my mother, who was an early adopter. When I was living on a farm near Emerald, I finally reconnected with a yoga teacher and I found it very helpful for dealing with the stresses of life on the land. I wish that more country women would take that time for themselves. Once they connect with a teacher they can practise at home with the help of apps or DVDs. The important thing about yoga is it’s not just exercise, it’s equally about the breathing and meditation and that’s what’s really helpful at times of stress. Later, when my marriage broke down and I moved to Rockhampton where my children were at school, it was the practice of yoga that got me through.” Rose’s personal passion for yoga morphed into a profession when she completed teacher’s training and followed up with advanced courses in India at Rishikesh, Pune and Rajasthan. These days she’s completing an intensive yoga therapy (for illness) course and has a full schedule of classes at her studio. As well, she offers monthly weekend retreats and Clockwise from left: Relaxed outdoor spaces provide ample room for Rose’s house guests; the chooks contribute to the organic, vegetarian

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menu; home-grown produce also features; a decorator by instinct, Rose favours rustic pieces; country with a contemporary twist.

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private residential retreats for small groups of six to 10 on demand. For these she adds to her already packed program by cooking organic, vegetarian feasts for her students. “It’s wonderful to see the impact a weekend of yoga and reflection can have,” she says. “People come for a reason even if they don’t realise it at the time. I receive an amazing amount of mail from students detailing how their lives have changed after a retreat. For many of them it’s the first time in ages that they’ve left their everyday environment and paused to reflect on what changes they want to make.” Rose adds that the home she shares with family and visitors is the physical embodiment of her life’s journey. “I’ve always loved country-style interiors, but with an edge,” she says. “Decorating has been my thing since I was just out of school and doing my nursing training. I remember the thrill of ripping up the lino in my share house and finding beautiful black and white marble tiles underneath. I like nothing better than finding quirky pieces in antique shops. But I’m not what you would call a constant rearranger. Once I’m happy with a room or corner, I usually live with it. Nor am I a constant shopper. Most of my decorative items have been with me for a long time and have real meaning for me. The green hutch in the living Clockwise from opposite: The green hutch has made every move with Rose since she bought it from a church hall in Emerald;

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the kitchen is where Rose cooks vegetarian feasts; the pink couch encouraged her to paint a matching occasional table; earth meets sea.

“I’ve always loved country-style interiors, but with an edge. I like nothing better than finding quirky pieces in antique shops.”

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area came from a church hall in Emerald and has made every move with me. I bought the pink couch from a shop called Watermelon Red in Coolum, before the rest of my furniture followed me down from Rockhampton. So for a couple of months it was sitting on its own in the room and I did have a few moments of anxiety about how it would work. But it did, and that gave me the conviction to paint the coffee table to match.” Rose says her love of colour comes from a lifelong fascination with the work of Tricia Guild, founder and director of the English interior furnishings company, Designer’s Guild, tempered with a fair measure of influence from her travels in India. “When you travel you realise how far the Indian influence has spread,” she adds. “You can see it in French provincial fabrics and even certain Italian colour combinations.” In her “spare” time, Rose imports ethically and sustainably manufactured fabrics from India under the label of India Rose Textiles and dabbles in painting for a hobby. “I drift in and out of painting depending on when I find time,” she says. “It’s been a lovely journey and I truly believe I have yoga to thank for most of it. Every now and then it just dawns on me how lucky I am.” Clockwise from left: Rose’s love of colour comes from a long interest in Designer’s Guild fabrics; she imports ethically and sustainably

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manufactured fabrics from India under the label, India Rose Textiles; a white background allows vintages pieces to shine in a guest room.

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Highland home From the wilds of America’s Washington State to the tranquillity of central Victoria’s pastoral lands, this garden of Eden is nourished with family history. ---------------by DANIELLE WHITE photography KIM SELBY

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den Park has been in Mark Clement’s family since his descendants purchased the land in 1857 at the Crown grant land sales, which makes Mark the fifth generation to call the property home. Situated in Romsey in central Victoria, Eden Park might be only an hour’s drive north of Melbourne but it’s a world away from the farmlands of Washington State in America where Mark’s wife, Deva Weitman, grew up. “Mark and I met in 1989 when I was visiting Australia as part of a Future Farmers of America exchange program,” Deva recalls. “We married a year later and lived in Macedon for some years until we were able to move in to Eden Park in 2007.” In its heyday, the family’s land-holding totalled around 1000

acres (404 hectares). Today, Mark and Deva and their two daughters, Sequoia and Chenoa, farm a picturesque 100 acres (40 hectares) that surround the original 1858 homestead. Built of dressed bluestone quarried from the property, the Italianate-style homestead sits at the end of a kilometre-long driveway flanked with whimsical hawthorn hedgerows. A collection of handsome historic outbuildings that includes a bluestone shearing shed, an old cheesemaking shed and horse stables has stood the test of time and still serves the family well. Since moving in to Eden Park, Mark and Deva have put a lot of work into restoring and maintaining the homestead, the outbuildings and the garden. “Several plants, including some of the older privet and English box

Clockwise from above: Deva and Sequoia at home at Eden Park; the outbuildings include a bluestone shearing shed; the 1858 homestead is framed

by a picturesque garden with hundreds of roses and 100 acres (40 hectares) of farmland; the family farms blackfaced Suffolk sheep as well as Highland cattle.

