On the rise: Living in a historic country flour mill
AN OLD FLOUR MILL IN NSW’S CENTRAL WEST HAS HELPED ITS LATEST OWNERS ESCAPE THE DAILY GRIND.
FOR A COUPLE OF accomplished renovators, the old flour mill in Carcoar in NSW’S Central West wouldn’t seem an obvious choice for a new home. The paint on a major overhaul had barely dried when Belinda and Stephen Satterthwaite decided to “have a stickybeak” one afternoon. “As soon as the real-estate agent started showing us around, Stephen and I were looking at each other,” Belinda says. “At the end of the inspection Stephen said we wanted to make an offer and we hadn’t even spoken to each other yet!” The Satterthwaites were clearly smitten. For retired mine worker Stephen, 56, it was the mechanic’s garage for the cherished BSA Golden Flash motorcycle and FX Holden restored by his late father — plus an additional shed for crafting his metal sculptures — that caught his eye. Meanwhile, Belinda, 55, was entranced by the provenance of the property that incorporates two buildings. The first is the flour mill, which was built in 1850 and had drawn water from the river that babbles behind the garden. The second is Hargans Cottage — a 1920s three-bedroom weatherboard built on the footings of a demolished section of the mill. “We’ve renovated before, including an old stone house in Broken Hill that won heritage awards, but I’ve never owned a property that has really ever ‘been’ something,” Belinda says. “The mill has all the original floors, doors and beams — there are even names carved in the walls — so it has that sense of history we both love.” Nestled in a pretty valley at the bottom of a steep mount, road signs declare Carcoar as ‘The town time forgot’. Grand buildings from its gold-mining glory days have been classified by the National Trust and the Belubula River meanders through the centre, providing a scenic picnic spot for those who chance to stop halfway between Bathurst and Cowra. But the Satterthwaites had their own history to consider before making the move to Carcoar. In nearby Millthorpe — a village popular with weekend tourists and the couple’s home for 20 years — they had a house, guest accommodation and Belinda’s successful homewares store, Tomolly. Initially she and Stephen had planned to just sell their house and accommodation and open a second smaller store in Carcoar. However, Belinda decided that to simplify their lives and maintain the personal customer contact she loves, she would close the shop at Millthorpe and put her trust in Carcoar’s fledgling retail revival (see page 106 for more on Tomolly). “Now on my days off I have spare time to enjoy with Stephen,” she says. “We go for drives sourcing old wares for the store or I’m happy at home baking and just doing things I haven’t had time for over the past 10 years.” Hargans Cottage is now home to the couple’s children (Tom, 23, and Molly, 21), while Belinda and Stephen are ensconced in the mill. “It’s not something that would suit everyone but because our kids are older it was the perfect arrangement for us.” After crunching through the enclosed gravelled courtyard, inside the mill you’re met by a black steel staircase that leads to the bathroom and mezzanine-style main bedroom. >
“I lay here sometimes and have to pinch myself: ‘Is this really my house?’ Belinda says. “We were so lucky, we walked in and the bones of what I really love — black floors, white walls — were already here. It was my dream home.” Her second favourite spot is the combined kitchen-dining area — a light-filled extension built where the mill’s engine room had been. Seated at the large timber table, the couple look to the garden where pepper trees remind them of growing up in Broken Hill. “We met when we were just 15,” Belinda says. “We travelled around Australia for many years — Stephen worked in the mines and I was a nurse — but both our kids were born in Broken Hill.” However, sentimentality had no place when it came to decorating: “The mill has a more industrial feel so a lot of my furniture just didn’t suit.” Many pieces came from Tomolly and reflect Belinda’s minimalistic style but rustic elements, such as the bedside tables hewn from the flour mill’s old ironbark beams, are Stephen’s handiwork. As are the painstakingly constructed basalt rock walls in the garden and the creative sculptures he welds from old cutlery and scrap metal. Come summer, the couple look forward to dips in the river, long walks with Dusty, their energetic red heeler, and the slower pace their new home affords. “At night you can open up the windows and there is nothing more tranquil than the sound of water running on the rocks,” Belinda says. “It feels like you’re a million miles away from everything.” For more details, follow @tomolly_carcoar on Instagram, telephone 0417 426 472 or visit tomolly.com.au
Belinda Satterthwaite outside her husband Stephen’s workshop. He crafts sculptures out of old metal that are now sold in Belinda’s shop, Tomolly. FACING PAGE MRD Home pendants hang above a vase from Bison and Otti Made ceramics on the table from Stone Pony. Belinda fashioned the wreath from twisted grape vines. For stockist details, see page 143.