HOME­COM­ING

HOW ONE FAM­ILY PUT THEIR STAMP ON A BEAU­TI­FUL OLD FARM­HOUSE IN CEN­TRAL WEST NSW.

Country Style - - CONTRIBUTORS - WORDS KAREN SPRESSER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ABBIE MELLE

How a new gen­er­a­tion has made a 1925 farm­house in Cen­tral West NSW their own.

SCOTT AND SALLY OEHM can trace the his­tory of their home­stead back to the 1920s. “The house was built by Scott’s fam­ily in 1925,” says Sally. “We know this be­cause we still have the farm diaries that note when the bricks for the chim­ney were pur­chased.” It’s that strong fam­ily con­nec­tion that en­ticed the cou­ple out of their city life and landed them in the vast open spa­ces of Tooraweenah in Cen­tral West NSW. Scott left the coun­try be­hind at 13 years old when he headed to board­ing school. Af­ter he grad­u­ated, work kept him in Syd­ney, where he met Sally, who had grown up on the city’s North Shore. The pair mar­ried in 2003 and that same year de­cided to pack up their home in Syd­ney’s En­more and move 430 kilo­me­tres north when Scott’s par­ents, John and Wendy, sug­gested form­ing a farm­ing part­ner­ship at May­field. A 2000-hec­tacre mixed farm nes­tled in the foothills of the War­rum­bun­gle Range, May­field has been in Scott’s fam­ily since 1911 and is still home to his par­ents. “Prior to get­ting mar­ried we’d spend lovely long week­ends here,” says Sally. “Scott had a yearn­ing for coun­try life again so when his par­ents sug­gested the part­ner­ship, we em­braced it.” It didn’t take long for them to feel right at home — the small com­mu­nity of Tooraweenah and Gil­gan­dra (the near­est town for schools and sup­plies) was wel­com­ing and they quickly set­tled into the rhythms of ru­ral life. Ini­tially the new­ly­weds moved into a small cot­tage on the prop­erty, with Scott’s par­ents liv­ing in the main house. Over the fol­low­ing four years, they ren­o­vated and ex­tended but, as chil­dren be­came part of the equa­tion, soon re­alised they needed more space. >

ABOUT THE HOUSE

• In­te­ri­ors are painted Du­lux Nat­u­ral White, while the ex­te­rior weath­er­boards are Warm Grey with Nat­u­ral White and Wood­land Grey trims. 13 25 25; du­lux.com.au • The floor­boards are vinyl planks in Mid Limed Oak by Karn­dean Floor­ing. 1800 331 170; karn­dean.com • In the kitchen, bench­tops are Talo­stone Ar­tic White and Talo­stone Car­rara Gioia features on the is­land bench­top and splash­back. (02) 8783 0600; talo­stone.com.au • Kitchen cab­i­netry is by Stu­art Peart of Castlereagh Cab­i­nets. “A very pa­tient and true ar­ti­san,” says Sally. (02) 6848 5885; castlereagh­cab­i­nets.com.au • Scott made the gar­den gates from an old iron bed­head and bed­foot that the fam­ily found in a build­ing on the farm.

TOORAWEENAH NSW HOME

Lilla feed­ing some ply­mouth rock chick­ens out­side the pot­ting shed, which was orig­i­nally a laun­dry. FAC­ING PAGE Sil­ver­ware from Sally’s late grand­mother is on dis­play in the din­ing room. ”It was given to her in 1941 as a wed­ding present, and she gave it to me a few years ago be­fore she passed away,” says Sally.

