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-----------6 Editor’s letter 17 Marketplace 8 Character study A rustic retreat in the Yarra Valley is the perfect place for Dani Venn to recharge her seemingly inexhaustible batteries 18 An urban barn Serial renovator Vanessa Goulmy took inspiration from the Depression era for the renovation of her Queenslander 26 Hampton hideaway Jen Ballard is an unabashed Francophile so it’s little wonder her Blue Mountains retreat has a decidedly Gallic accent 34 Daylesford dreaming Melbourne designer and vintage store proprietor Lyn Gardener waved an elegant yet quirky wand over her weekender in Victoria’s spa country 42 Down the garden bath ... Our temperate climate, striking natural vistas and talented designers make al fresco bathing all the more appealing 48 A patch of paradise Jo Graham spotted the potential of her shack more than two decades ago and filled it with her unique brand of serenity and love 60 Living the dream When writing is a way of laughing at a situation, the journey through life can go a little bit smoother 68 Ruling the roost Sustainability is at the core of every aspect of Adam Marks’ winery, ciderie, kitchen garden and weekend restaurant 78 In her element Earth, water, air and fire inspire Sunshine Coast designer Lisa Day to create natural jewellery and homewares 86 Light fantastic A passion for photography and a penchant for the past informs designer Aldona Kimeć’s interior style 94 The handmade table The wheel has turned a full circle for ceramicist Shannon Garson, who now lives very happily in the country town she once couldn’t wait to leave

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94 42 120

Subscribe today Receive four issues of Australian Country Homes for just $29.95. See page 66 for details of this amazing offer.




Boh Bo Boho B ooho hhoo & beau beeaut eaaut a tiful tiful ifu fu f


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102 Rachael’s retreat Interior designer and stylist Rachael Leslie has redefined the art of creatively inspired clutter in her Daylesford home and guest house 112 Riverside revival Jane and Neil Mackenzie have traded hectic corporate lives for a bucolic existence on the NSW mid-north coast

120 Flower power As befits the founder of a bouquetbased charity, Shannon Yeardley’s home in the Brisbane hinterland is filled with, and surrounded by, flowers 126 Singing the blues Ellie Ramsay’s home is a tribute to years of hard work and a passion for blue, specifically indigo

ell XSm roses On the Bellarine Peninsula

The Darling Downs & Brickendon Estate

132 Benchmark beach shack Once a die-hard city slicker, Diane Perkins has embraced a gentler pace of life by moving to a beach house on the NSW south coast 138 Treasure hunter Sue Clohesy’s talent for interior styling has left its mark on many homes in her Victorian hometown of Mildura HOMES Australian Country 5


elcome to our second issue of Australian Country Homes. Thanks to you, our lovely readers, who responded so enthusiastically to our first issue, we have been encouraged to make this a quarterly publication. And so we have gathered together some of our all-time favourite stories from Australian Country magazine and are thrilled to be presenting them for your enjoyment. We’ve also added inspirational pages at the end of each story, to make it easier for you to achieve a look that appeals. The adage that the kitchen is the heart of the home is especially apt in the country where generations of passionate cooks and bakers have honed their skills to perfection. Cooking for family and friends is second nature in the bush, where the nearest restaurants and takeaways are often many miles away, so hospitality is, by necessity, home-based. This issue has a particular focus on the country kitchen and the many ways the talented decorators we feature choose to make theirs a signature space. The bathroom, too, is a place of retreat and respite and as well as lots of lovely rustic bathrooms, we are excited to present a story about the growing trend for outdoor baths. After all, a lack of close neighbours is one of many privileges country living affords and we hope you will agree that the baths featured in this issue give new meaning to the expression splendid isolation. As always, the homes we love the most are often the ones money can’t buy. They are put together by talented owners who have a great eye for a roadside cast off, an op shop find, and eBay or Etsy bargains. We are endlessly grateful for the generosity of the people who open their homes to our team and so generously share their stories with us. So thanks to everyone for making this issue happen and we look forward to doing it all again with the next issue, which goes on sale May 3.


-----------------------------------------------Editor Kirsty McKenzie Design Rachel Henderson Features Editor Alice Griffin Proofreader Haidi Bernhardt Photography Ken Brass, John Downs, Tim James, Anastasia Kariofyllidis, Kim Selby, Sue Stubbs Contributors Simone Barter, Paula Bridges, Meryl Hancock, Paul Maloney, Kathy Mexted, Siobhan O’Brien, Sue Peacock, Tahn Scoon, Tamara Simoneau

To subscribe visit or ring 1300 303 414

Australian Country Homes (No 2) 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 1323-9708/2208-1100 Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXVIII ACN 003 026 944

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Chairman/CEO Prema Perera Publisher Janice Williams Chief Financial Officer Vicky Mahadeva Associate Publisher Emma Perera Finance & Administration Manager James Perera Creative Director Kate Podger Editorial & Production Manager Anastasia Casey Marketing & Acquisitions Manager Chelsea Peters

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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CHARACTER STUDY A rustic retreat in the Yarra Valley is the perfect place for Dani Venn to recharge her seemingly inexhaustible batteries. -------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography KIM SELBY


Clockwise from above: Dani and little Harlow love the relaxed lifestyle that the cottage at Smiths Gully provides; the family has made few alterations to the heritage-listed, early-1900s miner’s cottage.

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dle is not a word in Dani Venn’s vocabulary. When Australian Country caught up with the selftaught cook and 2011 MasterChef Australia finalist, she was juggling the joint responsibilities of running her own food consultancy and raising her two-and-a-halfyear-old daughter, Harlow. She was also in the throes of organising her wedding to her long-time partner, construction manager Chris Burgess, helping him and a couple of mates launch a bar in Melbourne’s inner north and arranging to host two wellness retreats in Bali. In her “spare” time she adds that she’s gearing up for her busiest time of year as an awareness ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA). “I do feel like I work a lot,” she says. “But I’m fortunate that I can pick my hours so I work when Harlow goes to sleep. And I have a nice balance because we are so lucky to live a semirural life on acreage at Smiths Gully. It feels like living in the country, but it’s less than an hour’s drive from the CBD.” By sheer coincidence Dani grew up not far away at Research, which she describes as being “on the cusp of the Yarra Valley”. She recalls a free-spirited childhood riding horses and motorbikes and swimming in dams. Her grandparents lived a few houses away and there were plenty of extended family gatherings, with everyone congregating around a laden table. “My mother is an amazing cook and she was a big fan of Elizabeth Chong,” Dani says. “At a time when meat and three veg were the norm, Mum was always ducking off to one of Elizabeth’s classes and our pantry was full of what at the time seemed exotic ingredients such as salted black beans and black vinegar. Dad’s mother was a great cook as well and she always made everything from scratch.” A stint teaching English in Vietnam and travelling throughout South-East Asia during

HOMES Australian Country 9

Clockwise from opposite: Bold tiles decorate the kitchen; the cottage is filled with mementos; cookbooks abound; vintage kitchenware is put to good use; a former MasterChef contestant, Dani has always loved cooking.

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her gap year further cemented Dani’s love of Asian flavours and she proudly reports that despite the usual toddler foibles, Harlow has inherited her tastes and is a die-hard dumpling fan. In May and July of this year Dani will be further sharing her passion when she hosts two wellness retreats at Komune Resort on Bali’s east coast. She adds that she’s looking forward to sharing the experience and a break from her hectic schedule with her communications consultancy, Eat It Up Creative. “I deal with the full gamut of food-related publicity and promotions,” she explains. “That covers everything from recipe development, menu planning, food styling and photography to event management, social media, brand development and customer service. It’s pretty full-on at times, but I’m lucky that I work in an area I’m passionate about.” Dani recalls contemplating becoming a chef as a youngster, but somehow she was waylaid and diverted into a career in arts management and publicity. Nonetheless food, its preparation, sharing and eating were never far from her horizon. Being selected for MasterChef 2011 was a complete game changer. “It was an incredible privilege to work alongside and learn from an amazing lineup of chefs,” she recalls. “You have to be genuinely obsessed with food, because there is no way you would survive in that house without it. But it was amazing how much I learned from the others in the house as there’s a lot of knowledge in that pool and mostly people are keen to share it. If I were to do it again I think I might believe in myself a bit more, and be more competitive. But I’ve always been up for a challenge and I’m very grateful for the opportunities it gave me.” Having followed up the intense nine months of MasterChef Australia 2011, when she made it to final four, with the 2012 Olympicsvying MasterChef All Stars, Dani and Chris started looking for somewhere to live in the inner city. “But we couldn’t find anything that suited so Chris suggested we look further out,” she recalls. “He actually found our place on a website, but we dismissed it as being not right for our current lifestyle. Then, purely by accident, we happened to be driving in the

HOMES Australian Country 11

Clockwise from opposite: Harlow takes a dip in the outdoor tub; Dani loves the wonky nature and quirks of her home; a rough-and-ready rustic bouquet; the cottage’s character and charm wooed the couple.

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area and saw the sign. As we recognised the property we pulled up and coincidentally the real estate agent was there and showed us through. Now this place is built for hobbits and Chris is six foot seven, so it seemed ridiculous. I mean who buys a house that they can’t stand up in and have to duck to get through the doors? But it has so much character and charm that we were hooked. Of course we bought it, and it’s turned out to be a very good move.” Dani adds that while the grounds needed tidying up, they have made few alterations to the heritage-listed early 1900s miner’s cottage, which is a mixture of mud brick and wattle and daub in construction. They did, however, install some timber floors over the earthen originals and strip back parts of the walls to expose the tree trunk foundations. “We also repainted and did quite a lot of work repairing the fences,” she adds. “We added a deck with a wood-fired oven for outdoor entertaining and incorporated a raised bed vegie garden into it. Of course, since Harlow came along we don’t give it as much attention as it deserves, but it is still a great asset when planning meals. I’ve always loved outdoor baths and Chris surprised me by installing one when I was away. The other great delight is the outbuildings. Harlow has a really cute cubby and there’s a shed that a potter who once lived here built as a studio. We may eventually turn that into an entertaining area or guest accommodation. But for now we’re happy living in this somewhat eccentric house, where the walls are all a bit wonky and nothing lines up. It’s a world away from the city but still within striking distance.” Never one to shirk a challenge, Dani says she was a bit taken aback when she was approached to enter a triathalon in support of OCA. “I’d never done anything like it before, but I took it as a good excuse to gain fitness,” she recalls. “I must confess I didn’t know much about ovarian cancer at the time. But the more I learned the more I realised how important it is for women to be informed and recognise the signs. Every year in Australia 1550 women are diagnosed and 1200 die from the disease. Unfortunately, the five-year survival rate is 43 per cent. Compare that, for example, with breast cancer, which has a fiveyear survival rate of 89 per cent.”

HOMES Australian Country 13

Clockwise from top: Family comes first for Dani; rhubarb from the vegie garden is wheeled straight to the kitchen; quirky additions and rustic elements complement the historic miner’s cottage.

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Among the other facts Dani is keen to point out are the symptoms which can easily be dismissed as a host of other female conditions relating to menopause, the menstrual cycle or even just a busy life. “They commonly include pelvic and abdominal pain, persistent bloating, feeling full after eating small amounts, reduced energy or increased fatigue and persistent urination,” she says. “The point is, if they are unusual, you should seek medical attention because women have an 80 per cent chance of five-year survival if they are diagnosed and treated early.” Family history is also important, particularly for women with two or more first-degree relatives who have suffered ovarian or breast cancer. Testing for genetic predisposition is available, though it is not common in Australia, and there is currently no early detection test for ovarian cancer or mass screening program. As well as this, government funding for ovarian cancer has halved in comparison to 10 years ago. “For all these reasons I decided I should do what I could to get the message out,” Dani says. “When I was approached by OCA to become an ambassador, I was delighted to accept. I mainly help out by speaking at events and then each year I host an Afternoon Teal, to share information over afternoon tea.” While these events are usually open to the public, this year Dani decided to make her Afternoon Teal a private one, as she rolled it into a hen’s party to celebrate her upcoming marriage to Chris. “It’s a busy year so I decided to let my friends help out by asking them to support the cause. Hopefully they will all donate and we can turn a fun get together into a significant contribution. “I don’t have a huge profile, but I’m happy to use what I do have to raise awareness and support for OCA,” she says. “It would be great if others followed suit and even though February is the official Afternoon Teal month, it’s never too early to start planning. If you register your Afternoon Teal, OCA will send you a kit, which helps with planning and even includes teal balloons and a couple of recipes from yours truly.” For more information visit ovariancancer. To register your Afternoon Teal visit

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16 Australian Country HOMES

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Your caffeinated morning pick-me-up will be all the more blissful with these gorgeous porcelain espresso cups and saucers from Gemma Wightman in tow. Hand-thrown on the potter’s wheel, these delightful sets are available in a turquoise or cream glaze.

