Heart Of Africa
In a bespoke retreat on the coast of Mozambique, this Perth couple loves to shake off their city stresses and reconnect with family.
A tropical lodge in Mozambique is a sanctuary for a Perth couple and their far-flung family.
Adiving trip to the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique inspired Adri-Ann and Rob Brown to buy land in this southern African nation and eventually create a retreat on the Indian Ocean. “It was love at first sight for Rob,” says Adri-Ann. “He loves the ocean, I love the bush. This area has abundant wildlife in an extraordinarily biodiverse marine and terrestrial reserve, so he knew I’d love it, too.”
The Sanctuary is a 30,000ha reserve set up to protect the marine environment and indigenous animals and plants. Within it, a limited number of licenses have been issued to build private properties and just two commercial lodges. Adri-Ann and Rob secured one of only two private sites at World’s View, the northernmost tip.
They purchased the plot in 2004, while still living in their homeland of South Africa, but moved to Australia the same year with daughter Camdyn, now 17. The Sanctuary project was placed on hold while they set up businesses in Perth and Fremantle, including furniture and homewares destination Blu Peter.
“In 2013, after the death of my dad, our family went back to The Sanctuary on holiday with my sister Charlene and her Swiss husband Sandro. It was decided the family needed a place to get together from all over the world, and that it was time to build a lodge on the land.” That was the seed of the property now known as Azulik, an earthy, peaceful retreat where the family can gather and disconnect from the world at large.
The design evolved quickly, thanks to Adri-Ann’s interior-design flair, her sister’s architectural background, and Rob and Sandro’s experience in the building industry. Their approach retained the large native msasa trees on the site while maximising views along the ridge, which sits 60m above sea level. “The aim was to build a main area consisting of a lounge, kitchen, bar and pool in masonry and concrete, which gave us a solid structure to withstand cyclones,” says Adri-Ann. The four bedrooms, with ensuites featuring outdoor showers, are a series of tents with knockout views.
All the stone, brick, cement and other building materials had to be brought in on traditional sailboats. “A slow and costly exercise,” says Adri-Ann. Workers from nearby communities were employed in the project, and local women helped weave lala-palm walkways, kitchen door coverings and some mats in the main lounge. In line with the area’s building regulations, jecca, a reed harvested as part of a community upliftment project, was used for the roof. Most of the timbers are sustainably harvested or recycled, including old jetty timbers in the firepit area and a canoe-turned-coffee table.
“All lodges on The Sanctuary use sambiri hardwood for the roof trusses,” Adri-Ann explains. “We painted ours white to create a beach atmosphere. The aim was to create a calm space with soft, washed-out colours reflecting the bush and ocean.”
To achieve that impression, the walls in the main area were rendered and bag-washed with cement-based paint. Timber decks and columns were aged using a mix of water and cement, rubbed on by hand and left to dry. Adri-Ann and Charlene decorated the concrete floors with stencils and white paint. “Unfortunately, we didn’t bring tape or glue to hold down the stencils. We resorted to honey at one stage, which was messy!”
In contrast, the interior decorating was easy for Adri-Ann, who introduced her signature interplay of textured layers in natural fibres, antique woods and customised pieces in neutral tones. The only bright colour is a touch of aqua, which feels totally in keeping with the watery aspect.
“The space is always evolving,” she says. “We’re paring it back more and more so that it’s all about tranquillity and calm, and being a beautiful, comfortable backdrop to our coastal view. It really is our beach-to-bushland piece of paradise.” Azulik Lodge is available to rent at azuliklodge.com. Blu Peter; (08) 9433 1782 or blupeter.com.au.