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Clockwise from right: The entrance frames a view to an Italianate fountain; Deva, Mark, Sequoia and Chenoa have embraced farm life; beautiful bluestone buildings in the late afternoon light.

hedges, a walnut tree and some apple trees remain from the original plantings,” Deva says. “I terraced the rear garden, which slopes downwards towards the creek, so that we could have useable lawn areas where we can sit and enjoy the tranquil northern views to rolling hills,” Mark adds. It seems they were made for country life. “The children are very much involved in the farm,” Deva says. “We always marvel at how lucky we are to live such a peaceful life with only the sounds of birds, the smell of fresh air, our animals and the history that surrounds us.” In 2008, the couple established Blue Rock, a commercial stud farm that breeds black-faced Suffolk sheep and Highland cattle. The name derives from Deva’s American grandmother who mistakenly referred to Eden Park homestead as being built of blue rock instead

of bluestone. Mark and Deva chose to breed Suffolk sheep because Mark gave Deva a small flock as a wedding gift knowing how close Deva was to her American grandfather (who had given Deva her first Suffolk sheep when she was just 12 years old). Mark thought the gift might help Deva feel more at home. The couple chose to breed Highland cattle because Mark had been captivated by them during his travels 25 years earlier. “Mark has been the driving force behind the development of the Blue Rock Highland fold,” Deva explains. “He was first inspired by the hairy beasts while travelling in the Scottish Highlands.” Today, the Blue Rock Highland fold consists of up to 20 breeding females and one bull. “Within our breeding program we aim for structurally sound animals with plenty of traditional Highland character,” Mark explains.

“We always marvel at how lucky we are to live such a peaceful life with only the sounds of birds, the smell of fresh air, our animals and the history that surrounds us.”

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“We sell our cattle to landholders looking for a unique animal.” Keeping up with tradition (Mark’s ancestors won international awards for their malting barley and national awards for their cheese) Mark and Deva have great success showing their animals. While Mark currently works as a telecommunications network engineer in Melbourne, he says he would love nothing more than to help develop the farm to a point where it could support itself and the family fulltime. In the meantime, Deva is the farm’s dayto-day manager and says she is thankful to her grandparents, Charlie and Isabelle Weitman, who were such a positive influence on her. “Back in the States, my grandparents were cattle ranchers and they taught me the importance of family and the value of hard work,” she says. “My grandfather used to let his animals

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Clockwise from above: Soothing blues in the bedroom; Deva in the farmhouse kitchen;

a chaise nestles in a bay window; the dining room is furnished with classic pieces adding ambience.

roam free to forage so he’d place bells on them to keep track of their whereabouts because predators in that part of the world were bears, cougars and wolves! All in a day’s work!” Every morning is an early start for this busy family whether it’s the weekend or not, which suits them just fine. “It’s a good thing we enjoy hard work,” Deva says. “In the end, we get to see the fruits of our labour and every time we dig in the garden or repair something we are mindful of those who came before. That is one thing you can never forget when you live in an old family home like Eden Park.” For more information on the Blue Rock cattle and sheep visit

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The Nedlands bungalow gave Kirsty a blank canvas to express her artistic tendancies..

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GYPSY SPIRIT Kirsty Ballentine-Turnbull brings equal measures of wanderlust and passion for a cool Bohemian aesthetic to her homewares importing business. ------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography RYAN MURPHY

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s the self-confessed child of backpacking hippie parents, Kirsty Ballentine Turnbull says a gypsy spirit is in her DNA. Born in London to a South African dad and an Australian mum, Kirsty spent her early years in a Kombi exploring the world with her intrepid parents. They eventually settled back in Perth when she was aged five, but wanderlust was never far from the surface, and the growing family was often on the road seeking new adventure. When she was 14, the family upped stakes and moved to Brisbane, where she completed her high schooling and went to uni. The peripatetic family moved on to Melbourne, but Kirsty flew in the face of tradition, stayed in Brisbane to graduate and build a corporate career in marketing. “By the time I was 24 I had a house, a car and a great job,” she recalls. “But I also had the travel bug, so I headed off to London and spent the next few years living and working there and in Europe. I met my husband, Jonathan Turnbull, who is a Perth boy, in the UK and we eventually moved back to Australia where he developed his career as an entrepreneur and property manager.” Kirsty continued to work as a HR consultant specialising in executive coaching and career transitioning while raising Ava, who is now 10, and Charlie, who is eight. But for the girl who liked nothing better than to lock herself in her bedroom and listen to Fleetwood Mac while designing clothes and dashing out charcoal drawings, there was always an unrequited creative gene bouncing around in the background. Then five years ago Kirsty and Jonathan bought a 1920s bungalow on a ramshackle granny block in Nedlands, and Kirsty found a Clockwise from left: Charlie takes a swing in the garden; Ava relaxes with Enid Blyton on the deck; the decorating experience

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encouraged Kirsty to start her own business importing hand-crafted homewares such as the shell chandelier; the deck extends the living space.

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“I’d always had an appreciation of architecture and design, but buying the bungalow gave me a canvas to work on.” whole new outlet for her artistic tendencies. “I’d always had an appreciation of architecture and design, but suddenly I had a blank canvas to work on,” she recalls. “The house had already had an extension when we bought it, but it was up to us to knock out walls and open it up with bifolds onto the wraparound verandah.” Gradually, the woman who had previously been accustomed to telling other people how to make changes to their careers found herself making her own transition. “It all began when I wanted to buy a shell chandelier for the living area,” Kirsty recalls. “I searched everywhere but couldn’t find anything like what I had in mind. Then I went on a trip to Bali and discovered the most exquisitely crafted pendants in all shapes and sizes. By the time I came home I was well on the way to becoming an importer of beautiful handcrafted homewares and clothing, all with a Bohemian edge.” She didn’t have to look far for a name for her business. She’d stumbled across losari, an ancient Javanese word meaning spirit of the earth, while researching names for her children and tucked it away for a future use. “Losari kind of summed up all the beautiful products I started to source,” she explains. “Feather craft, delicately carved skulls, tribal art, crochet blankets, and gorgeous fabrics from all over Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and China all have a place in the repertoire. We’ve grown exponentially since I launched, but the essence of luxurious homewares and clothes with a free spirit remains at the core.” In that utterly unpredictable way life has of tossing up curve balls, Kirsty’s tight-knit family was dealt a massive blow about the same time as the business was launching when their mother suffered a catastrophic Clockwise from left: Losari soft furnishings from the decorator range are dotted throughout the house; the entire family, pooch included,

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loves the light and airy atmosphere of the restoration; a giant portrait in the living area is framed by shell necklaces and crucifixes.