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Vanessa loves her light-filled kitchen.

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An urban barn Serial renovator Vanessa Goulmy took inspiration from the resourceful Depression era for the renovation of her inner-Brisbane Queenslander. ----------------by TAMAR A SIMONEAU photography ANASTASIA K ARIOFYLLIDIS

HOMES Australian Country 19

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here’s a tangible country vibe in Vanessa Goulmy’s home, which is unexpected given it’s a stone’s throw from inner city Brisbane. It might have something to do with the fact that there’s a barn in the backyard (more on that later). Or it might be her collection of carefully curated vintage finds that lends a homely warmth as you amble from room to room. Fretwork archways beckon you to pass through, to pad further along the old hoop pine flooring that’s felt a thousand footsteps before. It’s easy to see that every detail of this renovation has been pondered, planned and pondered some more, before being carried out. “When we purchased the house it was liveable but small, with just two bedrooms and one bathroom,” Vanessa says. “The workers’ cottage had been roughly built-in downstairs and needed a full renovation. As was often done to create more room in these small houses, the front verandah had been enclosed sometime in the 1980s. Being a modest workers’ cottage, there were very few grand features in the house; it was built for function rather than elegance. Fortunately, though, the ubiquitous timber arch separating the lounge and dining areas had survived.”

Vanessa and her builder husband, Stephen, are expert renovators, having transformed 13 houses together during their 23-year marriage, so they weren’t intimated by the journey that lay before them. “We were able to determine that the house is an asymmetrical bungalow built sometime between 1920 and 1935,” she says. “This was a popular style for the period. I purchased a great book, printed locally by the Brisbane History Group about restoring Queenslanders with lots of detail about early20th century building styles.” That book became a renovation bible, as the couple set about turning their little workers’ cottage into a three-bedroom and two-and-ahalf bathroom home perfectly in tune with its era, and fit for their family of two growing boys, two dogs and four chooks. “Everything downstairs is new, but we used old doors and handles sourced from demolition yards and reclaimed hoop pine flooring which is around 100 years old, it was a good match for the original floor,” Vanessa says. ‘‘Bricks for the fireplace, paving and retaining walls were sourced from Sydney and are between 60 and 100 years old. The island bench came from an antique store here in Brisbane and is a late-1800s Dutch shop counter. We replaced the

Clockwise from above: Found in an antique store in Brisbane, the yellow island bench served as a Dutch shop counter in the late 1800s;

the fireplace room is a family favourite and gathering place in the winter months; Vanessa attributes her love of antiques to her mother.

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top, which was unusable, with zinc. Zinc is a product that has been used for countertops for centuries and I love its earthy, organic feel and the way it ages.” No renovation is without headaches, but it’s the vision — the dream house that you can see at the end of the tunnel — that motivates when you just want the banging to stop, and you’re tripping over power tools and poring over one too many tap catalogues. In Vanessa’s many years of experience, she’s always found conveying that vision is the hardest part. “It seems that even a photograph can be interpreted in a variety of ways,” she observes. Her advice is to roll with the punches and be flexible, right down to the fittings and fixtures. “Not all original features are practical in a modern house,” she says. “I find working with a complementary look better than trying to match the old exactly. Our kitchen, for example, is a bespoke painted Shaker style, which works nicely in a Queenslander.” Of course, having a builder husband helps! Vanessa has a little studio to indulge her love of painting next to the chicken coop, and Stephen had a barn built in the backyard as a man cave. With custom-made barn doors and a delightful white wooden ladder leading up to a loft, the space ended up being too inviting

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not to share. “We later decided to offer it as accommodation on Airbnb,” Vanessa says. “So instead of a pool table, we put in a queen-size bed and a floral linen-covered antique sofa. “My style is inherited from my mother who, although raised in Bondi Beach, had the country look happening in our family home. My mother and I would often scour local antique shops, and I bought my first antique washstand with her when I was 16. Hunting for, and buying, old furniture has been a passion since then. At the moment I love anything Australian Depression era. I love that they’re handcrafted and often made from other things. They were the original recyclers. I feel that these old pieces have a soul and stories to tell.” After two years of tireless renovation, the Goulmys can now just enjoy their gorgeous home. When pressed on which room is her favourite, Vanessa, understandably, can’t name just one. “I have favourite rooms at different times of the year,” she says. “The fireplace room is a favourite for everyone during winter. The little verandah that we opened up upstairs in the original part of the house is the spot to lie on the daybed and catch a cooling breeze in summer. And my kitchen year-round, as it captures the early morning sunlight.”

Clockwise from above: After two years the renovations were finally complete; contemporary pieces and original features go hand in hand in

Vanessa’s country-style home; every detail of the home’s redesign has been carefully thought through by Vanessa and her builder husband, Stephen.


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HAMPTON HIDEAWAY Jen Ballard is an unabashed Francophile so it’s little wonder her Blue Mountains retreat has a decidedly Gallic accent. -------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography KEN BR ASS


Clockwise from opposite page: Jen fell for the Blue Mountains home years before it was put on the market and sold to her

and husband Geoff; the home has a rich history; Hilroy house was known as Mallara until the 1950s; Jen is quite the Francophile decorator.

26 Australian Country HOMES

ost people yearning for a country life list peace and quiet as a primary objective. For Jen and Geoff Ballard it was precisely the opposite that attracted them to the village of Hampton on the western side of the Blue Mountains. As the owner of motorcycle parts company Ballard’s Off Road and the driving force behind Australia’s most successful Enduro team, Geoff was looking for somewhere he could make as much noise as he liked testing bikes and training for events without disturbing the neighbours. He found what he was looking for at Hampton, a tiny village with a pub and a church and not much more on the road to Jenolan Caves, in 2006. He established a training track and man shed for boy’s own weekend jaunts to the country. And that probably would have been the end of the story if Jen had not accompanied Geoff to Hampton for one of the weekend trips and taken a reccy tour of the district. “I was just pottering around when I climbed up a path not far from the village,” she recalls. “I looked over the fence and saw a wonderfully random garden and loads of daffodils. Then I realised that behind a wisteriaclad verandah there was a delightful historic house. I didn’t want to intrude, so I retraced my steps. The property wasn’t for sale, so I kind of put it out of my mind for a couple of years. But my interest was piqued and as soon as I heard it was on the market I knew I had to go back for a proper look.” Regular readers of Australian Country might recall Jen from a story we ran in the February 2015 issue about the fabulous rustic French provincial home she created out of a former stable with a straw bale extension on Sydney’s western periphery. They will also recall how Jen discovered her passion for all things

HOMES Australian Country 27

Clockwise from opposite: The home in Sydney’s western outskirts that Jen also revamped has a similar rustic feel to Hilroy; Jen draws endless inspiration from years spent in the north of France; a variety of textures adds intrigue; the fireplace is put to good use during the chilly Blue Mountains winter months.

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French when she travelled with Geoff at the beginning of a professional motorcycle racing career that would see him become Australia’s most decorated off-road racer, with an OAM for his services to the industry. “Geoff was unbelievably good,” Jen recalls. “He rode so fast, but he also crashed so many times he could go from first to last three times in a race. So when he decided to go to Europe to pursue his racing career, it was a given that we would go with him.” What followed was an amazing four years of thrills and spills and professional success. Living out of a motorhome on an absolute shoestring, Geoff and Jen and her young daughter based themselves in the north of France and travelled all over Europe on the circuit for the “Olympics of motorcycling”, the International Six-Days Enduro (ISDE). To support themselves between events they teamed up with the French answer to the daredevil Evel Knievel, Jacques Krouto, who ran a stunt show. So with Geoff on a bike, and Jen in the air precariously poised at the top of a ladder attached to the bike, or lying on the ground with her fellow team mates while the bikes jumped over them, they earned sufficient funds for Geoff to represent Australia 26 times and add 12 gold medals and seven silver medals to his CV. France brought an awakening of a different kind, because suddenly Jen had found the aesthetic that she loves and continues to celebrate to the present day. “I just loved the cobblestone streets, the stone houses and walls and the big baskets of geraniums,” she says. “I saw such beauty in marble and cast iron and utilitarian objects that have the patina of age.” Little wonder that when Jen heard that Hilroy, as she discovered the 1847 farmhouse was called, was on the market, she immediately knew it would be a great canvas for her passion for design and decoration. “We looked at it for about two hours,” Jen recalls. “We met the owners, historian Ted and artist Bev Docker, who had created that fabulous haphazard garden and a couple of days later we bought it.”

HOMES Australian Country 29

Clockwise from top: The rambling country home is the perfect canvas for Jen’s decorative whims; the renovations had to consider the lengthy history of Hilroy; wicker and wood complement the bathroom.

30 Australian Country HOMES

Jen looked to the Dockers to fill in the details of the farmhouse’s history and was fascinated to learn that the property had served as the schoolmaster’s residence for many years. “It was also a kind of a boarding house in winter,” she explains. “When there was too much snow in the valley for the children to go home, the schoolmaster and his wife would let them stay in the attic so their education wasn’t interrupted.” Jen also learned that the farm was initially called Mallara, but the name was changed by the Dockers’ predecessors, Hilda and Roy Olsen, who amalgamated their first names to create the moniker when they moved in in 1950s. When Bev and Ted came along in the 1980s, they thought of reverting to the original name, but bureaucracy got in the way, and Hilroy has stuck. Jen adds that she loves the sense of continuity that comes with the house and the stories that are part of its very fabric. She adds that she was mindful of her place in a long history when she approached the renovation and is delighted that Bev has given her efforts her seal of approval. Jen set about giving the farmhouse a facelift with a distinctly French accent. Floor coverings were removed and floorboards polished, bedrooms cleared out, rustic iron light fittings added and shabby painted finishes utilised throughout. Jen then set to work colouring in the details, with soft furnishings, books and big urns of flowers to give the home a light and bright ambience that still acknowledged its long history. Sadly, the Ballards had little time to enjoy the retreat when they moved their business to the Gold Coast. So when Australian Country visited the property was again on the market and Jen was looking forward to the next challenge. “I had visions of lots of lovely girls’ weekends in the mountains and sharing the garden and the produce with family and friends,” Jen says. “However, it was not to be and now I’m on the lookout for another project, possibly in Queensland. Who knows what’s around the corner?” As they say in the serials, watch this space.


Trianon chandelier, $385.10, french bedroom

Peony Bloom teapot, $39.95

Inspired by ...

Habitat Oxley cushion, $29.95,

French provincial style always gets a resounding yes from us. Introduce distressed white, pared-back blues and a touch of vintage to nail this chic trend à la Jen Ballard. ------------

Round chrome kitchen mixer, $280,

compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniéle Bott, $55,

Mews Blue No. 98 paint, from $7.45,

Market basket, $38.50,

↑ ↑

Champi throw, $96.30, frenchbedroom

32 Australian Country HOMES

Pampelune chair in cream, $271.30,


PICTURED 100% Pure Linen Quilt set, colour natural 100% Pure Linen Flat Sheet, white 100% Pure Linen European Pillowcase, white 100% pure natural linen, grown in the Netherlands and woven exclusively for In The Sac. From harvest to bedroom the In The Sac Team carefully plan and control every step of the process with the expertise of 40 years in the Australian Textile Industry. LAID-BACK LUXURY IN BED IN THE SAC, AUSTRALIA

Dreamy interiors and a charming location mean this Daylesford weekender book out months in advance.

34 Australian Country HOMES

Daylesford dreaming Melbourne interior designer and vintage store proprietor Lyn Gardener has waved an elegant yet quirky wand over her weekender in Victoria’s spa country. ----------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography TIM JAMES

HOMES Australian Country 35

36 Australian Country HOMES


ou have been warned. There’s probably nothing in Lyn Gardener’s emporium in Melbourne’s Albert Park that you actually need. However, whether you can live without the unusual decorator and functional pieces, custom-made clothes, hand-crafted jewellery, rustic furniture items and industrial wooden wares she has assembled under the roof of a former suit hospital is another matter entirely. Lyn has that nebulous skill sometimes referred to as “an eye”. In her hands the ordinary becomes extraordinary. She has that fantastic knack of taking an old piece of tat and teaming it with the right accessories to turn a nondescript corner into a talking point. It’s a skill the self-confessed “hoarder” has been honing for most of her life. “My mother’s a total modernist, so I don’t know where my

passion for vintage came from,” Lyn says. “But ever since I was a kid I’ve loved going to markets and fossicking for things.” The opportunity to turn her hobby into a profession came when she landed a job as a stylist for Levi Strauss. She then decided to move on from setting up other people’s stores to setting up her own when she opened Empire Vintage. The chance to stamp her style over her own home came in the mid ’90s when she bought her first warehouse in inner Melbourne and converted it into an edgy, industrial-style residence. A decade later, along came an old mattress factory complete with an asbestos-ridden shed and abandoned cars in the backyard. This is now her modish city home, decorated in her signature amalgam of French and Belgian influences with a touch of the Hamptons.

