A right royal property
SWAPPING the fast pace of Sydney for country life in the Northern Midlands, Greg Howlett has transformed his and partner Ron Layne’s 19th- century home and garden into a piece of pure pastoral bliss.
Working as a partner in a large law fi rm in the harbour city, Greg was inspired to make his fi rst trip to Tasmania after his sister and brother- in- law moved to Latrobe and his mother wanted to follow suit.
Finding a small place for his mother, Greg fell in love with the state in the process and soon found his own perfect property in 2002 in Old Forest Vale.
“It wasn’t in bad condition but I’ve done a lot of cosmetic work on it and had to do some underpinning,” Greg said.
“The lounge room fl oor had a bit of a lean on it. The original part of the home is 1850s. It was a farmhouse and has been added onto by successive owners.
“It’s hard to work out what the original bit was but I was told when I bought it, the dining and living rooms where added on as an extension probably around 1900- 1910. Obviously the farmers were doing better and as they got more money they added onto the house.”
Originally commuting between Sydney and Tassie, Greg made the move down full time in 2004.
Entering through an impressive set of gates, the farmhouse lies behind imposing hedges and is set behind a circular drive. Each room has a distinct character to it. The dining room is lined with oak panelling and timbers of various kinds feature throughout the home.
The house even boasts a royal connection, with Prince Philip once visiting the property in the late 1940s.
“I met the person who owned the property at the time and he confi rmed it,” Greg said.
“I was shown exactly where he sat, which was near the fi re.”
With views from most rooms, the park- like gardens add another highlight to the property.
Always an avid gardener, this was a passion Greg was not really able to indulge in while in New South Wales.
“I was a city boy, so over my 12 years here I’ve learnt quite a bit and know the easier way to do things now,” he said.
“The house in Sydney always had hundreds of pots in the backyard and then living in the Blue Mountains there was more room. Each house I’ve lived in has gotten bigger and bigger.”
A 300- tree trufferie planted by a previous owner remains in the gardens which also contain an established woodland garden, several vegetable gardens and a large orchard.
Using his neighbours’ sheep as lawn mowers, Greg has also created various garden rooms using borders, walls and rugosa hedges.
The tranquillity, variance in seasons and the amazing birdlife make life at Old Forest Vale extra special.
“Here we have lots of native birds and I’ve bought a lot of indigenous plants from nurseries,” Greg said.
“I’ve put in lots of things that fl ower and provide nectar that encourages the birds.”
I was a city boy, so over my 12 years here I’ve learnt quite a bit and know the easier way to do things now