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stroke. “Suddenly we found ourselves sharing responsibility for her intensive care around the clock,” Kirsty explains. “I had just started on this amazing adventure and I didn’t know how I would find the time, energy or space to keep going and fit Losari in around her care. But we took it in shifts and gradually Mum improved to the point where she could come home, admittedly, with high-level care from all of us. We’ve always shared a mutual love for things from faraway places and cultures, so I felt I needed to keep going for both of us.” Fortunately, the worldwide web makes it possible for Kirsty to browse, discover and connect with artisan producers all over the world from the comfort of her home office. Gradually, however, she came to the realisation that as most of her custom is based in the eastern states, it made much more sense to move over east. So the Ballentine gypsy caravan geared up for yet another move, this time to Queensland, where Kirsty has taken on a business partner and established a distribution warehouse. “Now I’ve become the catalyst for change,” she says. “My brother and sister-in-law moved to northern NSW so they can be close enough to continue to help out with Mum, and the rest of us followed. We’ve always done things as a family and this new chapter will be no different. It’s a funny feeling, as having been in Perth for 11 years, that’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. But we are gypsy souls and moving is what gypsies do. And challenging though it is to pack up everything and make the change, we all felt it was the right thing to do. Life goes on and it just wouldn’t suit any of us to shy away from the next challenge. It’s exciting and a bit frightening, but I have a deep down conviction that it will be for the long-term good.” For more information visit Clockwise from left: Polished floorboards add to the relaxed, low-maintenance vibe; a storage shelf doubles duty with hangers

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below; Kirsty changed careers as a result of her experience of renovating the house; bifolding doors connect the living room with the deck area.




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For the love of Lakemba A pair of scientists left behind bustling city life to head home to Ipswich, a Queensland city with the ambience of a big country town, and pulled out all the stops on a huge renovation. -----------------by TAMAR A SIMONEAU photography JOHN DOWNS

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’m not leaving until I’m carried out in a wooden box,” says Simone Hubbard as she leans casually on her kitchen counter, surveying the historic city of Ipswich that undulates to the horizon beyond her cedar-trimmed windows. It may be an odd thing for a 40-year-old to assert, but it’s the perfect indicator of how much she adores her abode. Lakemba is perched grandly on Denmark Hill, an area rich in history and brimming with old homes in varying states of repair. Many have been skillfully restored, and a drive along Chelmsford Avenue will have lovers of Federation-era architecture enraptured. But that was certainly not what Simone and her husband, Jason, felt when they first spotted Lakemba for sale. “The

roof needed replacing, there was rot in the decorative timber features on the verandah and even in some structural areas,” Simone recalls. “The garden terraces were falling apart and significantly overgrown. Access was not safe and it was far from what I would have called an ideal place to raise children.” But through the cracks and wear, Simone and Jason could see something that niggled away at their better judgement and compelled them to sign up for what would end up being four years of painstaking renovation. “On our last inspection Jason took a photo of me and our then three-yearold son, Lucas, wandering around the home,” she says. “This image jelled with our family. We knew it was meant to be.” Simone admits to being terrified of the

work, but Jason had grown up in a family of skilled renovators and was confident they could bring Lakemba back to life. They set about fixing all the important things first, stabilising the house and ensuring it would last another 100 or so years. When it came time to think about the layout inside, Simone and Jason bucked the open-plan trend. “We have been tempted to modify some of her internal aspects to meet modern needs,” Simone says. “But we’ve distinctly found that the preservation of her character far outweighs Clockwise from opposite: Lakemba sits atop Denmark Hill with commanding views across Ipswich; Simone can now reap

the rewards of the many hours of work she has invested in the garden; rosy perfection; Simone, Jason, Lucas and Gabrielle relax on the verandah.

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Simone has spent countless hours foraging for antiques and thrift store finds to style Lakemba in keeping with its era.

ithe need for modification. We have adjusted our life comfortably around her bones and now wouldn’t have it any other way.” Lakemba was built in 1902 by a local Ipswich builder, William Betts, for his own family. He certainly scored one of the best vantage points in what was then a bustling regional centre of commerce, coal mining and industry, and Simone suspects he held nothing back in creating an enviable haven in Queensland’s second town. Close to the original business centre of Ipswich, the home attracted a well-known mercantile family, The Cribbs, in the 1930s. They called Lakemba home for almost 50 years. Simone has spent countless hours foraging for antiques and thrift store finds to style Lakemba in keeping with its era. “I would

say our style is largely British colonial,” she says. “Cane and wicker feature heavily.” Floor-to-ceiling cedar sash windows in the front parlour rooms, which now serve as the master and five-year-old Gabrielle’s bedroom, and a wide verandah stretching around three sides of the home provide ample relief from Queensland summers. “The kids love the home because they can run in and out and around the sliding sash windows,” Simone says. “They use them like little secret escapes.” Jason is an industrial chemist and Simone an environmental chemist, but this pair clearly has an eye for detail and a knack for design. “Jason hand-routed the mouldings on the verandah spaces and indoors to get an exact copy of what was there previously,” Simone says proudly. “You just can’t buy

Clockwise from opposite: High ceilings create an airy sense of space; Simone describes her style as British colonial; she has a keen

eye for an op shop treasure and a knack for creating appealing vignettes; the Hubbards open their home for National Trust tours.

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“We have given much to Lakemba, but we’ve received much more in return by providing such a unique experience for the children, from the process of restoration right through to the lifestyle we lead now.”

products to restore off the shelf. The beauty of the process is that there is always a challenge. We are not used to sitting idle, so we love the fact that there is always something we can work on.” The garden has been its own labour of love. “Jason and I have spent many weekends of the past four years behind a saw, with a shovel, holding a paintbrush, trimming or pruning,” Simone says. Striking garden beds of flourishing Iceberg roses are complemented by mini Murraya hedges, rosemary, cypress, dwarf magnolia and bushels upon bushels of French lavender abuzz with a very healthy population of bees. There are also citrus trees, a vegetable garden and a cubby house in a mango tree, built by Jason, for the kids. “We love working in the garden and then retiring with a stroll around the property taking in

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micro and maxi views, seeing the garden grow and change and the colours in the sky impress,” Simone says. “We don’t waste a single inch of what it has to offer.” After all their hard work, the family is now in the enjoyment phase of life at their beloved Lakemba, and they happily take part in the National Trust’s Great Houses of Ipswich open house weekends to show her off. “We have an enormous sense of satisfaction from having exerted ourselves to achieve something great, from seeing her come to life and having the community respond so positively,” Simone says. “We have given much to Lakemba, but we’ve received much more in return by providing such a unique experience for the children, from the process of restoration right through to the lifestyle we lead now. It’s very much the truth — no pain, no gain.”