“The interiors are a blend of the things I’ve been into at various stages,” Lyn explains. “I tend to collect one thing for a while then move on. It might be old mirrors, books or old portraits. At the moment I’m into blackand-white sketches from the ’20s and ’30s. And then when I’ve filled a wall I move on to my next area of interest. It’s pretty broad but it will always be vintage.” Although Lyn says she has “never really finished” working on a house, she snapped up the chance for a completely fresh canvas to work on when an 1850s miner’s cottage in the

Clockwise from opposite page: An enviable collection of Penguin Classics; Lyn has a penchant for pendants; designed as her country escape, a

hectic work schedule means Lyn isn’t able to enjoy her Daylesford home as much as she’d like; antique finds and quirky decor pieces adorn the home.

HOMES Australian Country 37

picturesque spa town of Daylesford, about 110 kilometres north of Melbourne, came onto the property market. “My partner at the time and I loved going there for weekends,” Lyn explains. “The chance to buy our very own weekender close to the centre of town was too good to be true. Hideous though it looked with its ’80s makeover in pine and yellow and blue, the bones were good and we knew immediately that we could make something really special out of it.” A veteran of several bar renovations in the city, Lyn had good contacts in the salvage yards and set to work with a local builder from nearby Castlemaine, sourcing everything from replacement floorboards and antique bathtubs to old doors for the thick wooden shutters in the bedrooms. The bathroom provided a home for an old

38 Australian Country HOMES

French chandelier she had been hoarding for years. She opened the back of the house to create a vast open-plan kitchen, dining and living area and added a third bedroom in a purpose-built extension that nestles into, and looks out on, the garden. Inevitably, the pressures of running a business in the city meant that Lyn couldn’t spend as much time as she liked in Daylesford, so she decided to rent it as a weekender. “I was nervous about doing it at first,” she says. “But people who come to stay here tend to appreciate the style of the house and the ambience of Daylesford. Now I’m in the kind of weird position of having to book months in advance if I want to spend a weekend in my own house.” While Lyn says she is very happy with where her life is now, she adds that she’s always making plans and “on the lookout”

for the next project. “One of my dreams is to build or restore a place as a small event venue somewhere in the near country,” she says. “Perhaps I’ll do another house as well. You never know what’s around the corner and where it might take you. I’m always looking for new challenges and renovating and restoring are certainly challenges. They’re expensive but hugely rewarding as well.” For more information on Empire Vintage and renting the Daylesford house, visit

Clockwise from top left: A purpose-built extension houses the property’s third bedroom, which looks out on the garden greenery; a local builder helped Lyn source

replacement floorboards, antique bathtubs, old doors and everything in between; drawing on timeless French interiors, both bathrooms exude understated elegance.

Image courtesy of Kitchens by Emanuel



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

(02) 9634 7017

Morley Oh So Black pendant light, $122.15, dowsingand

Pear soy candle, $20, thedesignedit. Arts Club No 281 paint, from $7.50,

Inspired by ... Interior designer Lyn Gardener looks to rustic furniture and industrial metal wares to decorate her Daylesford abode. Master this edgy, vintage style in your own home with these key pieces. -----------compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

Oval oak lantern, $35.90,

On the Road by Jack Kerouac, from $22.95,

La Cafetière espresso maker, $43.50,

Jacques table lamp in black, $69.95,

Jersey sheets in cappuccino, prices vary,

Coronet Merino blanket in wheat, $499,

↑ 40 Australian Country HOMES

Chesterfield leather armchair, $1850.15,

DOWN THE GARDEN BATH ... You don’t need to be an exhibitionist to enjoy a skinny dip. Around the world, outdoor bathrooms are becoming a staple of good holiday stays and, if you’re lucky, a good house as well. Nowhere are outdoor bathrooms met with such resounding enthusiasm as our own shores, where a temperate climate, striking natural vistas and bands of talented designers make al fresco bathing all the more appealing. --------------------

Phooto Pho Ph ttog og grap raphy hy Ma Mar M a cu cus us Wa Walte lt rss


42 Australian Country HOMES

Baths with a view From tucked-away tubs in Tasmania’s Bay of Fires to beachy bathing in New South Wales’ Byron Bay, these are the country’s most blissful outdoor bathrooms.

Thalia Haven, Little Swanport, Tasmania One of Tasmania’s most sought-after stays, Thalia Haven enjoys complete seclusion — a necessity for outdoor bathrooms. Spectacular views is another essential that Thalia Haven has in spades. With this in mind, placing a tub on the back deck of the property was a no-brainer for owner Susan West. “Thalia’s solitude, the crash of the waves laid out in front of you, the ever-changing rhythm of the ocean, all seemed to lend themselves to this indulgence,” she explains. Thalia Haven’s outdoor bath looks out across Great Oyster Bay to the granite peaks of the Freycinet Peninsula, and boasts a wood-fired sauna and outdoor shower alongside the tub also. The Bower Barn, Byron Bay, NSW The Bower’s country-style offering, The Bower Barn, has all the trappings of a contemporary cool farmhouse, set in

Clockwise from opposite: Bathing in splendid isolation at Thalia Haven; Bay of Fires Lodge; The Bower Barn.

P to Pho toggrapphy h Mar M cus uss Wa Walte lters lte r rs

Bay of Fires Lodge, Tasmania If ever one deserved a good scrub in the tub, it’s after bush-bashing. This was just the thinking that brought about the Bay of Fires Lodge, an award-winning eco spa designed as a retreat for guests taking on the four-day Bay of Fires Walk. Masterminded by the Tasmanian Walking Company, the team sought to create a restorative retreat with added wow factor that would relieve walkers’ tired muscles. Enter the outdoor bathroom, an open-air wooden pavilion with a freestanding tub surrounded by stunning national park and overlooking the Bay’s crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and orange lichencovered granite boulders. For an additional cost, walkers staying at the Bay of Fires Lodge can submerge with an all-natural bath blend and wave their aches and pains goodbye.

HOMES Australian Country 43

Clockwise from this page: Bucket-list bathing at El Questro Homestead’s Cliffside Retreats; Kinnon & Co Outback Accommodation; Kingsford Homestead.

44 Australian Country HOMES

beautiful Byron Bay. Rustic timber beams and tiled kitchen splashbacks aside, the indoor-outdoor bathroom undoubtedly remains the hero of the space. Crafted from rough-and-ready materials, inside the bathroom’s concrete borders sits a modern bath, toilet and hand basin. Fittings keep the space both simple and luxurious, while a glass roof shields against the elements. “The glass roof means guests can enjoy the natural surroundings and take in the palm trees and sky, while maintaining total privacy,” tells Talia, the owner and director of managing company, Byron Beach Abodes. “We wanted guests to be able to take a bath at night and look at the stars,” she says. El Questro Homestead, Kimberley, WA For those afraid of heights, bathing in the tubs at El Questro Homestead’s Cliffside Retreats may be your idea of hell. For the rest of us, it’s pure heaven. Sitting on the edge of a sheer escarpment overlooking the wild and rugged Kimberley region, Cliffside Retreat's bungalows offer guests uninterrupted views of the Chamberlain Gorge and the chance to bask in a deep Victoria + Albert Napoli freestanding tub, Champagne in hand. Kingsford Homestead, Barossa Valley, SA Dating back to the mid-1800s, Kingsford Homestead gives visitors a look-in on traditional country life, with many of the property’s original features restored to their former glory. Alongside nods to the past, Kingsford Homestead has embraced new traditions as well. Each year visitors from around the country descend on the Barossa Valley property to have a dip in the al fresco claw-foot tub. The ultimate bush bath experience, the tub is set aside in a secluded part of the property and yes, it can fit two. Kinnon & Co’s Outback Accommodation, Longreach, central-western Queensland You can literally soak up the outback ambience, sunset, sunrise or night sky from the clawfooted tubs on the outdoor bath terrace at Kinnon & Co’s Outback Accommodation at Longreach in central-western Queensland. The Kinnon family offers three styles of selfcatering accommodation so visitors can choose between the Homestead Stables, Pioneer Slab Huts and Outback Lodges according to budget and size requirements. HOMES Australian Country 45

Close to home Fancy your own open-air bathroom? Don’t pull the plug on your design dreams just yet; here’s what the experts have to say on creating an idyllic and functional outdoor bathroom. Bathing beauty A striking addition to any outdoor bathroom, follow in the footsteps of the team at Technē Architecture ( and make your bath the ultimate statement by considering form, function and eye-catching positioning. “Placing the bathtub at the centre of the outdoor space draws the eye through the bathroom and to the bright, open courtyard,” Director Justin Northrop says of the team’s Brighton House project. “The form of the tub is charismatic and sculptural without being over the top,” he tells. Built to last For long-lasting luxury, select a bathtub that can go the distance. Luxe by Design’s General Manager Michael Swyny ( recommends sticking with reputable creators. “Victoria + Albert’s unique volcanic limestone baths withstand UV rays and are built to endure outdoor weather conditions in harsh climates,” Michael says. Enamelled iron baths are also a firm favourite for industry experts. Durable enough to withstand the elements, a cast iron bath brings homely charm and character to the great outdoors. Look to leading iron tub resurfacers, Antique Baths (, for the best restorations in the business. Finish the job “Materiality and finishes [in outdoor bathrooms] are important, they need to be resistant to prolonged exposure but still tactile and comfortable to the touch,” advises Kurt Crisp of buck&simple architects ( “We seek out materials that build a patina over time, the weathering tells a story that contributes to the sense of place,” he says.

46 Australian Country HOMES

Enamelled iron baths are durable enough to withstand the elements, and bring homely charm and character to the great outdoors.

Technē Architecture makes the outdoor bath a design feature.

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Visit our website


Traditional restorers of cast iron items in authentic Vitreous enamel Antique baths is the only company in Australia today restoring old cast iron baths and manufacturing using the traditional Vitreous (porcelain) enamel method, which has stood the test of time for over a century. The only company in Australia that can restore Heritage Listed cast iron items. With over twenty seven years in the business, this family run company prides itself on the personalised and friendly service it offers and

on the quality of its product. Clients can choose from a huge selection of baths and basins, some dating back to the 19th Century, including the rare and unusual. Antique Baths have a wide range of clientele, ranging from families with small children that love to have toys while bathing, to celebrities and professional people, from Sydney to Perth, Darwin to Melbourne, and everywhere in between.

Jo and daughter Issy love the laid-back country lifestyle that their Maroochydore home provides.

48 Australian Country HOMES

A patch of paradise Jo Graham spotted the potential of her shack more than two decades ago and ďŹ lled it with her unique brand of serenity and love. ----------------by MERYL HANCOCK, photography ANASTASIA K ARIOFYLLIDIS

HOMES Australian Country 49

50 Australian Country HOMES

“ I

was going to paint a wall today but it’s already three o’clock. Where does the time go?” Jo Graham asks in her faint Devonshire accent. Arriving in Australia as a backpacker more than 20 years ago, her surfboard doubled as a compass needle and guided her to the Sunshine Coast after a slight detour through Darwin. A rural upbringing in an old house in Exeter, England, prefaced Jo’s romance with a Maroochydore timber cottage, which she bought privately from friends at the first opportunity. Built more than 150 years ago as a cane-cutter’s residence, its allure to Jo was beyond belief. On acreage, the former cane fields were now lush paddocks and permitted

glimpses of the river. The original dwelling had been mirrored to create a second cottage constructed largely from recycled elements. “We fell in love with the leadlight windows, the French doors and the pot-bellied stove,” she says. “I admired the way it was impossible to tell that the top section of the house was new.” Nicknamed the Maroochy River Shack, Jo’s daughter, Issy, was a baby when they first moved in. “It needed lots of work as it was

Clockwise from opposite page: Five years away from the property did not diminish Jo’s love for the riverside shack, to which she and daughter Issy have now

returned; the heart of the home; Jo describes her interior style as “eclectic, traditional and country”; the decking creates flow between indoors and out and the two buildings. HOMES Australian Country 51

52 Australian Country HOMES

literally two open spaces,” she recalls. “So we repurposed the rooms by moving the kitchen and the bedrooms around. Now the original cottage is where we sleep and the top cottage is our living and kitchen area.” However, with paradise came the demand of incessant upkeep, and they moved into a rental property for a temporary breather. The natural and organic ethos, with which Jo approached her working life as owner of an Aveda hair salon and spa, was not reflected in her personal life. It was time for a chill pill. Living right on Peregian Beach for five years was the ideal remedy. Its relatively deserted, endless stretch of sand rejuvenated her vigour for a return to the shack.