HOME TOORAWEENAH NSW Scott out in the pad­dock with 12-year-old son Jack. “Rather than ex­tend­ing the cot­tage fur­ther, swap­ping houses with Scott’s par­ents seemed more prac­ti­cal,” says Sally. In 2007, with son Jack now in tow, they moved to the farm’s main home­stead, a gabled weather­board house with a bull­nose ve­ran­dah, sur­rounded by an oa­sis-like gar­den. Their ‘new’ home had been up­dated by John and Wendy in 2000. “It was beau­ti­ful, with a very large cot­tage gar­den and es­tab­lished trees,” says Sally. The orig­i­nal foot­print had been al­most dou­bled, adding ex­tra liv­ing space and a bed­room, bath­room and of­fice, all while keep­ing the home’s grand roofline and 12-foot ceil­ings through­out. How­ever, the main house un­der­went an­other ren­o­va­tion in 2015 — by then the Oehms were a fam­ily of four (daugh­ter Lilla was born in 2008). “When we moved in it had three bedrooms, now it has four,” says Sally. “We got rid of the for­mal liv­ing ar­eas and turned what was the din­ing room into an­other bed­room. Then we moved the kitchen so that all our liv­ing spa­ces look out at the view.” Glass doors in the open-plan liv­ing area max­imise light and take ad­van­tage of the view across sun-bleached pad­docks to the moun­tain range be­yond. The kitchen is the fo­cal point of the house; the place ev­ery­one gath­ers at the end of the day, where Jack, now 12, and Lilla, nine, do their home­work, where ap­pe­tis­ers are set up when friends visit. “Kitchens are an in­vest­ment and I’m re­ally glad that we spent the money and made it the work­able space it is,” says Sally. Around the time they made the move to May­field, Sally says other young cou­ples were re­turn­ing to sur­round­ing farms in Gil­gan­dra, as their par­ents moved to­wards semi-re­tire­ment. “The com­mu­nity is vi­brant with a lot of younger peo­ple re­turn­ing to the area…the schools are full and grow­ing.” May­field was a merino sheep prop­erty with a small amount of crop­ping when Scott and Sally re­turned; to­day it’s mainly a win­ter crop­ping farm — wheat, canola, bar­ley, lupins and chickpeas fill the pad­docks. The farm also has a small herd of An­gus cat­tle. Scott works full-time on the farm (his par­ents have since left the farm­ing part­ner­ship), while Sally works a few days a week for Sad­dler & Co in Dubbo — just over an hour’s drive away — and for the re­gional chil­dren’s choir, Mooram­billa Voices. Both chil­dren are at lo­cal schools, al­though Jack will head off to board­ing school next year. Labrador Jett, Oliver the cocker spaniel and two cats, Sofia and Ge­or­gia, round out the fam­ily. That’s if you don’t count the 11 chooks that keep them all in eggs. Sally, who’s dis­cov­ered a pas­sion for gar­den­ing since mov­ing to May­field, says the chick­ens are treated very much like pets. “They’re one of my loves in a coun­try gar­den.” While life on the farm never stands still, Sally has cer­tainly em­braced it. “I just love the coun­try life­style… It feels so com­fort­able to me,” she says. “We can be work­ing on the farm one minute and feel like we’re a mil­lion miles from any­where or any­one, then head to one of the pubs with our clos­est friends to share a meal. Even the daily drop-off at the bus stop can turn into a so­cial catch-up with neigh­bours... We still get to en­joy the city as my fam­ily are there and we visit reg­u­larly but it feels very nat­u­ral to be hav­ing our life here.”

Sally Oehm check­ing on the fam­ily’s An­gus cat­tle with her nine-year-old daugh­ter Lilla. FAC­ING PAGE Work boots are left out­side the mud­room af­ter a day out in the pad­docks.

HOME TOORAWEENAH NSW Two Bell glass lamps from MRD Home com­ple­ment a dark wood side­board in the hall­way, where a run­ner from Free­dom adds tex­ture. FAC­ING PAGE, CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP LEFT Trac­tor stools from Free­dom sit un­der the is­land bench, which features a Talo­stone Car­rara Gioia bench­top; Scott and Sally Oehm with their chil­dren Lilla and Jack; in the lounge room, IKEA so­fas are styled with cush­ions from Once Was Lost and Eadie Life­style; Scott used an old iron bed­head he found on the farm to make the front gate. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 135.

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