Clockwise from above: Sash windows connect the bedrooms with the verandah and create a lovely indoor/ outdoor flow; polished

floorboards and neutral wall colours created a pleasing canvas that allowed Simone to colour in the details with furniture and fabrics.


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ROOMS WITH A VIEW Third generation sheep farmers Sally-Ann and John Cottle live in spectacular surrounds in the Monaro high country. ------------------by SIOBHAN O’BRIEN photography STEPHANIE LEES

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ost homes usually have a view of some description — a row of trees, an adjacent building or maybe nearby parklands. It’s that defining “something” that the eye is drawn to as it peers out the window at the world. Fewer homes have a selection of vistas, while a lucky few have spectacles at every turn. Sally-Ann and John Cottle’s country property, Shirley, located half an hour from Cooma, is such a place. It’s a veritable oasis that features extensive Paul Bangay designed gardens, a man-made lake and room enough for around 12,000 Merino and Dorsetcross sheep. “We returned from travels in Europe in 2006,” Sally-Ann explains, “and we were so inspired by the extraordinary gardens we had seen that we commissioned Melbournebased landscape designer, Paul Bangay, to sympathetically redesign the garden to evoke a more European style.” The result is formal gardens in close proximity to the main house that blend through to an English park-like landscape. It’s a savvy overhaul, which includes the addition of hedges, a striking parterre garden in the place of an old tennis court, two new ponds and a sizeable paved courtyard with plane trees. Luckily Paul Bangay had good bones to work with. The garden was originally established by John’s grandparents in the 1930s, with the help of renowned Southern Highlands green-thumb Claude Crowe. He was responsible for the stone walls, rare conifer species and other key plantings which remain integral to the landscape today. Just a handful of the mature trees now in existence

Clockwise from opposite: The Cottles asked landscape designer Paul Bangay to redesign the garden to give it a more European sensibility; petunas in

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an urn are a pretty and playful touch; the garden sings in spring; Shirley is a sheep station an hour’s drive from Cooma, in the heart of the NSW Snowy Mountains region.

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“My favourite part of the garden is the lake established by John’s grandfather. It provides a great place for picnics and is viewed from most parts of the garden.”

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at Shirley include oaks, elms, poplars and various cypresses. As a consequence of all this hard work, which John maintains diligently to this day, the garden is considered one of the great gardens in the Snowy Mountains region. “My favourite part of the garden is the lake established by John’s grandfather,” Sally-Ann says. “It provides a great place for picnics and is viewed from most parts of the garden. It even has a little beach and old stone barbecue.” The house is equally enchanting. It was built in 1908 and later snapped up by John’s grandparents who purchased the homestead block in 1925 to join up with the country they owned around it. When Sally-Ann and her husband moved there around two decades ago, they had their work cut out for them. “I studied at the Melbourne College of Decoration and worked as a designer for Georges of Collins Street and had years of experience in the industry,” Sally-Ann says. “So, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity of redesigning and renovating the house myself.” Today, the 430 square-metre home has many rooms, but the room that gets the most foot traffic is the open plan kitchen/living/ dining space that overlooks the garden and lake. “It’s where the whole family congregates, often with extra house guests, to enjoy cooking, eating and relaxing,” Sally-Ann says. This room is best described as a simple long room with a fireplace and sitting area up one end, kitchen in the central zone and dining table and old bench seats under the windows up the other end. “The seats come in handy for people chatting to me while I’m cooking,” Sally-Ann Clockwise from opposite: Sally-Ann in the open kitchen, which allows her to keep contact with family and friends while cooking; after years working as

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a designer for Georges of Collins Street, she relished the chance to work on her own home; crystal lends an elegant air; black walls offset toile-covered furnishings.

“The open plan kitchen/ living/dining space is where the whole family congregates, often with extra guests, to enjoy cooking, eating and relaxing.�

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Clockwise from right: Sally-Ann always has an eye on the details; pale pinks set a soothing note in the bedroom; windows frame the garden views.

adds. “Altogether, it’s a wonderful room that was an addition to the house after the war to accommodate parties, dancing and entertaining. It’s a room that works really well.” And if managing such a large home, rambling garden and all those sheep is not enough, this couple recently turned their hand to revamping an old stationhand’s cottage on the property. “John and I had a designer furniture, homewares and decorating store in Cooma for many years. We have a shared passion for good design, so it’s been a great project to work on together,” Sally-Ann explains. The quaint cottage, which is now open to the public as private, self-contained guest accommodation, was the first house the couple lived in when they shifted to the property from the big smoke. Built in 1949, it now features plush soft furnishings, all the mod cons and large windows that take in the views. It’s a place for couples keen to relax, revive and reconnect. “I am a firm believer that long-term couples just need time out from their day-to-day lives to find each other again,” Sally-Ann says. “This is basically what we created — a place to escape to, in a European garden setting. It’s the kind of place we look for when we travel to Europe.” Doubtless, in a game of make-believe, visitors to this glorious property could convince themselves they had somehow been transported to Provence or Tuscany. At Shirley three generations of vision, passion and labour show the rest of us how things should be done. For more information visit shirleygarden

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Keeping tradition Roz and Peter Seppelt respect age-old skills and a long history of hospitality at their South Australian home. --------------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography ROSS WILLIAMS styling BRONTE CAMILLERI