One of her favourite features is the way the decking linking the two cottages facilitates flow between indoors and out. For Jo, interaction with the acreage is vital. “We’ve got incredibly old mango and macadamia trees, orange and lemon trees, banana palms and a vegie garden,” she says. “The chicken hut will be up and running as soon as we can trim the tree that’s pressing down on the roof.”

Clockwise from right: Mementos from the family’s travels decorate the home; friends love to visit the country cottage; leadlight windows are the stars

of this 150-year-old cottage; Jo sources most of her vintage wares from nearby demolition yards; the bulk of the renovations has been completed by Jo herself. HOMES Australian Country 53

54 Australian Country HOMES

Her decor stems from her self-confessed role as a recycling queen and her respect for heritage. She is clearly a whiz with a paintbrush and does most of the decorating and renovating herself, describing her style as “eclectic, traditional and country”. Others would say humble, soulful and welcoming, a rural retreat of sorts with unintentional Feng Shui at every turn. “We always have lots of girlfriends staying,” she says. “We get the sofa beds and mattresses out, enjoy a home-cooked meal together, sit on the deck and have a beer at sunset. People love coming to our country cottage to visit.” I suspect they also want her contentment and karma to rub off. Close by are a couple of demolition yards where Jo sources fixtures and fittings to

maintain the character of the cottage. She and Issy love to travel and buy “bits and bobs” while they are abroad. For the past few years Jo has been collecting lighting and relays her excitement that the electrician is finally booked for the wiring. Her delight in the simple things, such as finding her daughter sitting in the mango tree on the iPad, is so refreshing. “It’s the perfect blend of living for a 13-year-old,” she says. “I’m a bit of a hippie. My salon, Juhi, is

Clockwise from right: Repurposed furniture shines in the bathroom; spending quiet time in this claw-footed bathtub is the perfect way to end a long day; tropical

accents breathe new life into the former canecutter’s residence; Jo fell for the Maroochydore property 20 years ago, and bought it from friends at first opportunity. HOMES Australian Country 55

chemical-free and I practise and teach a bit of yoga so we have an environmentally sensitive lifestyle and try to be good.” Although it appears remote, the cottage is only seven minutes drive from Yandina, which hosts a fresh produce market every Saturday morning. She says the community is wonderfully supportive and adept at sharing the love. Having just returned from scouring the Parisian flea markets, Jo reveals a yearning to live in France, where her father has resided for the past 15 years. But she can’t deny the depth of her attachment to her patch of paradise on the Maroochy River. It would only be a temporary affair, given what is on, or rather underneath, her doorstep. “Whenever I think I could do with a little sideboard here or

56 Australian Country HOMES

there, I go under the house into what I call my Tardis [referencing the iconic Dr Who],” she says. “It’s hilarious as I’ll usually find what I’m searching for and all it needs is sanding back and painting. I’ve just found some more wood that used to be steps that I’ll use to box around the vegie patch. You need your fingers in a few pies to keep life nice and interesting.”

Clockwise from left: Lush paddocks surround the property; the Sunshine Coast’s warm weather is ideal for dining al fresco; a relaxed hippie feel

permeates the home; while exciting adventures overseas are on the cards, nothing will keep Jo and her daughter, Issy, away from Maroochy River Shack for long.

Wool pom pom string, $22.75,

Twinkler fairy lights, prices vary,

Astrid hanging planter, $29,

Inspired by ... Bohemian vibes rule in this charming riverside cottage. Hanging plants, fairy lights and travel trinkets are must-haves to mirror this chic hippie home. Let the good times roll … ------------

Oak ladder, $189, thedesign

compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

Nantucket wall clock, $245.05,

Quilt in tea rose, $219, cranmore

World map canvas, $271.35,

Old tribal embroideries cushion cover, $45.50, ia

Polka vase in pastel pink, $104.95, Pom pom cotton cushion cover, $19.25,

58 Australian Country HOMES


he wondering gardener. That’s me. Wondering where to start. It’s been 13 years since we bought our farm, and eight years since we moved onto it. When my husband proposed 23 years ago, I asked where he thought he wanted to be in 20 years — mainly to see if he’d thought further than getting married in six months’ time. “Living on a small farm with a wife and a few kids,” he said. That was both vague and specific enough for me. As his long-term goal was a flying job out of Sydney, I imagined an undulating block near Bowral, a modest renovated farmhouse with a squeaky swinging gate and roses. The Sydney job eventuated and transferred us to Melbourne, where we found our designated spot 45 minutes north north-west of the airport in the Macedon Ranges. With Hanging Rock to the east and Mt Macedon to the south, the 95-acre block was flat enough to remind us of home in southern NSW, but interesting enough to be different. They say that unresolved creativity will ambush you and at 45, with two toddlers and a teenager, it seemed like the perfect time to pursue a long-held desire to start writing. One subject at a time, I immersed myself in a diploma of writing and editing and found rich pickings in my past lives as a secretary, nurse and an antiques dealer. But nothing provided as much fodder as toddler-wrangling and setting up home on the farm.

LIVING THE DREAM When writing is a way of laughing at a situation, the journey through life can go a little bit smoother. -------------------by K ATHY MEXTED, photography BY KIM SELBY

60 Australian Country HOMES

The Mexted family couldn't be happier with their farm in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges.

HOMES Australian Country 61

Clockwise from opposite: A country stove enjoys pride of place in the kitchen; a former antiques dealer, Kathy is fond of her knick knacks; age-old kitchen scales double as ornaments; a bright and beautiful teapot; north-facing topped the list of requirements for the new home; the farm looks out to the Macedon Ranges.

62 Australian Country HOMES

The local New Woodend Star published my 300-word anecdotes over nearly three years and, while a serious publishing contract was tossed about earlier this year, I decided to have some fun and publish this collection of mothering, farming, house-building stories. Of the 31 stories in the little book, there is always one that resonates with lovers of life on the land, Ride-on Mowers, because they are the greatest escape. Getting established on the farm has been a dream come true and, having mostly renovated the old cottage, we only had to design and build the house. There wasn’t a huge checklist but it was surprisingly tricky to incorporate them all: north-facing, traditional design, separate living rooms, lots of light and a picture window of Hanging Rock. Perhaps my favourite story is Rooflines, which was written while building. Maybe writing saved my sanity! The story begins: “Here’s how it goes when you’re building. First you take inspiration from Hampton Court Palace, marvelling at the gorgeous peaks and nooks and your own ingenuity at being able to replicate the same, then the men arrive to roll their collective eyes and start banging on about rooflines. Ah, that old chestnut … full credit to the tradesmen who have seen it all before and seem to know when to stick their head in a bucket and trowel on or call in the court jester.” All I can say, ladies, is that before you design your dream home, get somebody to explain “rooflines” to you. It’ll save a whole lot of stress. Then become adept with a ruler and a draftsman’s pencil, step out the rooms and measure the furniture.

HOMES Australian Country 63

Clockwise from top left: Only the beds and the Chesterfields are brand new in this traditional country home; Kathy advises all new homeowners to grasp the renovation lingo early on; a princess-style boudoir; antique pieces are chosen for their personality and enhanced with quirky additions.

64 Australian Country HOMES

My favourite part of the house is definitely the north-facing window seat, built expressly for the purpose of kids to play games, have sleepovers and generally lounge around in. You may find me there on school days too, about 2pm. I measured the width of my body plus a bit, and the length I needed to curl up and sleep. At 800mm deep and 3m long, it is large enough to take two dozing adults, or about a dozen giggling kids. Its deep drawers are stacked with books, craft supplies and toys. My other favourite piece in the house is the antique red gaslight in the entry. During the planning stage, I searched for something similar, only to find three different ruby glass lights at around $1300. When I expressed interest, each of the antique dealers would then shrink and say, “Actually, it’s not for sale.” This one came from eBay and cost $250. There is a story in the book called “I found it at Ferris’s” about how much I loved our local auction rooms. Most of our furniture is second-hand and restored. I’ve never bought anything brand new except the beds and the Chesterfields. Antiques are so cheap these days, hold their value, and have such great personality. We have shared 12 different houses in our 23 years together. It’s the things that you bring to a place that anchor you. I can understand why retirees downsize and shed the shackles, but in the meantime, I enjoy my ‘stuff’, the space and watching the kids ride their bikes and ponies. But the garden. Oh, we must get onto the garden ...

Wildflowers chest of drawers, 190.80,

Sarah’s Garden rectangular lasagne dish, $123.95,

Inspired by ... Understated elegance abounds in this country house. For a similar feel, embrace blue hues, patchwork quilts and statement bedheads — the pony’s optional. -----------compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

Bakelite telephone, $87.50,

Vintage blue flour tin, $26.20, Cotton velvet pillowcase, $19.95,

Alice in Geneva bedhead in glacier velvet, prices vary, heatherlydesign.

Indigo patch Kantha bedspread, $200,

Stir It Up tea tin in white, $8.75,

HOMES Australian Country 65

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Victoria’s central highlands is the perfect setting for Adam’s versatile property.

68 Australian Country HOMES

Ruling the roost Sustainability is at the core of every aspect of Adam Marks’ winery, ciderie, kitchen garden and weekend restaurant. ----------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography KIM SELBY, styling PAUL MALONEY OF FIFTEEN EIGHTEEN

HOMES Australian Country 69

70 Australian Country HOMES


dam Marks credits the army for kick-starting his career. Growing up in bayside Melbourne he knew he loved cooking as soon as he was tall enough to reach the stove. But it was during a high school cadet camp at Puckapunyal that he decided he wanted a career in hospitality. “One of the officers called for volunteers to cook for the platoon and I put my hand up,” Adam recalls. “By the end of the camp I had enjoyed myself so much that I decided I wanted to do it professionally.” While studying hotel management at the William Angliss Institute, he was “waylaid into wine” by a lecturer who was passionate about the subject and alerted him to the availability of a scholarship to the Riverina Institute of Higher Education, now Charles Sturt University, in Wagga Wagga. Always up for a challenge,

Adam applied and was successfully admitted to the wine making and viticulture course. In the middle of second year and armed with all the bullet-proof bravado of youth, Adam spotted an ad posted at the college by an English company calling for Australian winemakers to go to France and cherry pick vineyards for first options on the fruit. “I was way out of my league,” he says. “I was feeling a bit bored at college and I read generous salary, free accommodation and car provided and thought, ‘that’s for me’. Amazingly I got the job. I mean I was 24 and hadn’t even graduated college and I was charged with the responsibility of making more than 10,000 cases of wine. Suffice to say, I learnt a lot in a very short time.” It was the start of a love affair with all things French and a long list of vintages in wine making regions all over France

and Italy. “After that first experience in Bordeaux, I moved around to build on my experience,” Adam says. “On leave from various winemaking jobs in Australia, I’ve done vintages in Burgundy, Beaujolais, Côtes de Rhône and Chablis.” It was during a vintage in Beaujolais that he became aware of France’s fabled chickens from Bourg-en-Bresse. The white-feathered, bluelegged, red-combed free-range Bresse chicken waves the Tricoleur as the country’s finest table poultry. Every aspect of its production, from where and how it’s farmed to its diet is

Clockwise from opposite page: After cooking at a high school cadet camp, Adam decided on a career in hospitality; a winemaking trip to

France at 24 sparked Adam’s love of French food, wine and interiors; sustainable practices are championed at Bress; the semi-formal sitting room is calm and relaxing.

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prescribed by an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée), the European standard for protected designation of origin. Roll forward to 2001 when Adam decided to leave corporate winemaking and start a venture of his own; he need not have looked any further than the ethos behind Bresse chickens — artisan production using traditional methods — for inspiration for his business. Sustainability is at the core of every aspect of his operation, from the biodynamic principles he follows on farm to a passion for waste minimisation and a dedication to using only local, seasonal produce. Adam established Bress vineyard, ciderie and produce farm on a run-down vineyard and orchard at Harcourt south of Bendigo in Victoria’s central highlands. More recently he has added the weekends-only Bresstaurant, which runs from the beginning of February to the end of May and then September through

to Christmas. It’s a convenient schedule that allows for regular trips back to France for vintage during the northern summer, and a bit of time in the southern summer to regroup and assess new projects. “The property was an abomination when we bought it,” he recalls. “Thirty four acres [14 hectares] planted to 17 different grape varieties. But now we’ve trimmed it down to 16 acres [6.5 hectares] and just four varieties, Riesling, Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc and Shiraz. We also buy fruit from other notable Victorian regions — Bendigo, Heathcote, Macedon and the Yarra Valley.” The Bress orchard also had lots of old cider apple varieties including Stokes Red, Improved Foxwhelp, Dabinett, Michelin, Somerset Redstreak, Bulmer’s Norman and Kingston Black. Never one to do anything by halves, and abetted by wine writer Max Allen, Adam

embarked on a tasting tour of the world’s finest ciders before settling on his preferred style. “We kept coming back to the French ciders made in Brittany and Normandy,” he says. “So that’s the direction we headed in.” The self-confessed “control freak” adds that while he has a hand in most aspects of the operation from winemaking to whatever’s the latest project in the garden, he does send out the base wine for sparking and cider for bottle fermentation. “It’s a labour-intensive process and I do it to ensure consistency,” he says. “Quality control is at the heart of everything we do at Bress. That’s not to say eating well, Left to right: The home looks out onto Adam’s surrounding acreage which consists of a vineyard, kitchen garden and ciderie, and

even houses a weekendsonly restaurant; the property needed work when Adam first came on the scene, but is now positively charming.

