FOR MANY PEO­PLE, ren­o­vat­ing a house in the coun­try is a big enough dream, but for the past three years Simon and Sarah Hag­garty have been re­build­ing a vil­lage. In 2011, Simon’s fam­ily bought the nearly 5000-hectare Goonoo Goonoo Station, 23 kilo­me­tres south of Tam­worth in NSW, set­ting them­selves the au­da­cious task of giv­ing one of Aus­tralia’s old­est graz­ing prop­er­ties a new lease on life. Dat­ing back to the 1830s, the prop­erty in­cluded more than 20 build­ings, such as an 1840s home­stead, a jacka­roo’s quar­ters, butcher’s shop and stone store, as well as a post of­fif­fice, chapel, school house, far­rier’s work­shop and wool­shed. Then liv­ing on Syd­ney’s north­ern beaches, it wasn’t un­til the fol­low­ing year in 2012, when they hosted Simon’s cousin Summa’s wed­ding in the home­stead gar­den, that the cou­ple imag­ined open­ing a restau­rant, func­tion venue and ac­com­mo­da­tion here. In 2013, after the birth of their daugh­ter, Abi­gail, they started to act on this vi­sion, com­mut­ing be­tween Syd­ney and Tam­worth fort­nightly, be­fore mov­ing to a cot­tage on the farm per­ma­nently in May 2015. “When I was work­ing in Syd­ney [as an ac­coun­tant and equities an­a­lyst] I was leav­ing home at 6.30am to beat the traf­fiffic and then I’d ar­rive home at night, and half an hour later Abi would go to bed,” says Simon. “Mov­ing here has ce­mented the three of us as a fam­ily unit,” agrees Sarah. “We spend a lot of time to­gether now, whether that is cook­ing, rid­ing bikes or swim­ming.” Al­though both Simon and Sarah grew up in Syd­ney, nei­ther were new to coun­try life. Simon had spent week­ends and school hol­i­days on a fam­ily farm at Wol­lombi in the NSW Hunter Val­ley and brought his fi­first Pee Wee 50 mo­tor­bike with him to Tam­worth. “It’s in the shed,” he says with a smile. Simon’s fa­ther, Tony Hag­garty, also grew up on a dairy and beef farm at Dun­gog in the Hunter Val­ley. Sarah’s in­tro­duc­tion to the coun­try came later in life, mov­ing from Kil­lara on Syd­ney’s north shore to study busi­ness mar­ket­ing at Charles Sturt Univer­sity’s Bathurst cam­pus in cen­tral NSW. It was here she met Simon, who was study­ing busi­ness ac­count­ing. After grad­u­at­ing, Sarah worked for Cu­mu­lus Es­tate Wines as a mar­ket­ing as­sis­tant, which of­ten took her to Orange for events and the an­nual FOOD Week. She then changed di­rec­tion and be­gan work­ing as a law clerk, while study­ing post­grad­u­ate law. The pur­chase of Goonoo Goonoo Station brought the fam­ily’s Goonoo Goonoo Pas­toral Com­pany hold­ings to 31,600 hectares across fi­five New Eng­land prop­er­ties, and

pushed Simon and Sarah’s project man­age­ment, de­sign and mar­ket­ing skills into new ter­ri­tory — al­though Simon keeps the scale of the project in per­spec­tive: “A big project is just lots of lit­tle jobs,” he says. The cou­ple also had a for­tu­nate head start, with the pre­vi­ous own­ers hav­ing al­ready en­gaged Syd­ney-based Tanner Kib­ble Den­ton Ar­chi­tects and gained a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion to re­store the build­ings for pri­vate use. Simon con­tin­ued to work with as­so­ciate Sean Wil­liams, who spe­cialises in her­itage build­ings, to re­think the de­sign for more com­mer­cial uses. To­day, the at­ten­tion to de­tail in ev­ery as­pect of the makeover is ex­tra­or­di­nary — from ar­ti­san cus­tom cab­i­netry and re­use of orig­i­nal hard­ware, to the thought­ful com­bi­na­tion of con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional fi­fit­tings. The Glasshouse Restau­rant and The Wool­store func­tion room opened in Oc­to­ber, the restau­rant tak­ing its name from the state­ment glass walls, re­veal­ing 180-de­gree views of un­du­lat­ing farm­land. Chef Damion Moy­ses’ menu fo­cuses on re­gional pro­duce, shar­ing plates and el­e­gant pre­sen­ta­tion. “We wanted to offf­fer a style and qual­ity of restau­rant and ac­com­mo­da­tion not avail­able in­land be­tween the Hunter Val­ley and Byron Bay,” says Simon. Back at the Hag­gar­tys’ cot­tage, Sarah ad­mires the black baldy cat­tle graz­ing in the pad­dock. “I still get teary when I leave my fam­ily in Syd­ney,” she con­fesses, watch­ing Abi run to play with labradoo­dle Hamish and say hello to calves graz­ing by the fence. “But once I am home I am right.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, tele­phone 0429 384 297 or visit goonoo­goonoo­st­a­

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