WELCOME TO QUAMBY, A RESTORED 1870s COTTAGE ON A NORTH TASMANIAN FARM.
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.