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having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously aren’t also important.” While Adam’s brand doffs a cap at Bresse chickens, he dropped the “e”, because he says it was unpronounceable for Australians. Although he had to fight a lengthy legal battle with the French for the right to use even the truncated word, the connection to the chicken is obvious from the labels on the bottles to the chickens in the Henndorf and the brand scorched on the wooden platters on which osteria-style meals are served in the Bresstaurant, which can seat up to 100 guests. With a spit roast and wood-fired oven at its heart, Bress’s hospitality relies on a fixed menu and local produce, simply prepared with respect for flavour. As much as possible is sourced from the property itself. The chooks provide eggs, honey comes from the hives, fruit from the orchard and herbs, vegies and salad leaves from either the kitchen garden or the self-watering wicking beds in the three hot houses on the farm. The bread, olives, pickles and preserves are all made in-house and Adam sings the praises of smallgoods made by charcutier Michael Nunn of Ballarat’s Salt Kitchen. A recent lunch began with bread,

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EVOO and balsamic reduction and progressed through chicken roasted in the wood-fired oven with fabulous local spuds, grilled vegies and the house salad with a fabulous assortment of just-picked leaves. Bress wines, a three-year aged Parmigiano with crostini and tasting of local cherries rounded off a fabulous spread. The wheel has turned the full circle with Adam’s French connections as he now has a joint venture with a family in Chablis. As well as making wine from a block in their vineyard, he also hosts visiting winemakers, vignerons and cellar hands at Bress. “It’s a wonderful exchange,” he says. “I know from my own experience that you learn so much from living and working abroad and I’m not just talking about language skills. It’s a wonderful thing to see life and work through the eyes of another culture.” In his “spare” time, Adam always has an eye out for another project. “I love a new challenge,” he says. “I always want to improve the way we do things. I’d like to do more work in France. At the moment vinegar excites me. There’s not too much quality vinegar being made in Australia. Watch this space.”

Clockwise from top: A beautiful freestanding bathtub makes a statement in the home’s rustic, French-style powder room; scarlet

red cushions, furniture and walls add a rich, sumptuous feel to the interiors, while floral motifs solidify the connection to nature.

THE SHOP THAT TIME FORGOT Imagine... You’ve just walked through the doors of a department store... the year is 1925, what would you expect to see?

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Inspired by ... Classic French style is the cornerstone of this versatile property. Add shades of scarlet to complete the look. -----------compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

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76 Australian Country HOMES

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IN HER ELEMENT Earth, water, air and fire inspire Sunshine Coast designer Lisa Day to create jewellery and homewares with a natural aesthetic. --------------------



f, as IT entrepreneur and Apple founder Steve Jobs maintained, the only way to do great work is to love what you do, designer Lisa Day has it nailed. Every piece she creates is made to her own specifications, to suit her personal style and whatever natural, organic components take her fancy on the day. She says she’s just lucky that her loyal band of customers and Almost_Indigo Instagram followers happen to share her taste. She pretty much sells all her creations, from jewellery and display cabinets to wall art, planters, stools and chests of drawers, as soon as they are completed. “I just do what I like,” she says of her somewhat unorthodox business model. “Initially I didn’t set out to make money. I just made my own jewellery and people liked what I did and asked me to do something similar for them. It just grew from there.” Encouraged by the positive response, Lisa started selling at markets on the Sunshine Coast, where she and her furniture designer husband, Edward, and their teenaged children have lived since migrating from England 15 years ago. The move was a giant leap of faith, largely driven by the weather, Lisa explains. “We came from Leicestershire in the English Midlands,” she says. “I was a teacher in a very tough school in the middle of a housing estate. I’d been to Australia as my sister lived there and just fell in love with the climate, the fresh air and space. I love the sea, so when we decided to move, it was natural that we’d head for the sun and the coast. The Sunshine Coast was a logical starting point, and we’ve settled here very happily.” Lisa had taught arts and crafts in adult education in the UK so, while the children were babies, she started out making jewellery and decorator items that expressed her love of

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White walls let Lisa’s rustic decor pieces steal the show.

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Clockwise from opposite: Pineapples double as playful decor; concrete is one of Lisa’s favourite materials; Lisa weaves foraged feathers, shells and seed pods into her designs; an old ladder is as good as new after a lick of paint; Lisa and her family emigrated from the UK 15 years ago and haven’t looked back since.

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the land and the sea. Success at Sunny Coast Markets prompted her to open a shop, which she ran very successfully for five years at Coolum Beach. “Once again I just sold things I like and either made myself or Edward made to my designs,” she says. “We use a lot of recycled materials such as old windows from salvage yards and repurposed furniture we pick up at garage sales or on eBay. As people got to know my shop they’d come to me with first option on deceased estates and house contents sales. If we do use new materials such as feathers or shells, we try to make sure they are ethically and sustainably sourced.” Lisa’s brand struck a chord with Sunshine Coast locals and tourists, who appreciate her love of nature and the way she weaves feathers, cuttlefish shells, seed pods and other elements foraged from the beach or the bush into her work. “There’s a strong respect for creativity up here,” she says. “My daughter is lucky to attend a Steiner school where the children learn to knit and crochet and grow their own food. Doing what you love is second nature to them, and that’s a philosophy I fully understand.” Lisa adds that she’s been lucky to have Edward by her side helping to realise her designs. “He has a keen eye for the bottom line and will keep something simple so we can keep the price tag realistic,” she says. “He’s the reason I’ve been able to keep up with the demand for things such as display cabinets and storage boxes made from recycled timber, shelving from old ladders as well as coffee tables, stools and other items

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Clockwise from top left: The house is an ideal testing board for the couple’s designs; the family has embraced Australian life; locals love the one-of-a-kind pieces; the minimalist home has been carefully curated.

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from concrete.” Gradually though, demand for Lisa and Edward’s handicrafts started to exceed their waking hours, so two years ago she reluctantly decided to sell the shop and concentrate on the wholesale side of the business full-time. “I just needed a break,” she says. “But just lately I’ve realised I miss the interaction with our customers and I’ve started doing a few markets again. I’ve now reached the point where I would consider opening another shop if the right location came along. My sensibilities are very rustic, so I’d be looking for a location in a hinterland town … maybe somewhere like Eumundi or Doonan.” At home near the beach at Peregian, Lisa and Edward give full rein to their minimalist country instincts, with shelving units and storage boxes starring alongside upcycled furniture, wall necklaces and planters. “Our home is a long-term rental from an owner who lives overseas,” Lisa explains. “We’re lucky that she painted everything white, which pretty much gave us a blank canvas to colour in the details. I like the fact that we can chop and change pieces with the seasons or if I come up with a new design, I can test drive it at home. Edward, who also works in disability services, often comes home and works on new designs, so our home is a bit of a showcase of our design story, past and present. To see more of Lisa’s work go to her Instagram page, Almost_Indigo.


Est. 1962

JOHN W THOMPSON & SON Suite 1, Level 4, The Dymocks Building, 428 George Street, Sydney 2000 Tel (02) 9233 3520 Fax (02) 9233 6105 Email Website

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All things natural take centre stage in Lisa Day’s Sunshine Coast pad. Let the raw materials shine with an all-white backdrop to recreate this calm and cool look. ----------------compiled compile ed by GR RIFFIN ALICE GRIFFIN

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84 Australian Country HOMES OMES

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86 Australian Country HOMES

Light fantastic A passion for photography and a penchant for the past inform designer Aldona Kmieć’s interior style. ----------------by SUE PEACOCK, photography KIM SELBY

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ldona Kmieć left Poland in 2004 when the country joined the European Union and doors were flung open to the West. A decade on, she finds herself living and working in Ballarat where her photographs, particularly her portraits of fellow migrants, have drawn attention to the city’s rich multicultural fabric. She has also found time to renovate a large 1875 cottage in the historic inner city suburb of Soldiers Hill. Step inside Aldona’s double-fronted Victorian cottage and it is the light that you notice. From the soft, delicate and sophisticated lightshades to the natural light spilling into the hallway, light plays a subtle yet central motif in this home. Given Aldona’s northern European origins and her work as a photographer, it makes sense. She works from home, and follows the light around the

88 Australian Country HOMES

house throughout the day. “I do have a bit of a fetish for lights and lamps,” she says. “I am not allowed to buy any more.” Skilled at languages, Aldona worked in hospitality and studied photography in London before following her heart to Australia. An “adventurous conversation” with a family member led her to Ballarat in September 2010, after stints living on the Gold Coast and a short mid-winter stay in Melbourne. Twelve months later she bought the dilapidated cottage near the centre of town and set about restoring it. “Ballarat was grey, rainy and cold but I loved the old buildings, the architecture and the climate was European,” she says. “After so many years of living out of suitcases and travelling I was looking for a base I could work from and also a sense of community.” The cottage was in a bad state. First up was a new front fence and Aldona threw herself

into creating a garden. “I cannot imagine living without one,” explains the daughter of politically active farmers who grew up surrounded by potatoes, wheat and dairy cows. “The soil was full of rubbish so I dug it all out and put new topsoil in, built brick pathways and planted things,” she says. “I found lots of old bottles and two beautiful horseshoes there. For me it was like a smaller scale of what we did on the farm. It was hard work but I had just moved here and bought a house and I didn’t know many people so it was exciting in a way, I also loved the physical labour.”

Clockwise from opposite page: Shot by Aldona while holidaying in Spain, a photograph was blown up from floor to ceiling to adorn the wall in

the living room; red accents run throughout the home; cute kitchen accoutrements; white paint lifts the interiors while black and white tiles give a country feel.

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The results are impressive, with the backyard now a fertile and productive food garden filled with herbs, companion plants and seasonal vegetables. On the back fence, an 85 year-old apple tree, which has long escaped the pruner’s tools, drops an abundant harvest in autumn. Inside, walls were removed, the whole place was restumped and rewired and floorboards were replaced. The fireplace in the living room was also rebuilt and fresh white paint helped transform the interior. An oversized floor-to-ceiling photograph — a scene shot by Aldona while on holiday in Majorca, Spain — graces one living room wall. “On a sunny day this is a very bright space so I came up with the idea of blowing up a photo,” she says. “I wanted something in black and white and I love how the light is filtered in this scene — I just couldn’t believe how well it came out.” Nostalgic reminders of her Polish heritage, Russian propaganda posters sourced on eBay, line the entrance to the hallway. “They are

90 Australian Country HOMES

very colourful and eclectic and they are part of my childhood in a way,” she says. “Russian as our second language was mandatory.” The home is filled with salvaged and secondhand pieces including armchairs found at the Daylesford Mill Markets and a kitchen table repurposed from a car mechanic. A humble pallet has been stained and given wheels to form a coffee table. “I’m not much of a buyer of new things, unless it’s necessary,” she says. “Old pieces have much greater stories and atmosphere about them. I also love evocative photographs and have bought old photos at various auctions and have my friends’ and my photographic artworks on the walls.” And then there are the lights. A replica of a Crimean Pinecone lampshade by Russian designer Pavel Eekra is made from 56 pieces of bamboo. Others come from NM Quality Seconds on Smith Street, Collingwood, where an eastern European lamp maker turns items such as old telescopes into interesting lights. For Aldona, researching the history of her

house has been an important part of what is an ongoing renovation project. Three years ago the house next door — built by the same builder — burned down. “It was a really horrible experience for everyone involved,” she says. “You buy a house and put so much work into it and then something like this happens and you realise how close you have come to losing it all. Luckily no one was badly hurt and I actually heard a lot of stories about my house from people who came to help. One lady told me there was an Italian guy living here in the 1920s who used to sing opera in the backyard on Sundays and shoot the pigeons.”

Clockwise from left: Fifty six pieces of bamboo create the striking lampshade in the bedroom; from the light-filled rooms to the

bountiful garden, Aldona loves her charming 1875 cottage; the lives of past owners have been recalled through many stories shared by locals.


