Something for everyone in this Legana beauty
BUILT by a pardoned convict, lived in by a famous jam maker, and once home to one of the biggest orchards in the southern hemisphere, Freshwater Point is one of the oldest waterfront properties in Tasmania.
With sweeping views across the Tamar River, Dr Peter Wallis’s Legana property offered a unique combination of assets to which he and his late wife Elizabeth found impossible to say no.
Living in Melbourne at the time, the couple bought the house in 2003.
“I spent a good part of my youth in Tasmania so I had idyllic memories of my childhood there. For about 10 years I would browse Tasmanian properties and wistfully think about it,” Peter says.
“When I came across Freshwater Point it was the combination of history, water frontage, a vineyard, jetty and Tasmania that was a winning combination.”
Elizabeth agreed to take a look at the property so Peter could “get it out of his system once and for all” but instead fell in love.
“We went and had a look at the property and went away to have lunch,” Peter says.
“I said, ‘ Well that was nice but too expensive’ and she said ‘ We have to buy it!’.”
More than just an aesthetically pleasing property, the 1820s beauty has some great history to boot.
“It was built by a convict called Jonathon Griffi ths who came out in the Second Fleet,” Peter says.
“After a number of years he was granted his pardon and became quite wealthy. He was situated in Launceston where he also built the fi rst bridge over the Tamar. In those days there wasn’t much road traffi c so he pointed the house towards the river because most people would come by boat.”
“There were a series of owners throughout the 1800s, the most notable being Henry Jones of IXL fame. Then there was a fellow called Nobelius who established an orchard which at one point was one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere.”
The property was being run as a bed and breakfast when bought by the couple – a venture they decided to keep up for a few years with the help of local managers and after a small renovation.
Wallpaper was removed and carpets ripped up to reveal convict hand- sawn floorboards.
Specialising in colonial restorations, Bruce Crerar and his team then undertook another, bigger renovation in 2007.
Using as much recycled materials as possible and built sympathetically to the period, the result was the project being honoured in the Master Builders Tasmania awards.
A major part of the second renovation was the addition of a two- storey folly which contains the master bedroom with views over the river and gardens.
Set on more than 3ha of sprawling grounds, the garden is as big a feature of the property as the home.
The English- style gardens feature centuryold elm trees and the vineyard.
The Wallises had been involved in the Open Garden Scheme in Victoria 15 years ago and Peter is now organising to do the same for the Freshwater Point gardens in memory of Elizabeth. “It’s just a magical place,” he says. “It’s very quiet and you could be miles away from civilisation. The gardens are a delight any time of the year. We often have people visiting and it’s very relaxing for them too. It’s got an aura about it.”