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he plan, as much as Roz and Peter Seppelt had one, was to take Peter’s family’s hobby farm and transform it into a business. But as is always the case, there were a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. Nonetheless, after slightly more than a decade of hard slog, the Seppelts now have an enterprise that both perpetuates Peter’s family tradition of hospitality and takes it to a whole new level. Peter is a fifth-generation scion of the house of Seppelt, which was founded in 1851 when Jospeh Seppelt, a migrant merchant from Prussia (now Poland) arrived in Australia and established a vineyard and winery called Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley. Today the Canary Island date palm-lined driveway leading to the splendid bluestone winery

buildings are a landmark on the Barossa landscape as iconic as the Para liqueur ports, sparkling Shiraz and fino sherry for which the label is famous. However the family partnership was dissolved in 1984 and Peter’s parents moved on to a 300-acre (122-hectare) farm, just six kilometres from Mount Pleasant. From there, Peter went on to study wine at Roseworthy Agricultural College, now part of the University of Adelaide. On holidays from school and college, Peter threw himself into helping his parents Clockwise from opposite: Horses brought Roz to Mount Pleasant and riding remains a passion to the present day; stone

work is Peter’s signature; splendid sculptures punctuate the grounds at Grand Cru Estate; Melinda lakeside with the Golden Retrievers.

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Peter found he had a gift for DIY and, guided by a local German-trained master stonemason and builder, he developed considerable building skills of his own.

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This pic: A country luxury ... lakeside creates the perfect setting for an outdoor tub. Opposite: Roz and Peter have turned the dam into a lake and paddocks into gardens.

restore a derelict 1889 bluestone homestead on the farm. Peter found he had a gift for DIY and, guided by a local German-trained master stonemason and builder, he developed considerable building skills of his own. By the time of his first marriage he had thrown himself into converting the property’s meathouse and cellar into a cottage for his young family. Between times, Peter made wine from fruit from the family’s 30-acres of vines, which include the Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet and Shiraz for which the Eden Valley region is famous. Meanwhile, Tasmanian-born Roz attended agricultural college at Glen Ormiston in Victoria and, after graduation, secured jobs in Penola and Naracoorte in South Australia. Always a keen horse rider, Roz and Peter

met when she came to Mount Pleasant to compete in an event. The rest, as they say, is history and just over a decade ago, they were married on the farm. “I married the children as well,” Roz says matter-of-factly. “Melinda is now 22 and a chef and Tristan is 21 and training in property development, but we are very much a family unit and everything we do is aimed at working together as a family. Since we took over from Peter’s parents in 2006, we’ve turned paddocks into gardens and the dam into a lake. Everything we’ve done has been hands-on and largely thanks to Peter’s passion for building.” Grand Cru Estate today is a working winery with a weekend restaurant based around a wood-fired pizza oven, a farm for black-faced

“The best part is when our visitors arrive on Friday a bit stressed and tired of life and leave two days later looking completely different.”

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Suffolk sheep, and the original homestead is now a self-catering accommodation venue for up to three couples. Pretty much everything has been made or renovated by Peter. “He’s put his heart and soul into the place,” Roz says. “Anything that isn’t original has been built by Peter … and anything old will also have received his attention … the restaurant and cellar door, the tower, the homestead, the cottage. Visitors to the homestead arrive to fires blazing in the winter, breakfast and, if required, dinner provisions in the fridge, Estate-grown-and-bottled wines. “They need never venture off the property if they don’t want to,” Roz says. “But if they do, we are strategically positioned about 20 minutes to Angaston in the heart of the Barossa Valley,

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the same distance to the Adelaide Hills and also to the Murray River.” On farm there are Hattie the Highland cow, Daisy the Hereford, the sheep and horses to provide photo opportunities for visitors. The Golden Retreivers, Malt, Maddie, and Maisie are part of the reception committee, and Roz’s “girls”, the hens, provide the wonderful eggs that are part of the breakfast hamper. “We love to showcase everything that is great about our region and encourage our guests help themselves to the vegie and herb garden and to visit the Saturday farmers’ market in Mount Pleasant,” Roz says. “The best part is when our visitors arrive on Friday a bit stressed and tired of life and leave two days later looking like completely different people.”

In an unexpected twist, the Seppelts have now developed a bit of a sideline taking workshops showing people how Peter has achieved all the renovations and improvements. “Everyone loves pizza, particularly from Peter’s wood-fired ovens, so they want to know how to build one. Plus he shows people how to build with stone and countless other building skills. It’s one of those turns of events that we could never have predicted, but it does feel very right to be sharing age-old skills and traditions.” Clockwise from above: Ripple iron makes a feature in the dining area; shoe lasts create a talking point on the wall; Peter was still a

teenager when he helped his parents restore the main building; Peter shows visitors how to build a wood-fired oven and make great pizza.

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PADDOCK TO PLATE A career in catering has taken Brigid Kennedy from the high seas to the Southern Highlands of NSW. But her heart has never strayed far from the farm where she grew up. ---------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography KEN BR ASS


y her own account, New Zealandborn caterer Brigid Kennedy gained her first job picking raspberries at the age of 10 and has been “full throttle” ever since. “Growing up in the Taranaki region of the North Island in the 1970s, we knew about hard work,” she says. “Britain had entered the EU [European Union], so suddenly the demand for New Zealand butter and lamb just disappeared. They were tough times for farmers all over the country. My mother went back to working as a nurse and we all had to help out on the farm. I wanted a bike, and there was no way I was getting one without earning the money to pay for it myself.” There may not have been much fruit on the sideboard, but there was always plenty of food on the table. Brigid recalls growing up in a family of cooks and gardeners. “My nanna was a top notch CWA baker,” she says. “She was known for her rum balls and Louise cake. Mum was more of a savoury person and she never served fewer than five vegetables with a meal. Dad was always tending the vegies as we had a five-acre market garden on the farm and of course we had our own chickens and ate our own beef. Like most farm kids I learned very early on to divorce myself from the fact that my pet lamb was destined to end up on the plate.” Brigid progressed from raspberries to picking kiwifruit and strawberries, and by the time she left school she had saved enough to buy a ticket to Australia. She went to Queensland and gained her first job in hospitality. “Actually I had three jobs,” she recalls. “I’d worked out that I wanted to go to

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Clockwise from opposite: The huge kitchen garden provides great inspiration for guest meals; it also connects children with their food source;

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a basket of freshly harvested goodies will find its way onto the table; a blackboard advertises the weekend’s farmgate offerings of locally grown produce.