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We’ve fallen head over heels for Aldona Kmieć’s charming home. Follow in her footsteps and keep things light and bright with vintageinspired accessories and pops of colour. -----------compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

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92 Australian Country HOMES

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THE HANDMADE TABLE The wheel has turned a full circle for Queensland ceramicist Shannon Garson, who now finds herself living very happily in the country town she once couldn’t wait to leave. --------------------


94 Australian Country HOMES


s Shannon Garson recalls her teenage years growing up in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, she couldn’t wait to get out of town. The big wide world beckoned and her hometown of Maleny didn’t see her heels for dust as soon as she graduated high school. “I went to art college in Brisbane and then travelled and worked overseas for a few years,” she recalls. “I’d been lucky enough to work for Brisbane ceramicist Clairy Laurence when I was at college. She let me come and decorate her work pretty much as I liked and I now realise how incredibly generous that was. She pretty much changed my life by showing me that a creative life could be a career. I saw a lot of artworks while I was overseas and whenever I could I painted and made pottery.” Returning to Australia in the late ’90s Shannon was pleasantly surprised when she revisited Maleny. “Of course it was always geographically beautiful,” she says. “But for the first time I actually appreciated the village itself. I looked around and thought it’s got a library and a bookshop and lots of creative energy, what more do I need?” Shannon set up her shingle as a ceramic artist specialising in handmade porcelain vessels. “I’ve always been a keen cook so tableware was a natural direction for me,” she says. “I was inspired by the beautiful 19thcentury English pottery tradition that reflects local flora and fauna. So I make plates, cups and bowls inspired by the natural environment and decorated with repeatable designs for my daily range. I also produce one-off exhibition pieces.

Clockwise from opposite page: The charming weatherboard property has been decorated with vintage finds; the

hinterland home has a peaceful leafy outlook; after years abroad, Shannon is happy to call the town of Maleny home once again. HOMES Australian Country 95

96 Australian Country HOMES

They are all functional pieces, even though people might not choose to actually drink or eat from the exhibition work.” These days Shannon and her husband, jazz musician and cheesemaker Trevor Hart, both work from the back of their charming weatherboard home. Trevor has created a beacon on Queensland’s culinary map with the cheeses he makes from local buffalo milk and his cheeserie happily turns out haloumi, mozzarella and bocconcini while Shannon is busy in her studio creating hand-thrown vessels. “Ironically I used to admire the house as a youngster,” she says. “I used to walk past it on my way to Brownies and I always fancied it. Of course I never dreamed that one day I would be working and living there with our two girls.” Internally Shannon and Trevor have given the cottage a cool retro makeover, with Shannon’s signature restraint as the guiding force. Furniture has been salvaged and gifted from friends’ and relatives’ clearouts and Shannon’s ceramics blend seamlessly into this laid-back setting. “It’s a bit of a patchwork,” Shannon says. “While we both like vintage pieces we didn’t want it to become too busy so there is a bit of less is more vibe happening. We wanted the colours to be soft but bright so Trevor mixed them himself. We settled on blue and green in the main rooms, because that seemed to reflect the forest and sky that surrounds us.” Shannon adds that the girls are extremely lucky to attend the River School, which has

Clockwise from opposite page: Shannon and her husband, Trevor, gave the cottage a cool retro makeover; cooking is

a rewarding pastime for the pair; Shannon produces beautiful handmade porcelain vessels; Shannon and Trevor work from home. HOMES Australian Country 97

a creek running through its 25-acre campus and a neo-humanist ethos that encourages compassion for all living creatures. “They have a vegie garden and an orchard and lots of room for creative play,” she says. “In many ways the school embodies all that is great about living in Maleny.” Concerned at the disconnect between art and everyday life, Shannon recently came up with the concept of the Handmade Table. “It occurred to me that many people don’t get to see how art is made,” she says. “I wanted to share the excitement and exhilaration of seeing a work of art come together. At the same time I wanted to show the way you can take something as mundane as a ball of clay and elevate it to something sublime by making a beautiful plate that we then share food from.” So Shannon held her first pop-up event, with guests watching her create pieces from the potting wheel right through to decorating, firing and glazing. She invited some muso mates to add to the program and cooked up a storm using her favourite recipes to share a meal around the communal table. “It’s all about the joy of creation,” she says. “People really connect through the sharing of food and music and the tableware I create during the event. I’m hoping I can extend the concept a bit further, maybe take it to food festivals or cultural promotions. It really is sharing a slice of magic when everyone gets involved in a creative collaboration.”

Clockwise from top: A sunny country-style bathroom is fitting for the family of four; each corner of the home reflects the personality

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of its inhabitants; a blue and green colour palette was chosen for the main rooms to reflect the colours of the local forest and sky.

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Inspired by ... Beautifully simple ceramics take pride of place in Shannon Garson’s cottage, complemented by green hues, characterful antiques and comfy floral sofas. Find all the essentials for a quirky country home here. ------------

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100 Australian Country HOMES

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Rachael’s retreat Interior designer and stylist Rachael Leslie has redefined the art of creatively inspired clutter in her Daylesford home and guest house. ----------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography KEN BR ASS

102 Australian Country HOMES

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A Clockwise from opposite page: The home is filled with antiques and well-worn furniture; meaning “loafing” or “idleness”

in Bohemian language, Zahalka was a fitting name for Rachael’s laid-back abode; a playful piano set-up; quirky kitchen essentials.

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rose by any other name would smell as sweet according to Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet, but for interior designer and stylist Rachael Leslie, finding an appropriate moniker for her house in the Victorian spa town of Daylesford was of ultimate importance. As a long-time musician and inveterate traveller, Rachael knew the importance of a catchy title to ensure the success of a business. Although she initially had no intention of opening her home to paying visitors, she did feel strongly that a “good fit” was essential when it came to naming the property. So it seemed a stroke of serendipity when in 2008, about the same time as Rachael was establishing her Daylesford property, she heard about the work of celebrated Sydney photomedia artist Anne Zahalka through a friend who was helping her style the house.

Rachel subsequently visited one of Anne’s exhibitions and was totally captivated by the artist’s hauntingly evocative work. Further enquiry revealed that “Zahalka” translates as “loafing” or “idleness” in Bohemian language, a perfect fit for the kind of retreat Rachael was in the process of creating. With the permission of the artist, whom she met at a private viewing, she named the property, Zahalka House. A long-time resident of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, Rachael was well accustomed to accommodating fellow musicians, artists and travellers in her St Kilda home. She expected to continue the tradition when she bought the bare block of land on Daylesford’s outskirts where Zahalka House now stands. Aiming to create a nurturing environment for family and friends to gather at weekends and on holidays, she bought a weatherboard cottage from the outer Melbourne suburb of Officer and

HOMES Australian Country 105

Clockwise from opposite page: The mid-century modern cabinet finds an unlikely home in the bathroom; souvenirs tell stories

from Rachael’s travels; the weatherboard cottage was transported from Melbourne’s suburbs and placed on the block at Daylesford.

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transported it to the site. She then set about extending the back using loads of recycled and reclaimed materials sourced through a friend who runs the Big Shed, a secondhand dealership in Castlemaine. From there it was a matter of Rachael weaving the magic she employs on film sets and photo shoots, combining old and preloved furnishings and fabrics with souvenirs from her extensive travels, art and cookery books, music and instruments … all the elements of a rich and creative lifestyle. “I’m extremely sensitive to my surroundings and I like everything to be just right,” she says. “I wanted to create a home that was warm and inviting and offered the sense of magic that you experience when you’re in a culturally aware environment. I wanted to make the kind of pad you retreat

to when creative block sets in and you need an oasis that provides New Yorker mags for distraction and lots of books for inspiration.” Rachael admits she is fascinated with the character of old things and likes nothing more than styling up a room. It’s a trait she has passed on to her 21-year-old daughter Nadjieja, who works in events management and eight-year-old Rider, who loves to draw, paint and pursue creative projects. Much of the linen in the house comes from France, sourced through an English dealer who specialises in linen and silk bedding. Art works line the walls and mementos from friends and visitors adorn every surface in apparently casual collaborations that in fact are carefully composed vignettes. “I always intended to divide my time between Daylesford and Melbourne,” Rachael

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Clockwise from top: The bedroom fits the brief of homely yet stylish; an English dealer sourced the beautiful French linen

that is found in the chic bedrooms; Rachael sought to create a home that would help to diminish visitors’ creative blocks and life stresses.

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explains. “So it seemed logical to share it with paying guests when I couldn’t be around. At the same time I wanted to maintain the lived-in feeling, so all my personal items such as jewellery and books stay in the house, even when others are staying there. I find people are really respectful of this approach and so far nothing has been damaged.” The connection between Anne Zahalka and the house was deepened when the artist spent a weekend at the property, enjoying the region’s many attractions which include day spas, bookshops and art galleries, crisp walks in the Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens and hiring row boats on the town’s lake. As the owner of Australia Street Guest House, a bed and breakfast in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, Anne recognised good style and functionality when she arrived at Rachael’s

retreat. Anne and Rachael are now linked in more ways than just a name and a friendship based on good times and art continues to bloom. Rachael has worked with Anne on her latest short films and a print entitled Deer Hunter, a gift from the artist now has pride of place in Rachael’s bedroom. “I set out to create the kind of space I like to live in and it turns out it appeals to lots of my guests as well,” Rachael explains. “I’ve received a number of commissions for interior design work from former guests. There’s a lived-in feeling, but with a sense of style and balance. At the end of the day it’s my home. And I think that it’s that sense of home that makes everybody who comes here enjoy the slowburn approach to relaxing and recharging. And that’s what’s hospitality should be all about.” To find out more, visit



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RIVERSIDE REVIVAL Jane and Neil Mackenzie have traded hectic corporate lives for a bucolic existence on the NSW mid-north coast. -------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography KEN BR ASS

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HOMES Australian Country 113


he deal was done in a hotel room in the middle of a sweltering Sydney summer, with a real estate website on the laptop and a map of NSW on the bed. London residents Jane and Neil Mackenzie were on one of their regular trips back to Australia, so in the heat of the day they decided to take the plunge and make the visit a permanent one. “We knew we wanted to do something in hospitality, so it just made sense to be within weekend commuting distance of Sydney,” Jane explains. ”We worked out what we could afford by selling our home in London. There were a couple of non-negotiables: I wanted a swimming pool and air conditioning and Neil wanted a Wolf cooker.” Cooma-born-and-raised Neil had spent the best part of two decades in the UK working as a chef. He first went to London as a backpacker, completed training as Leith’s School of Cookery and Wine and then worked for Yottam Ottolenghi and Fishworks before starting out on his own with a catering company Lovefood, which specialised in catering for crews on advertising photoshoots. Buckinghamshire girl Jane drove a desk, working her way up from marketing jobs in retail to a position as head of marketing for retail giant Marks & Spencer. “For the final 10 years I ran the design studio,” Jane explains. “With 84 staff it is one of the biggest design studios in Europe. We were responsible for all brand design … everything from packaging, decor and windows to catalogues, brochures and magazines. The upshot of it was that we were both working 12-hour days and whatever hours we spent together we were totally exhausted.” Inevitably, the couple reached the conclusion that there must be a way of finding better

work-life balance. The move to Australia, followed shortly after by their Parson Jack Russell pooches, Doug and Bob, was the first step. Finding the perfect property on which to run bed and breakfast accommodation took a bit longer than the initial foray in Sydney, but eventually they found what they were looking in Mansfield on the Manning, three-and-a-half hours north of Sydney near Taree on the midnorth coast. The 16-acre (6.5-hectare) property is spectacularly located on the banks of the Manning River and included a homestead and two guest cottages, which had been built according to environmentally sensitive standards in 2002. The previous owners had

Clockwise from opposite: A well-equipped kitchen remains a non-negotiable for chef Neil; the couple’s country existence is worlds away from their former London life; playful accents add flair in the living space. .

