The manor reborn
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.”
Check it out at www.brockleyestate.com.au