Creating her own unique farm stay has been a dream of reno queen Naomi Findlay’s for as long as she can remember and she’s finally done it! You won’t believe what she started with to create what is now a comfortable, stylish and peaceful country escape at Waukivory Estate! And we’re excited to exclusively bring you the first episode of a video series following the progress.
Naomi has done countless renos, but this one is special. It’s more than buildings; it’s about creating an experience for many other people to enjoy too. “This is my dream project because it’s creating a destination. As we move through the project, it’s about creating experiences. I want people to create memories when they come to stay, whether that be singing happy birthday on the deck overlooking the mountains, watching their dog playing in the creek or being able to bring their horses on a holiday with them. Or it might be getting to visit some of the amazing things I plan to build there or meet our beautiful donkeys.”
Waukivory Estate is in the midst of dairy and cattle country and 20 minutes from the heart of Gloucester, being the closest town to Barrington. Just three hours north of Sydney, at the same time if you head east, it is just over an hour to the popular Seal Rocks and Blueys Beach.
Ever since she was a little girl, Naomi dreamed of owning a B&B and baking scones for visitors! Then, 2.5 years ago, she decided to try and make it a reality. But the rundown farm buildings were certainly not picture perfect. “I’m a sucker for something that’s broken and for re-energising and reimagining things; anything that involves injecting positivity, personality and kindness into a space.”
The previous owners had fled over a decade before as they were ageing and had discovered extensive termites. “Afterwards, the husband passed away and the wife was unable to sell it because it reminded her so much of their time together. To be shown this property and then to be entrusted with this property and the dreams and memories that it held for the previous owner was kind of an honour. All around the property you see evidence of the type of man husband was. You know he loved to tinker with cars and he was a farmer who loved fixing things.”
Most people would have been overwhelmed by the scale of the restoration required, but not Naomi! “It was actually the structures and their state of disrepair and all the relics of the life people had had in them that was left there that inspired me! I imagined the bell on the back door being rung for lunch and the kids climbing the trees. Even though getting out all the old leftover belongings was a huge task, it truly helped me see that this was once a place of life and laughter.”
The surrounding landscape was a clincher too; the hills, the view of the valley, the rambling creek. “I remember the first time I saw the property (as she took some hard work to buy), standing in the long grass breathing in the silence thinking if I love her enough and give her all the energy I have, I know it will be amazing.”
She couldn’t do it alone though, teaming up with construction partner Josh Ferris of Ferris Building. “He loves to build and, deep down below his pro surfer façade, he is a full tilt farm boy! Our skill sets are directly opposite to one another so we are a perfect partnership but we both overlap in that we are very determined (that is the kind way of saying crazy stubborn when it comes to getting the outcome we want!), hands on and believe 100 percent in the vision.”
Finishing the project as lockdowns continue around the country has of course been disappointing, but Naomi is confident that once people can, they’ll be desperate to enjoy a domestic escape like this, especially as international borders will no doubt be closed for a while longer.
“Families, singles, groups of friends, dog owners and horse lovers (once the stables are done) will love this place,” she says. “From Christmas, we will be able to sleep 16, so it’s also ideal for retreats and events.”
More than anything, Naomi wants guests to feel like they are going back to a more simple time, with simple country comforts; a place that feels like home to them and hugs them when they walk in.”
We hope you enjoy the video below, which tells the full story of the first part of the transformation. And stay turned for next week’s reveals: two bathrooms completed on a serious budget!
CHAT TO NAOMI & JEN! We’re going live on Instagram for a chat at 7.30pm next Tuesday 24 August! Join us to ask Naomi any questions about Waukivory, renovating rundown buildings, renovating for holiday accommodation, bathrooms on a budget or anything else you fancy! Or send your questions in advance to [email protected]