A right royal property

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

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

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