The manor re­born

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Jes­sica Howard

ONE of the things I love about Tas­ma­nia is de­spite its small size, there are still rel­a­tively hid­den gems wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered.

When most Tasmanians think of Buck­land, they prob­a­bly think of the pub, the church and not much else.

But the coun­try town has a new, grow­ing at­trac­tion, well worth check­ing out when trav­el­ling to or from the East Coast or as a base for tourists want­ing to ex­plore the south of the state.

Orig­i­nally built in 1840 and re­born in June 2011, Brock­ley Es­tate is a six- bed­room ho­tel run by Ho­bart- born Ju­lian Roberts and Span­ish- born Chaxi­raxi Higuera. The sand­stone res­i­dence is mag­nifi cent in it­self but the true beauty lies in the way the young cou­ple have re­stored and fur­nished it and are now able to share it with their guests.

The home was built in three stages which is still ev­i­dent to­day.

“A guy called Steven Groomer got the orig­i­nal grant of the land which was 2000 acres ( 810ha) and he built the orig­i­nal sec­tion of the house,” Ju­lian said.

“There has only been a cou­ple of fam­i­lies in be­tween him and us.

“The last fam­ily had it for 110 years but it had been left empty for about 10 years when we bought it. “It was lucky be­cause a lot of th­ese old houses have been

HOUSE mod­ernised, but this has still got the orig­i­nal shin­gle roof un­der­neath the iron.”

Ju­lian had spent the pre­vi­ous 15 years work­ing in hos­pi­tal­ity in Lon­don and Chaxi’s back­ground in ho­tel man­age­ment in both Spain and Eng­land put them in a prime po­si­tion to take on a new chal­lenge in Ju­lian’s home state.

It was Ju­lian’s un­cle Dou­glas Blain who dis­cov­ered the prop­erty af­ter he bought the farm Stone­hurst next door.

One of the founders of the Spi­talfi elds Trust in Bri­tain in the 1970s, Dou­glas is re­spon­si­ble for hav­ing saved dozens of his­toric build­ings.

“He was driv­ing past ev­ery day watch­ing Brock­ley fall­ing down and he wanted to res­cue it,” Ju­lian said.

“Even­tu­ally he went to an old boys’ re­union and one of his school friends was the nephew who’d got Brock­ley and he wanted to sell be­cause the rest of his farms were fur­ther away. “The house was in a fairly bad way. “The re­tain­ing wall had col­lapsed and all the mud was up against the foun­da­tions rot­ting them away.”

Faith­fully restor­ing the house and set­tling into the for­mer farm man­ager’s house over the hill, the pair have cre­ated some­thing more than a bed and break­fast.

Filled with an­tiques of var­i­ous ori­gins such as a 1780 Per­sian Moghul rug in the draw­ing room, a framed 100- year- old Bri­tish pass­port and an 18th- cen­tury grand­fa­ther clock in the en­trance, Brock­ley has some­thing of note on ev­ery wall and in ev­ery cor­ner.

Each bed­room is themed, such as the Cook’s Quar­ters up the tiny orig­i­nal hard­wood stair­case which is lo­cated in the for­mer ser­vants’ quar­ters.

The Cam­paign Bed­cham­ber con­tains an in­ter­est­ing four- poster wrought iron bed.

“It’s a Bri­tish army offi cer’s bed from the Boer War so it could be fl at packed and taken to the bat­tlefi eld,” Ju­lian said.

“Sort of like an early Ikea.”

Chaxi has also drawn on her Span­ish her­itage to start up spe­cialised cook­ing classes hosted in the Huon pine kitchen.

“My fam­ily is very into cook­ing so we have recipes go­ing back to my great grand­mother,” the Tener­ife- born Chaxi said.

“I have been re­search­ing for the last three years how to use lo­cal in­gre­di­ents in Span­ish cui­sine.

“We have re­ally good- qual­ity in­gre­di­ents and I try to con­cen­trate on only Tas­ma­nian food but cooked with Span­ish tech­niques.

“It’s not just the house; the food and drinks make this place very spe­cial.”

This niche spe­cial­ity has drawn the at­ten­tion of some of the coun­try’s top chefs.

Colin Fass­nidge has stayed at Brock­ley with his fam­ily and Kylie Kwong also vis­ited to sam­ple the Span­ish fare.

Set­tling into her new home, Chaxi said she has fallen in love with Tas­ma­nia.

“Tas­ma­nia is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to where I’m from,” she said.

“The land­scape is just the op­po­site but what I re­ally love are the beaches and that there aren’t that many peo­ple liv­ing here.

“I think there must be some­thing about liv­ing on an is­land and there be­ing less peo­ple that makes ev­ery­one so nice. I feel very wel­come.”

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