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HOMES Australian Country 115

commenced a bush regeneration program by planting more than 4000 native trees, so when Jane and Neil took over they inherited a good starting point on which to build their dreams. In the years since they took up residence they’ve completed a massive pruning and manicuring program and updated the homestead by retaining its footprint, but adding a huge deck and the deal-breaking infinity swimming pool. Internally, floorboards and windows have been replaced and refurbished and the mandated air conditioning and stateof-the-art cooker have been installed. Jane has lent her considerable design flair to decorating the interiors with a mix of antique and contemporary furniture and accessories from antique shops, design boutiques and markets in England, France and Australia. She’s also given the two cottages complete makeovers so guests can enjoy that magnificent view from superbly appointed accommodation. As well they’ve madeover a 1978 Airstream caravan in funky ’70s style, complete with ensuite bathroom and a fully equipped kitchen. Jane and Neil also took over the bones of an orchard with an avenue of mandarin and pecan trees and a few other citrus, and gardener Joel Betts has devoted considerable time and energy into fleshing it out with every conceivable fruit tree and vine. Alongside stonefruit, pears, apples, figs and pomegranates, there are more citrus, blood orange, kaffir lime and grapefruit and tropical treats such as guava, banana and custard apples. The team has also developed an amazing kitchen garden planted to everything from tomatoes and basil to cabbages and kale. “While we’re very serious about growing the best possible produce, using the most environmentally friendly methods, our approach has been a bit of a game of chance,” Neil explains. “We’ve kind of chucked

everything in with lots of mulch and compost and now we’re just waiting to see what thrives and what doesn’t.” They’ve also added 16 Isa Brown hen into the mix, and so far “the girls” are living up to their reputation as the super duper egg layers of the poultry world. The Mackenzies’ guests are encouraged to help themselves to this home-grown bounty. Like the true foodies they are, they’ve equipped the cottage kitchens with the kind of utensils someone serious about making the most of the local produce needs to indulge in some good kitchen therapy. It’s an uncommon delight to find cake tins and roasting pans, a cast-iron casserole and decent cook’s knives

Clockwise from opposite: The suspended fireplace makes a bold statement in the living area; the free-standing bathtub is a favourite feature; vintage butler’s trays find a new home and role in the bathroom.

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HOMES Australian Country 117

alongside a starter kit of basics including quality balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, local honey, butter, and a loaf of homemade bread wrapped in a tea towel. The cafe society will be happy too as there are Nespresso machines as well as plungers and proper teapots along with T2 treats. And tucked away in a cute biccy tin, a welcome gift of shortbread, made to Neil’s grandma’s recipe and deemed worthy of first prize by CWA baking mavens at the Wingham Scottish fair. The cookfest will have to wait for another visit, however, as on this occasion Jane and Neil are hosting a lunch to showcase the region’s finest ingredients. Their menu includes soft-ripened cheeses from Comboyne Culture, wines from Red Tail and a giant standing roast beef from Manning Valley Wagyu Beef. Neighbours and fellow refugees from the rat race Ian Rowland and Stella Savvas brought along their Stellar biodynamic garlic, which Neil used in a caramelised garlic tart and the herbs, leaves and pumpkin for the salads came from the garden, which also supplied macadamias and passionfruit for the cheesecake for dessert. The proof, as they say, is in the eating and the meal is indeed a wonderful tribute to these dedicated farmers and the Mackenzies’ local, seasonal ethic. Neil has plans to build a commercial kitchen in one of the sheds on the property and convert a barbecue shelter into a small restaurant catering for house guests and a few locals. Jane has visions of afternoon teas in the kitchen garden, and the plans for the future include expanding their accommodation options with yurts and maybe permanently erected bell tents. “I’ve dreamt of running my own

accommodation since I was a youngster,” Jane explains. “When I was still at school I saved my dinner money and booked myself into a hotel in the small town near my home. Unfortunately, being a small town it didn’t take long for the news to reach my parents who pulled the plug on my first solo vacation. But now I’m getting to live my dream and it’s turning out way better than I dared to hope for. Our neighbours have been helpful and welcoming and our guests have been generous in their praise, and kind enough to book return visits. We have lots of plans for the future, but for now it’s still a bit like being on holiday, except it’s in our own home.”

Clockwise from right: Antique finds from France, England and Australia give the home its signature country style; the couple’s Parson Jack Russell pooches made the trip down under shortly after their owners.

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Airfusion Akmani fan, $695, beacon

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Inspired by ... The perfect mix of old and new takes style cues from this striking riverside property, where playful odes to furry friends are more than welcome. ------------

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compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

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120 Australian Country HOMES

Flower power As befits the founder of a bouquet-based charity, Shannon Yeardley’s home in the Brisbane hinterland is filled with, and surrounded by, flowers. -----------------

by PAULA BRIDGES, photography JOHN DOWNS, styling TAHN SCOON


he beautiful bouquets of flowers that sit on the tabletops, benches and mantelpiece in Shannon and Steve Yeardley’s home provide a magnificent sense of tranquillity, happiness and warmth. Shannon’s appreciation for the impact of flowers is ever growing and, as founder and managing director of charity The Flower Project, she is able to share this appreciation with members of the community who most deserve the pick-meup that a beautiful bouquet can provide. Shannon’s love affair with flowers is visible from the driveway of their Cedar Creek home;

Clockwise from top: Shannon’s Cedar Creek home is surrounded by gardens which are filled with roses, camellias,

magnolias, tropical heliconias and other blooms; the surrounding four acres of rainforest remain untouched.

a home surrounded by gardens that feature roses, tropical heliconias, camellias and magnolias, and a vast array of other plant life. Though not traditionally an area for cottage gardens — Cedar Creek is largely made up of rainforest and national park — Shannon and Steve have embraced their abundance of land and created their own semi-rural sanctuary. Building a traditional Queenslander-style home in 2007 on just one of their five acres, the Yeardleys were keen to maintain the lush greenery of the property and therefore decided to keep the remaining four-acre surrounds in their natural state of rainforest. “The rest of our property is rainforest with lovely bushwalks running through it,” Shannon says. “The house is built to make the most of the natural surrounds and we just love the outlook.”

A Garth Chapman home, the Queenslander -style design was the perfect choice for Shannon and Steve, who wanted to balance their love of the iconic architectural style with modern functionality for their busy family. Shannon and Steve live here with their twin children, Maddie and Connor, as well as a chocolate-coloured Labrador called Bailey, two cats and a guinea pig. “We chose the style of an old Queenslander because we really liked the aesthetic,” Shannon says. “But to build new meant that we could have that wonderful combination of vintage and modern country.” True to Shannon’s vision, their home maintains this great combination of new and old, with a mix of vintage furniture and fittings throughout. A large kitchen made by Farmers and living room provide a bright, open space for everyday family life. Here more modern HOMES Australian Country 121

Clockwise from left: The warm formal sitting room is the ideal place to while away a winter evening; Shannon started the charity, The Flower Project, in

furniture pieces are complemented by older furniture finds that have been lovingly restored by Shannon’s parents and dressed with an array of well-considered soft furnishings. “Ever since The Flower Project, I am much more appreciative of the effect of colour,” Shannon says. “While I love the tranquillity of neutrals and plain linens, I really love the vibrancy of colour and try to use it more and more.” Adjacent to the casual living areas is a formal lounge, which includes a working fireplace. “Steve is English,” Shannon explains. “So it was nice to create a traditional sitting room that was cosy. It gets quite cold here, so it’s nice to have somewhere to snuggle.” The warmth of this room is enhanced by a burgundy and cream colour palette. Shannon chose a combination of Taubmans’ Blushingham paint and exquisite wallpaper for the walls and sourced cream furniture and a Laura Ashley footstool to match.

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The living areas, as well as each of the four bedrooms, bathroom and study, look out onto the home’s expansive verandah and, consequently, the beautiful natural outlook just beyond its railing. “It’s actually so close to nature that sometimes we can have a bath while a kookaburra watches through the window,” Shannon laughs. Her favourite spot is on the verandah at the front of the house, where they regularly enjoy breakfast. “It’s like having our own retreat,” she says. “I love the tranquillity, the bird noises, the beautiful smell of nature.” The verandah at the back of the house looks out into the rainforest and forms a frame around a view of natural greenery. Originally built with a straight verandah roof, Shannon and Steve had it changed to an apex to better suit their needs. “We actually raised the verandah roof out the back

mid-2011 and has since garnered 120 volunteers and a management team; the Queenslander home fits the brief of modern functionality in a traditional style.

because we weren’t happy with the view it restricted,” Shannon explains. “Now you can see right the way up the hill.” It’s this same appreciation for nature that prompted Shannon to undertake a floral arranging workshop after leaving her job as a clinical psychologist to spend more time with Maddie and Connor. “I had so many floral arrangements in my house after I did a workshop just for fun,” Shannon remembers. “I thought I really should pass these on to someone who would really appreciate them.” Her career as a psychologist gave Shannon insight into the emotional strain suffered not only by people facing serious challenges in their lives, but also by those in caring roles within the community. “It can be quite exhausting for carers,” Shannon recognises. “They soldier on regardless, but it’s the smallest moment of validation that gives them a boost.”

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Left to right: Picture-perfect views of the lush rainforest from the bath tub are interrupted only by a nosy kookaburra, who likes to perch just

Shannon’s country-style kitchen remained full of flowers for the next 18 months, after Shannon started The Flower Project in southeast Queensland in mid-2011; self-funded and with the help of some generous neighbours. The concept was simple: delivering beautiful bouquets to members of the community who would appreciate them the most, with no other agenda than to make those people feel special. Those people may be the parents of sick children, those in caring roles, people suffering from depression or isolation or the elderly. “A lot of recipients have never received a bouquet in their life,” Shannon says. “We can provide that small gesture of recognition to make someone feel cared for and it really does make someone feel nice when they receive a bouquet.” Having moved out of the Yeardleys’ kitchen and into new premises at Brisbane’s Red Hill earlier this year, The Flower Project has grown significantly since those early days and now has the support of 120 volunteers, a

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management team and board. The volunteers who make the bouquets are all experienced florists and their skill and creativity is matched by the kindness of a willing team who delivers the bouquets. “I have met more amazing people through The Flower Project than ever before,” Shannon says. “I am in awe of the generosity of our volunteers.” In less than two years, The Flower Project has delivered more than 1500 bouquets in South East Queensland, delivering between 30 and 40 bouquets each week. “It’s not just the idea of a present or a thank you,” Shannon explains. “It’s also that each bouquet is handmade by one of our volunteers, so a lot of time, effort and thought has gone into making something special just for them. That’s what people really appreciate.” The Flower Project is built on the principle of valuing community connections and as such offers opportunities that support selfsustainment. Traditional donations play an important part in maintaining the number

outside the bathroom windows; inspired by her love of vibrant flowers, Shannon introduces bright and bold hues into every room of her hinterland home.

of bouquets delivered and The Flower Project also runs floral workshops for people who have the same interest in creating pretty things as Shannon and her team. Participants get the chance to create something beautiful to give to someone else and something to keep. “People who come to the workshops are already getting the chance to make a bouquet for someone else,” Shannon says. “Then the proceeds from each workshop participant provide another bouquet for The Flower Project.” With plans to take The Flower Project to more of Queensland and even other states in the near future, Shannon is waiting for the right people to present themselves for a natural expansion, which is not a small undertaking. “Sometimes I think ‘what have I taken on?’” she concedes. “But then you do just one delivery and you know it’s all worth it. The appreciation shown by our recipients is simply heart-warming.” For more information about The Flower Project visit

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Before Ellie came on the scene, the neglected Queenslander was in need of lots of TLC.


e first met Ellie Ramsey, owner of the iconic Paddington store Blake & Taylor, when we visited her country property Fat Ted Farm in Harlin, a small town 90 minutes drive from Brisbane. This time we visited Ellie’s city abode, a stunning renovated timber and tin Queenslander in the inner-west suburb of Toowong, just a short drive from her store. “When we first saw the house it was a dump,” Ellie recalls. “It had been added onto so much over the years it was almost impossible to see the original, splendid 1906 home itself. It was covered in security grills, ramps had been added and the verandas had been closed in. It started as a lovely, grand home but along the way had been a boarding house, then cut into flats before being converted back to a family home.” The first thing Ellie and her husband, Duncan, did was to strip the home back to its original state and then rip out as many internal walls as possible to let the natural light flood in. The living area was extended to include a large deck, allowing the family to make the most of the garden’s leafy views. A partially glazed little breakfast room was added to the side of the deck and a new Hamptons-style kitchen, with glossy black subway tiles, was installed.

SINGING THE BLUES Ellie Ramsay’s home is a tribute to years of hard work and a passion for blue, specifically indigo. -------------------story & styling by TAHN SCOON, photography JOHN DOWNS

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Ellie’s beloved collection of blue and white ceramics works in with her collection of blue and white cushions, sourced from her own store, Blake & Taylor.

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Clockwise from opposite page: The new Hamptons-style kitchen incorporates natural finishes and traditional details such as ornate corbels; Ellie

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favours interiors that complement the home’s original features; classic furniture was selected for its durability; floral delights; Ellie can now enjoy time in the kitchen.