Le Cordon Bleu in London so I waited tables, worked in a cafe and in a five-star hotel.” She achieved that goal in 1984 when she completed the year-long diploma course. She recalls that the experience was indeed blue ribbon training and says she was lucky enough to be singled out by her instructors. from the rest of her class comprised primarily of aristocratic offspring. “I think they recognised my determination,” she says. “I was often called upon to bake cakes for special occasion events, when the school had important visitors.” From there Brigid headed to the French Alps for a season working in ski lodges and then spent a year working as a chef on private yachts in the Mediterranean. “It was great fun and I loved the life,” she says. “You really learned about seasonality when you were visiting little ports that had absolutely no imported food and you had to learn to make the most of whatever came from their gardens and orchards. Eventually I got a job on a yacht that was sailing the Atlantic and I ended up in Brazil. The owners had just left the boat and the crew was staying on to do repairs and maintenance when we were hijacked by bandits. It was a pretty traumatic experience and we all genuinely feared for our lives for a while. They took one of our crew, and although he was eventually released, it kind of took the lustre off life on the high seas.” She headed back to London and the relative safety of boardroom catering, then used the funds she’d saved from cruising to further her skills by studying pastry and seafood at La Varenne cooking school in Paris. Returning to Sydney in 1989, she took “strategic” positions for various caterers, always with an eye to opening her own business. Hard work and long hours were the norm and Brigid also used this time to put a toe in the water of starting her own catering outfit by selling cakes at Glebe markets. “It became the norm for me to put in a full day at work then go home and bake till three or four in the morning,” she recalls. “There was no other way to get the volume of cakes I needed for the stall on the weekends.” By 1995 she felt ready to take the plunge into self employment and started Simmer Catering. “Of course it was hard work,” she recalls. ‘‘But

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Clockwise from opposite: Kevin deals in, and restores, antique furniture so pieces are dotted throughout the farmhouse; beets fresh from the garden; Brigid

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harvests rainbow chard in her happy place; on weekends The Loch becomes a farmgate stall selling everything from flowers and eggs to surplus fruit and vegies.

it didn’t feel like it because I was doing what I loved. The early 2000s proved challenging, however, as finding reliable venues was becoming more and more difficult. So in 2005 I really went out on a limb and bought my own place. I did it with 110 per cent finance, which you just couldn’t do today. But I had a good client base, and I’d found a great waterfront location at Walsh Bay with its own jetty, close to the city, with lots of parking. I certainly couldn’t afford a lull of any sort, but I had a lot of positives to make it work.” And make it work she has, with her norest-for-the-wicked work ethic, devotion to fresh produce and ability to constantly keep an eye out for the next big thing. The lure of the land has never been far away, and in between running the business and constant cooking, Brigid found time to buy a farm at Joadja in the Southern Highlands and run it in conjunction with her father, who relocated from New Zealand in 1995. “Dad taught me many things,” she says. “Sadly he passed away last year and he is sadly missed. But his legacy lives on in my latest project, The Loch, which is a business I have established with my husband, Kevin Nott.” The Loch is a 100-acre (40-hectare) farm near Berrima where Brigid and Kevin run their horses, Angus cattle and are planning the next phase of their surprisingly synchronous careers. Kevin also grew up on a farm, started life as a shearer, and at different times has run his father’s antiques shop and worked as a landscaper and a bar manager. He is also a dab hand at furniture restoration. “I’ve always loved antiques,” Brigid says. “My father trained racehorses in New Zealand so we grew up around the racetrack. Whenever Mum had a win at the races, she would spend it on a piece of furniture.” So in 2011 when they bought The Loch, which is named for the five-acre dam on the property, and had an old stable building on it, their initial thought was to turn it into a lodge for the horsey fraternity to holiday in. They built elegant self-catering accommodation for eight guests above the stables and set about establishing a huge orchard and kitchen garden so Brigid could satisfy her desire to

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Clockwise from above: Offerings from the garden are dotted throughout the house; a preserving pot has

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been repurposed as a bathroom basin; spacious and elegantly furnished bedrooms greet guests at The Loch.

keep a connection with the land and also provide home produce for their guests. “It turned out that people attending equestrian events preferred to camp in their trucks,” she says. “So we opened the guest house up to weekend and short break visitors and gradually Kevin moved his furniture restoration into the stables.” It was only a matter of time before the garden started delivering more produce than Brigid and Kevin and their guests could ever hope to consume, so Brigid hit on the idea of opening a farmgate produce stall on Sundays. These days she divides her time between Simmer on the Bay during the week and The Loch on weekends. “I’m a collaborator by nature,” she observes. “I’ve been head of the Walsh Bay Chamber of Commerce for years and I know from that experience that you achieve a lot more when you get a community involved. So I came up with the idea of showcasing other local producers’ wares on our produce stall and also developing a food trail through the area so visitors can actually go and visit the farms one weekend every month.” Visitors to The Loch get to sample the produce of the region through tasting plates served in the garden. Brigid spends her weekends making jams, preserves and pickles from her garden surplus as well as cakes and savoury snacks for picnickers. She also offers slow-cooked packaged meals made with local produce as well as raw produce for cooks to take home and sells flowers from the garden. “As well as fruit and veg we use our own lamb, beef and eggs,” Brigid says. “We’ve pretty much got all the food groups covered. If I could just catch a fish I could add trout from our dam to that list. But as it is I have to wait for fly fishers to come and do it for me. I love the complete cycle that we have down here. We grow it and then I cook what we grow. It feels very right. Eventually I hope to move down here permanently. It would be lovely to see a locavore restaurant develop from this. Meanwhile, it feels good to be laying the foundations for the next decade or so.” For more information on The Loch farm visit


