head south



Lucy and Stewart Hosken are Tas­ma­nian born and bred. They both grew up in Launce­s­ton, and went to school and univer­sity to­gether. “We met in school, that’s such a very Tas­ma­nian story!” Lucy says. Then in 1998 they packed up and moved to Syd­ney for Stewart to pur­sue his career in the finance in­dus­try and Lucy in mar­ket­ing. Nearly two decades on, they are still based in Syd­ney and now the par­ents of Amelia, nine, and eight-year-old Wil­liam, yet their ties with their home state are stronger than ever. “Stewart of­ten dreams of be­ing a full-time farmer,” says Lucy, who set up the un­der­wear la­bel Nearly Nude in 2005. “Although Stewart is not from a farm­ing fam­ily, he’s al­ways loved the whole farm­ing side of things. About five years ago, he started re­search­ing farm­ing and ba­si­cally taught him­self ev­ery­thing. We now own a few farms back in Tassie, and he runs them from afar and goes down every sec­ond week­end.” In fact the en­tire Hosken fam­ily are now able travel be­tween Syd­ney and northern Tas­ma­nia much more reg­u­larly, thanks to the pur­chase of an 1870s tim­ber farm­house called Quamby Home. Three years ago they bought the old house and sur­round­ing farm­land in Ha­gley, about 32 kilo­me­tres west of Launce­s­ton, jointly with friends. “We bought Quamby Home with our close friends Lucy Rayner and Mark French, who we went to uni with, and who live on the prop­erty next door,” says Lucy. “It had been left to the church — never to be sold. Un­der law that meant 80 years, so when the time was up it was sold. Stew wanted >

to buy the farm but we couldn’t as we weren’t there full-time, so we asked our friends if they wanted to buy the farm to­gether. Now Mark and Stew talk about what they’re planting, Mark does it all and we look af­ter the house.” A cen­tury or so ago, the house had been part of the larger Quamby Es­tate, but when they bought it, it was on 126 hectares of farm­land and nearly derelict. “It was just so bad and un­live­able that Mark said, ‘Let’s knock it down and put a pivot ir­ri­ga­tor in.’ But we re­ally wanted a house down here so we could come and go be­tween Syd­ney and Launce­s­ton,” says Lucy. Us­ing a drafts­man and a builder from Launce­s­ton, it took eight months to pull down the lean-to at the rear and build the new kitchen and liv­ing ar­eas. The kitchen has raised tim­ber-lined ceilings, pol­ished concrete floors and views out across the pad­docks to Quamby Bluff on the Great Western Tiers. “It’s so beau­ti­ful look­ing out, most of the land is hedged with hawthorns.” They re-plumbed and built a new bath­room with a deep bath and fit­tings that Lucy bought on­line from a New York com­pany. “We thought we would be sav­ing money, but the freight cost more than the goods in the end,” she says. Amelia and Wil­liam share a bed­room at the front of the house. How­ever, Lucy’s heart was also set on cre­at­ing a bunk room where they could have their cousins from Launce­s­ton to stay. “I saw a pic­ture on Pin­ter­est of those bunks and sent it to our builder and asked, ‘Can you do this?’ Four days later we got a pic­ture of the bunks he had built! Now it’s fun for the kids and they want to sleep in there all the time.” It was a bal­anc­ing act to stay on bud­get and where Lucy splashed out on light fit­tings, they in­stalled more cost ef­fec­tive kitchen cup­boards from >

Bun­nings. “Stew did a lot of the bibs and bobs him­self — we kept the orig­i­nal floor­boards in the hallway and he did a lime wash over the top.” When the in­te­rior was fin­ished and it came to buy­ing art­works, the bud­get had dwin­dled. “I asked Stew what I could spend on art­works and he said $300! Then we re­alised that Stew had taken all th­ese in­cred­i­ble pho­to­graphs over the years, so I got frames from IKEA.” One of his images, of the spectacular Quamby Bluff, hangs over the bed in the main bed­room. The fam­ily’s reg­u­lar vis­its to Quamby Home are al­ways an ad­ven­ture for Amelia and Wil­liam, Lucy says. “We go down for week­ends and at Christ­mas time we were there for three weeks. It has so much his­tory and when­ever we’re there the kids will be play­ing out the back and find 100-year-old horse­shoes, jars and bot­tles — it’s a gi­ant trea­sure hunt. We grow pota­toes and peas, pop­pies and onions, grass seed, car­rot seed and fat­ten lambs on the farm. As soon as it’s light they’re out pick­ing peas or dig­ging pota­toes. They also get to see fam­ily on th­ese vis­its, and it’s just one big party.” Stewart and Lucy of­fer Quamby Home to guests when they’re not in res­i­dence. On their own vis­its they spend much of their time work­ing in the gar­den, which Lucy de­scribes as “very sim­ple with grass ar­eas like a bowl­ing green, big old oak trees and hawthorn”. Stewart, mean­while, is cur­rently restor­ing an old barn as a gar­den shed. “It’s very hard to keep Stew still be­cause it’s his vi­sion, and he wants to make sure it’s per­fect for us. It’s an­other world, it’s beau­ti­ful there, and we love it.”

Hunter gum­boots lined up and ready for walk­ing out on the farm with bas­kets for pick­ing pro­duce in the entrance hall. FAC­ING PAGE Lucy and Stewart Hosken with Wil­liam and Amelia in front of Quamby Home, about 30 min­utes’ west of Launce­s­ton.

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