Af­ter weath­er­ing a cy­clone, this Van­u­atu prop­erty be­came a much-loved sec­ond home for its stylish owner and her fam­ily.

Belle - - Contents -

One of Syd­ney’s su­per stylists finds a place in the tropics.

Ev­ery­thing about El­iz­a­beth Jones ap­pears per­fect,” Belle said in the April 2003 is­sue, “her at­tire, her pres­ence and her lat­est ven­ture.” Back then, we were talk­ing about Arida, El­iz­a­beth’s Iain Hal­l­i­day-de­signed store in Syd­ney’s Potts Point, where trea­sures she sourced from around the globe were dis­played to per­fec­tion. Those words could just as ap­pro­pri­ately re­fer to her most re­cent pro­ject, the fam­ily get­away El­iz­a­beth and hus­band Michael have cre­ated in Par­adise Cove on the main is­land of Van­u­atu.

The cou­ple first vis­ited the South Pa­cific re­gion 15 years ago for a busi­ness con­fer­ence and were struck by the easy man­ner of the lo­cal peo­ple and their sim­ple way of life. For El­iz­a­beth, it was also rem­i­nis­cent of her happy child­hood in Pa­pua New Guinea. “It’s three hours from Syd­ney and a com­pletely dif­fer­ent cul­ture, lan­guage and way of life,” she ex­plains. Re­turn­ing for hol­i­days with their chil­dren re­in­forced the ap­peal and they de­cided to buy land and build. Ar­chi­tect Iain Hal­l­i­day of Bur­ley Ka­ton Hal­l­i­day had al­ready drawn plans for an­other lo­ca­tion when a plum coastal prop­erty came up for sale. “It was beau­ti­ful,” says Iain, de­scrib­ing the al­most three-hectare ex­panse of se­cluded land with its own beach. There was an ex­ist­ing house and a cou­ple of tiny separate dwellings, giv­ing am­ple space to ac­com­mo­date the whole fam­ily – chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

The main house, called Tula, was built by a French res­i­dent in the 1980s, shortly af­ter the An­glo-french con­do­minium of the New He­brides be­came the Repub­lic of Van­u­atu. With a sym­met­ri­cal lay­out, dis­tinc­tive high-pitched roof and sub­stan­tial cir­cu­lar col­umns, it had a great sense of so­lid­ity. Lit­tle struc­tural work was needed and the changes were mainly cos­metic. El­iz­a­beth had a very clear vi­sion of what she wanted and Iain ac­knowl­edges that. “It was my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of her aes­theti­cism,” he ex­plains.

Ad­di­tions to the main house in­cluded a porte-cochere and arched en­trance doors plus a spec­tac­u­lar thatched-roof naka­mal (meet­ing place) that ex­panded the liv­ing space with an open area for meals. The cot­tages were re­built and turned into guest­houses. Both are min­i­mal, with no-fuss con­crete floors. Iain de­signed an­other naka­mal to sit be­tween them. A strong in­flu­ence on the de­sign were the round col­umns of Tula, which ap­pear through­out the prop­erty. The build­ing work took only 18 months for Port Vila-based Nick Bram­ley of Bram­ley Con­struc­tions. “Noth­ing was a prob­lem for him,” says Iain.

One of the great­est chal­lenges, how­ever, was the land­scap­ing, which had to be done twice. The houses and gar­den were just com­plete when Cy­clone Pam struck in March 2015, up­root­ing trees and wip­ing out rare and es­tab­lished plants. Straight af­ter the all­clear, land­scape de­signer An­nie Wilkes flew in to as­sess what was lost and be­gin re­plant­ing its pre­cise lay­out, with masses of palms and trop­i­cal plants, gin­ger in a va­ri­ety of species, bougainvil­lea, and large num­bers of mango, frangi­pani, tamarind and av­o­cado trees.

Luck­ily, the main house was un­touched and its con­tents – six con­tain­ers of fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories that came from El­iz­a­beth’s Syd­ney home and her days sourc­ing far and wide for Arida – were un­scathed. Most of it re­flects the fam­ily’s re­laxed life­style, such as all the so­fas with their cov­ers eas­ily re­moved and washed. “It is one of the last places where life is nat­u­ral and un­so­phis­ti­cated,” says El­iz­a­beth. “We love that we have the space to share our piece of par­adise with our fam­ily and friends.” # Both guest­houses are avail­able for short stays. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit tamarind­

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