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Restoration drama Collectors, heritage lovers and restoration enthusiasts Dominic and Marie Romeo spent more than two years breathing life back into one of Victoria’s heritage-listed hill stations. ---------------by SUE PEACOCK photography KIM SELBY

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ominic Romeo always knew there was something special at the end of the narrow driveway high on the southern slopes of Mount Macedon. While some would-be buyers shuddered when they arrived at the top, Dominic knew he had found his next home as soon as he opened his car door. “I could tell from the front gate,” he says. “I just knew that up that drive there was something amazing.” Karori is a heritage-listed, two-storey, six-bedroom hill station property on Victoria’s Mount Macedon, an hour north of Melbourne. When Dominic came to have a look at it, he found the historic 1880s SwissItalian-style chalet languishing in the winter mist. It hadn’t been lived in for a year and was damp, cold and full of mould.

The sprawling garden, with its notable collection of North American and New Zealand conifers and cool-climate, deciduous plants, was choking under the weight of blackberries and other weeds. The Romeos already knew of the house, having been approached to buy it a couple of years prior. “We weren’t in a position to take it on at that time but that had changed when it came onto the market in 2011,” Dominic says. Where others may have been daunted, Dominic and Marie — who have a tourism and hospitality background — were excited by the project. They have, after all, had plenty of practice rescuing country estates from neglect and ruin. During the past 15 years, they have restored and operated many of Victoria’s historic buildings including the 50-room Italianate

mansion Rupertswood (birthplace of the Ashes) at Sunbury, and Burnewang, a 34-room Jacobean- and Elizabethan-style house on the banks of the Campaspe River at Elmore. Compared to them, Karori, with just six bedrooms, was a weekend job. It also followed the renovation of two previous Mount Macedon homes, Timsbury and Benue Lodge. Designed by Italian-born architect Louis Boldini for Kiwi mining and pastoral investor Charles Chapman in 1888, Karori (named after a Wellington suburb) is listed on Victoria’s Clockwise from opposite: Visitors have described the gardens as a plantsman’s paradise; the garden has been cleared of woody weeds to better display

its collection; autumn signature; Karori is noted for its North American and New Zealand conifers and cool-climate plants and has many heritage-listed trees.

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“I’ve gone with quite bold carpets and curtains and used chandeliers to brighten the interiors up and create a bit of drama, while ensuring there is some warmth in what are large rooms.” 134 Australian Country HOMES

heritage register. A major bonus was that it was virtually unchanged from its original form when the Romeos discovered it. “The house hadn’t really been tampered with, apart from a tiny bit in the kitchen and downstairs,” Dominic says. “So it hasn’t been a difficult project in the sense that it mainly had cosmetic changes.” Gutting the old kitchen provided an opportunity to bring much-needed light into the house via a white colour palette. In keeping with their philosophy of restore and reuse, the old Aga stove was retained in addition to a new cooker. Some smaller rooms in the hallway leading into the main bedroom were realigned to accommodate an ensuite in the master bedroom. Other bathrooms, which were Spartan to say the least, have also been sensitively upgraded. Being on the heritage register meant approval was needed for the smallest of

changes. Not that Dominic, who is a board member of the National Trust and passionate about the restoration of historic buildings, and Marie, an interior decorator and owner of Bellholme, a heritage restoration business in nearby Kyneton, mind such restrictions. “They are not unreasonable demands,” Marie says. “They are there for a reason but there is also an understanding that homes like this need to be able to meet contemporary living requirements.” For Marie, the challenge was how to decorate what she describes is a “very masculine” house. There was no question of painting over the timber walls, which meant being creative with the soft furnishings. She chose quite bold carpets and curtains and used chandeliers to brighten the interiors up and create a bit of drama, while ensuring there is some warmth in what are large rooms.

For Dominic, the social history of the property is very important. As is the broader infrastructure, which once included stables, a tennis court, an orchard and flower-picking garden, a greenhouse and a gardener’s cottage. Unfortunately, much of it was lost during the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983. Luckily, he has had an extensive photo collection to refer to, with more than 1000 photos provided by the Dewez family, who owned the house from the turn of the century to the early ’70s. A few years ago members of the Dewez family returned for a tour and a barbecue on the lawn tennis court. Clockwise from opposite: Marie describes the interiors as being quite masculine but she chose not to paint over the timber panelling and instead

opted to be creative with the soft furnishings; she used bold colours and chandeliers to brighten the interiors and create a bit of drama in the Swiss-Italian chalet.

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Clockwise from this pic: Marie and Dominic kept the old Aga and installed a new cooker as well; light colours and florals contrast with all the timber; woodland hints inside; a revamped bathroom.

Karori’s predominantly woodland garden is also historically significant with one of its Douglas firs the tallest in Victoria. There are also 121 other significant trees listed on Victoria’s heritage register. “The Dewez family brought in seeds and seedling plants and trees from Canada, New Zealand and Europe,” Dominic says. Gardener Cathy Newing, who has worked on other hill station properties on the mountain, describes the garden as a “plantsman’s paradise”. “Its trees are what make it special,” she says. “The fact that it has gone through a period of neglect is OK; it is often good for gardens to do this and I like to garden where it appears the hand of man is absent.” Cathy has overseen the establishment of the vegetable garden and a picking garden with the planting of more than 1000 tulip bulbs, heritage apple trees, medlars and

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quinces in the orchard and berries in the old berry patch. Not a bad effort considering the site gets virtually no direct sunlight from April to October. “I have also spent a lot of time getting rid of all the woody weeds,” Cathy explains. ‘‘It’s made it a lot easier to enjoy the whole garden.’’ With the restoration of Karori, apart from the garden, complete, Dominic has turned his attention to his next project, a country estate in Victoria’s Western District. “It is a huge 26-room, bluestone homestead built in 1905 and surrounded by amazing 1860s bluestone stables, coach house and manager’s residence,” he says. “The original 1860s homestead was demolished and the current house sits surrounded by a very, very run-down garden in the middle of a 4000-acre farm. My job is to bring it back to life.” The property couldn’t be in better hands.