“We did a lot of work on the house, but tried to retain all the good bits,” Ellie says. “For instance, the hall was in a bad way but we didn’t gut it and replaster. Instead we kept as many original features as possible, including the old archway and belt rails, and worked around them. In the new additions such as the breakfast room, we matched the architectural details, including skirtings, as closely as possible. And though the kitchen is new, we included old corbels and mouldings. It was all added expense but worth it. I hate old homes with modern boxes tacked on. I wanted the house to feel whole.” As the home is on a steeply sloping block, there was space underneath the house but it only consisted of “big timber stumps and dirt with an old fireplace, which was originally used for boiling the copper on washing day”. In the renovation, the fireplace was retained for decorative purposes and the downstairs built-in to include an office, guest room and bathroom, and a generous storage room. The storage room houses Ellie’s everchanging, ever-expanding collection of vintage pieces. “Old objects bring soul into the home but often they need a little bit of work,” she says. “So that’s what we do, collect vintage pieces and update them, usually with a bit of our chalk paint and then sell them in the store.” Once the extensive renovations were complete, the couple and their teenage daughter, Taylor (for whom the store was

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Clockwise from left: A trip to France inspired a lifelong love affair with blue hues, and indigo accents run throughout the home; the bathroom is brought to life with

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sunny yellow walls; the couple retained as many of the home’s original features as they could; seven years down the track, the renovations were finally finished.

named) moved in and Ellie began decorating in her relaxed, classic style. “I like timeless pieces and finishes,” she says “The marble bench tops for example will still look good in 10 years, whereas laminate won’t.” While Ellie favours a warm, natural colour palette as her base, blue, specifically indigo, is clearly her accent colour of choice. “We even hold indigo dyeing classes at the store,” she says. “I fell in love with this particular shade when I did a woad dyeing workshop in France a couple of years back — it’s just stunning.” France has become such a passion and inspiration for Ellie; she’s now hosting group tours. “We did our first trip this year and it was a huge success,” she says. “We’re going again next May and the ladies will be doing a woad workshop this time, I’ve just had so many requests, indigo is such a loved colour.” Gardening is another of Ellie’s pleasures and though minutes from Brisbane city, her little kitchen garden and courtyard have a distinct European flavour. “I especially love growing lemon and lime trees, rosemary and lavender,” she says. “Though everything needs a lot of water and work in the heat of our summer, it’s my least favourite time of year as a gardener!” After seven years of gardening, renovating and decorating, Ellie says they’re finally finished. “We’ve just completed the front fence and garden, which was our last job, so no more ‘to-do’ lists,” she admits. “We’re finally free to sit back on the front verandah and just enjoy!”

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Bembridge bar stool in rattan, $333.30, HOMES Australian Country 131

Benchmark beach shack Once a die-hard city slicker, Diane Perkins has embraced a gentler pace of life with her move to the NSW south coast. -------------------by SIOBHAN O’BRIEN, photography SUE STUBBS


ouses, like people, places and pets, have moods. Some are warm and inviting, others are cold and unsavoury. It’s not something you can put your finger on immediately — sometimes you don’t know what mood a house has until you’ve left. This is not the case with Diane Perkins’ house at Culburra Beach on the south coast of NSW. Her domain has an instant effect — it is tranquil, appealing and comfortable. It’s a place that you don’t want to leave. “We moved down from Sydney last year,” Diane says. “I retired and my husband works from an office in the house. The crazy thing is that we seem to be busier than we ever were in Sydney, with friends and family coming down regularly for visits and the activities we undertake in the village. It’s a very full life for a so-called sleepy village! Going back to Sydney is a bit of a chore for us now.” It's understandable why so many people want to come and stay. This large residential

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block is surrounded by ocean and national park; the orientation of the building provides ideal northern exposure while the block is located directly behind the Culburra Beach sand dunes. Add Diane’s obvious passion for food, gardens, art and interiors to the mix and you almost have the perfect getaway. So how did this previously city-centric

couple end up just under three hours south of the big smoke? “With two dogs, we decided the only way we could get away was to buy a weekender,” Diane recalls. “We liked the idea of the more rugged south coast and drove down one weekend in 2001 as far south as Bawley Point, then stopped in every village north of there.

Clockwise from opposite: Diane enlisted the help of BHI Architects to create their dream home; the home sits directly behind the Culburra Beach dunes; the property is surrounded by national park.

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Currarong was the last place we visited as it was getting late on Sunday. It’s located at the end of a very long road and we wondered whether we would ever get there. Neither of us had ever heard of it, but when we got there we drove to the shops where there is a magnificent view out over the bay back to Culburra Beach and luckily it was a perfect day. We knew this was the place.” Not long after, Diane and her husband found the block they were looking for. Next they removed the existing house and enlisted the expertise of the Nowra-based BHI Architects.

The result is a sustainable, lightweight construction that features two pavilions with a sizeable deck that wraps around the side and parking which has been integrated seamlessly into the façade. The striking project uses an efficient combination of timber and steel framing, roof water collection (that is reused internally and externally for Diane’s much-loved garden) and fire-resistant fibre-cement cladding. Other sustainable materials integrated into the house include hardwood timber floors and deck (sourced from a managed forest),

Clockwise from opposite: Hardwood timber floors run throughout the home; shells, pebbles and beechwood are collected and used as decorative accents; interiors reflect the home’s coastal setting; floral delights.

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natural stone elements throughout and high-performance insulation. “We love the way the house connects to the outside,” Diane says. “The high windows let in lots of light and we are surrounded by gum trees so we get dappled light and movement in the living room at various times of the day, especially early morning and late afternoon. I’m a keen native gardener and that’s another feature of the house I love. We also like the way the architects kept the design in sympathy with the building style of the village.” Another bonus for this couple is the careful integration of the design with the existing natural vegetation. “This was very important to us as I am besotted with natives and proteas, which I discovered grow extremely

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well down here,” Diane adds. “I can’t resist them. I have even started a vegetable garden and a worm farm, which is very satisfying.” Diane’s garden is now home to frequent and unexpected visitors including echidnas, parrots and snakes. Wallabies live in the national park across the road, while whales and dolphins are spotted from the nearby beach on a regular basis. “The birdlife is amazing here and native animals are everywhere,” she says. “The south coast is still very natural compared to the coast north of Sydney. There are lots

of relatively small, untouched villages and Currarong is definitely one of them.” Inside her home, Diane has retained a look that is in keeping with this outdoor setting. Each room features objects she’s found on her many walks in the area including shells, pebbles and driftwood. She has skilfully arranged these alongside an intriguing collection of art, limited-edition photographs and unique items such as CH25 chairs by revered designer Hans Wegner. But the pieces de resistance are the stunning cloth designs by the Sydney-based

Clockwise from top left: Diane welcomes many visitors to her coastal hideaway; a quiet reading corner in a guest bedroom; white walls and Roman blinds keep this bedroom for two light and bright.

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designer, Julie Patterson, that were used throughout the project. Diane first saw Julie’s designs in a magazine, but when a neighbour mentioned that the designer frequented Currarong on a regular basis, Diane decided to get in touch. “Julie came to my neighbour’s house for the weekend as I was finalising the interiors and she helped me choose the fabric,” Diane recalls. “When I showed her the fabric I selected for the living room curtains, she told me she had designed it when she was at Currarong and it represents the particular colour of the sea, sand and seaweed here. I couldn’t believe it — what a wonderful connection!” It sounds like Diane’s sea change was meant to be.

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Blue Marine bed linen, $189,

Inspired by ... Natural materials rule in this laid-back beachside abode. Follow suit and incorporate jute, stripes and seashells for a classic coastal feel. ------------

Small ceramic milk jug, $28.90,

compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

Hamptons Love framed print, $253.90,

Brasilia floor rug, $199.95, amalfihome

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Roxanne lounge chair, $1980,

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TREASURE HUNTER Sue Clohesy’s talent for interior styling has left its mark on many homes in her Victorian hometown of Mildura, not to mention on the throngs of tourists who visit her landmark homewares store every year. -------------------by KIRSTY MCKENZIE, photography KEN BR ASS

Sue’s love of decorating means her home will never be completely finished.

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ue Clohesy says she inherited her bowerbird gene from her mother’s side of the family. For as long as she can remember she has loved the thrill of the chase, heading out to estate auctions and garage sales in search of the perfect, quirky piece of furniture or artefact to decorate her home . “I grew up on a farm at Nichols Point, just out of Mildura,” she recalls. “Dad grew grapes for dried fruit and Mum was a nurse from Wilcannia, so I have pretty deep country roots. I’ve always loved the character of old things and even as a teenager when I would take my friends on treasure hunts. We went to Adelaide sometimes and I remember another treasure hunting expedition to Ballarat, Bendigo and Castlemaine.” At the age of 18, Sue was able to take her design and decorating skills to new levels when she married John, an electrician from Red Cliffs, and they had their own home to work on. In 1991, she realised her dream of doing up an old house when she and John moved into a 1930s farmhouse on acreage at Irymple about 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Mildura. In 1995 she extended herself a step

further by opening an antiques and old wares shop called Rose Harvest in the garage at home. Locals immediately responded to her eye for detail and artful vignettes, not to mention the bunches of roses and other cottage flowers she displayed in every conceivable receptacle for sale and the simple pleasure of having something for the eye to feast on. Along the way, Sue and John renovated the house, and Sue turned it into an object lesson in how to combine garage sale finds, antiques and old wares into pleasing roomscapes. “We inherited good bones,” she says. “Of course we kept the beautiful cornices, lead light windows, verandahs and high ceilings, but refurbished where necessary.”

As their children, Rhiannon, Siobhan and Connor came along, the house began to feel more crowded, and Sue says she moved with the times and the somewhat dark and gloomy interiors gradually evolved into a lighter and brighter living space. Carpets were replaced by polished floorboards and countless applications of white paint have given the interiors a new lease on life. Sue still displays treasured old wares, but these days, they are more likely to sit alongside a contemporary artwork, or a boldly coloured piece of glass. Along the way, Rose Harvest moved on as well, first to a shop on the highway and now to a vast emporium in the middle of Mildura’s CBD. Sue says these are good times for the

Clockwise from opposite page: Polished floorboards replaced the dated carpet; old and new pieces tie together seamlessly in the country home; the kitchen has just the right amount of ornaments and wares.

140 Australian Country HOMES

HOMES Australian Country 141

house proud, with DIY and home renovator TV shows such as The Block giving the business fresh impetus. “I’ve moved with the times,” she says. “I deal more in upcycled timber furniture rather than antiques and the shop has lots of quirky art pieces that customers can mix with their favourite old pieces.” Thanks to this constant state of flux Sue says she never tires of going to work. “There is never a day when I don’t look forward to going to the shop because I’m always rearranging things and playing around finding the best way to display new stock,” she says. “I have customers who come in pretty much every lunch time to see what has changed and I can’t recall how many of them I’ve seen through their own renovations and evolutions. I’m also very lucky to have a solid base of tourists who come in every time they’re in town, whether to buy gifts or something for their homes. Thanks in large part to [Italian chef] Stefano de Pieri, Mildura has a very strong food culture. Langtree Street is like a little Lygon Street and tourism is very important for the whole town.” As with the business, Sue says her own home is always a “work in progress”. When Australian Country visited, she and John were in the middle of their second major renovation, which mainly involves combining rooms to make the living spaces bigger and opening the house up to create better flow between inside and out. Sue, who has dabbled in art since she did a TAFE course as a school leaver, has finally gained her own studio in an

enclosed verandah, which also now has a living area opening to a deck. “I’d have to say it’s my favourite part of the house,” she says. “I work six days a week, so I always try to make a window on a Sunday for painting. It’s the perfect pick me up after a busy week.” While she adds that the house is “pretty much unrecognisable” from the property she and John bought 25 years ago, some pieces have made the journey with them. A treasured organ still does double duty as a desk in the living room, and above it, there’s a painting of a rose wreath, of no particularly important provenance. “I bought it at an antique auction 30 years ago,” she says. “Just about everybody who sees it wants to buy it, but it’s one thing that’s simply not for sale.” For more information about Sue’s shop visit

Clockwise from right: Upcycled furniture creates intriguing roomscapes; Sue gets a kick out of procuring the one-off bargains that decorate her home; bold colours and mismatched pieces are never shied away from.

142 Australian Country HOMES

Ceramic soup bowl, $26.25,

Essence vintage chandelier, $1190.60, frenchbedroom

Inspired by ...

Kew throw in blush, $179.95,

Old treasures and contemporary wares go hand in hand in Sue’s charming Mildura home. Create your own artful vignettes and settings starting with these key pieces. -----------compiled by ALICE GRIFFIN

Bloomingville rose jar set, $70.25,

Metz gold candelabra, $131.15,

19th-century Anglo-Indian walnut writing box, price available on request,

Studio wire dining chair, $228.95,

← ←

Bath Salt No 3, pomegranate, $65.95, concrete

Aisling silver metal mantel clock, $75.30,

Large terrazzo pot with plant, $145,

HOMES Australian Country 143


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Australian Country Homes#2  

As always, the homes we love the most are often the ones money can’t buy. They are put together by talented owners who have a great eye for...

Australian Country Homes#2  

As always, the homes we love the most are often the ones money can’t buy. They are put together by talented owners who have a great eye for...