Responsible travel: Historic Homestead nr Clare Valley, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Our 400 acres are home to 50-75 Kangaroos. We have raised and protected baby Kangaroos whose mothers have been hit and killed by motor vehicles and we do not allow any shooting on our property.
By encouraging regrowth of the native Blue Gums we are able to provide a safe and comfortable sanctuary for the kangaroos and other wildlife from the surrounding argricultural land, including possums and echidnas. There are 26 varieties of birds that have been identified on the property, and, even though they eat our fruit, we are happy to share it with them.
We also refrain from killing reptiles. Our native brown snakes, although dangerous are shy and will avoid humans. We therefore advise guests of their presence, encouraging them to wear appropriate footwear, watch where they are walking, and make sufficient ground noise. Our two little Jack Russells ensure that snakes are not encouraged to make their home near the house and gardens.
The homestead was almost ready for demolition when we bought it in 1998, having been condemned and not lived in for almost 30 years. The building had been listed by the National Trust in 1983, and we produced a Conservation Plan which was approved by the National Trust in 1999. This formed the basis of all restoration activity. We rescued the property and invested heavily in its restoration, which included reconstruction of 9 chimneys, completely new roof, replacement of all ceilings, replastering of about 40% of all walls, completely new plumbing, electricity and gas supply, the demolition and rebuilding of all verandas on all sides of the building, and landscaping of the whole homestead walled precinct.
Recognition was gained from the local, state and national heritage bodies, as well as from the local community, who regarded the building as something of an icon. Formal recognition was granted by the Civic Trust of South Australia of its Conservation Award in 2002.
Apart from the homestead itself, a number of other buildings were restored or stabilised, including one of the largest shearing sheds in the region.
Friends & Neighbours
We strongly support the ideal of sourcing food locally. Wherever possible our dinners and breakfasts include either our own or our neighbours' organic beef and eggs, vegetables from the gardens, locally smoked bacon from our butcher in Jamestown, 12 Kms away, fruit from an organic orchard, Taralee at Wirrabarra, 55 Km away, seafood from Port Pirie, 65 Km away, free range chicken and ducks from the Barossa Valley 170 Km away.
We recommend day trips in the region, tailored to our guests interests and enabling them to meet local people. We recommend specific wineries, restaurants and tourist attractions, and we have developed special relationships with all the owners or these establishments. These include Tim Adams, Reilleys in Mintaro, Sevenhill Cellars and others, all in the Clare Valley. We recommend guests go to the Burra Heritage mining town and take the Heritage Trail using an entry key from the Visitor Centre, and we also recommend the 'The Black Sheep' restaurant. When traveling north to visit the Flinders Ranges we will plan a self drive tour that takes in local places of interest on the way, this includes a local bakery for coffee, a walk in one of the gorges, a visit to the heritage town of Melrose, including the local coffee shop and pub there, as well as other less well known historical sites, Kanyaka Station ruins and 'Death Rock' water hole near Quorn, and the Yourambula Caves aboriginal painting and etchings near Hawker.
Overseas guests in particular love to meet Australians and experience something of our way of life. We facilitate this in a way that is generally not possible with urban or large tourist operators. Apart from the fact that we and our family socialise with guests, cooking for them, eating with them, and advising them about what to see and do, we will invite people from the local community to dine with us if we know they will contribute to the interests of guests. For example, for those who are interested in agriculture or history, we will invite a local farmer and his wife to join us for dinner. Inevitably, the guests will be invited to the farm and shown around. The same applies to a local lawyer or doctor or winemaker.
Volunteering & Charity
In 2001, we opened the Homestead for local group raising funds for the Bundaleer Music Festival, which they had started as a biennial event in 1999 and for which we hosted a VIP function in the grounds outside the dilapidation of the building. The 2001 open day attracted about 1,300 visitors.
In 2002, another local group, bent on raising money to buy a hydrotherapy pool for the medical centre they were expanding, was given the opportunity to use North Bundaleer to assist. The result was an amazing $23,000 raised through 1,200 visitors, with matching funds from an insurance company. The local group purchased the warm-up pool used Sydney Olympics to assist in the rehabilitation of local residents, particularly farmers who prone to back injuries.
Various community organisations, including, Rotary, aged care and local government, have used the Homestead as a venue for cultural events to assist in their fund raising. We have also organised non-profit making musical events in the Ballroom to provide local cultural experiences.