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SEEDS OF INSPIRATION Susan Volz’s mission is to solve the disconnection between urban dwellers and food production. ----------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE photography KEN BR ASS

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s a youngster growing up in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, Susan Volz loved nothing more than holidays on her grandparents’ vegie farm in the Lockyer Valley. “We never had flash holidays,” she recalls. “All the cousins would get together and in the mornings we’d help out with harvest or whatever else needed doing on the farm. Then we’d all have lunch together and spend the afternoons running wild, swimming in the creek, building cubbies, doing what kids do when they are left to their own devices.” Little wonder then that when Susan and her husband, David, went looking for somewhere to build a home on Brisbane’s periphery, they bought a 3.75-acre (1.5-hectare) former orchard the day they first inspected. Located at Highvale in the lush Samford Valley, the property had been planted years earlier to mango, lychee, carambola and custard apple trees. Susan and David designed their home to look as though it had been there forever, but with very contemporary passive solar features to ensure its footprint on the land was minimal. Orientation, cross ventilation and thermal mass ensure the house requires negligible heating and cooling, even when summer temperatures soar. “We wanted all the features of an old homestead — high ceilings, wide floorboards and an open feel,” Susan explains. “But we also made sure there were nooks that could be closed off for a cosy feel and we were lucky that a builder friend of my father helped us realise our dream.” When it came to colouring in the finer details, Susan would pack the babies (Emily and Henry, now teenagers) in the car, with an Esky full of snacks and drinks and head off in search of garage sales, roadside clearances and junk shops. “Before the internet age, you had no choice but to get out on the road and search out pieces individually,” she recalls.

Clockwise from left: Chooks are central to a home-grown ethos; Susan in her garden shed; a place for pottering about; with Susan’s eye for design

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and Dave’s knack for revamping and repurposing old objects, the couple has been able to build a business creating rustic props for country-style homes.

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“These days you could do it all from the comfort of your home via eBay or Etsy. But I was well equipped as I’d been a collector of vintage stuff since I was a kid. When I was still at school I had a job at a hairdressing salon and I spent my first pay on a little suitcase from the local trash and treasure shop. If I’d known there was such a career as interior design I probably would have pursued it.” Instead she joined the sales staff of Ansett Airlines, where she met David, who still works in the aviation industry in fuel supply and distribution. This encouraged her natural curiosity as a traveller, and trips overseas and interstate provided even greater opportunities for her bowerbird instincts. So by the time they settled into the Highvale house, Susan had amassed a considerable array of collectables. Dave’s innate handyman skills came to the fore and he was frequently deployed to repair and repurpose her many finds. Susan adds that the business potential of her interests didn’t dawn on her until about a decade ago when a friend asked her if she could find or make her a garden trug she had admired as a Christmas gift. “Then another friend saw it and wanted one too,” she recalls. “From little things, big things grow, and suddenly I realised that Dave and I made a good team with me finding old objects and him restoring them and giving them a new lease on life. On his days off he also makes items such as storage units, benches and garden signs from old timbers we collect.” Before long, Our Kitchen Garden, a store specialising in home and garden wares with a rustic bent was born, with an online component as well as a shopfront in the hinterland township of Dayboro. “Dayboro may only be 20 minutes from Samford, but it feels like going back 20 years,” she says. “As property closer to Brisbane becomes more expensive, lots of young people with an interest in living Clockwise from left: The homestead sits on 1.5 hectares so there is plenty of room for quiet reflection; a display of watering cans adds visual interest on the

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verandah; a collector for as long as she can remember, Susan has a highly developed ability to see the potential in found objects and give them a new lease on life.

“From little things, big things grow, and suddenly I realised that Dave and I made a good team with me finding old objects and him restoring them and giving them a new lease on life.”

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Clockwise from this pic: A fabulous eat-in kitchen is the hub of the home; freshly picked produce; Susan’s journey began with a suitcase.

more sustainably are moving out there and I think it’s going to become a real food hub.” As “there were only so many mangoes you can eat” Susan reinvented the Highvale orchard with a huge kitchen garden planted to every conceivable edible plant and a healthy balance of companion flowers. A resident population of chooks and a goat complete the picture of bucolic bliss. Surplus fruit is put to good use with a Fowlers Vacola unit passed on by her grandmother. As the chief cook and entertainer in her family, Susan says she is keen to redress the disconnection many urban dwellers experience from the source of their food, and is adamant that serving food fresh from the garden or farm is a vital step towards good health and fulfilment. Having outgrown the Our Kitchen Garden workshop at Highvale, Susan and Dave have moved to larger premises. They have recently purchased an old dairy farm closer to Dayboro and are in the process of renovating the property and its buildings. “It’s a huge move for all of us,” Susan says. “Having lived in our purpose-built homestead for more than a decade, we are adjusting to coping in a cottage. We have big plans for our new property and they include an even bigger vegie garden to support a cooking school. As well, we are building a much larger workshop for Our Kitchen Garden.” A firm believer that ‘if you build it, they will come’ Susan says her sister, Michelle Smith, who is a trained chef, will help with the cooking classes and surplus produce, pickles, and preserves will be sold through the shop. “Dayboro already attracts day trippers from Brisbane,” she explains. “I am sure we will draw more tourists with the expansion of the business. Ultimately I’d like to create a kind of creative hub, where people gather to learn new skills, practise holistic living and, of course, share good home-grown food. Meanwhile, Dave and I are at our happiest when we are together in the workshop, so eventually we hope he will transition from his staff job to self-employment. It’s a big change but we are all looking forward to the next chapter.” For more information visit

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Australian Country Homes Issue#1  

From the grand country estates and sprawling homesteads that only an accident of birth can provide to the charming and cosy cottages that ar...

Australian Country Homes Issue#1  

From the grand country estates and sprawling homesteads that only an accident of birth can provide to the charming and cosy cottages that ar...