Written by Sibella Court
In 2013, I signed up for a dream job as host of Restoration Australia. With an Australian history degree under my belt and a great love of heritage trades and historical houses, this was a match made in heaven.
Over two and half years I followed the restoration of seven houses as the passionate families who owned these time capsules embarked on a journey of a lifetime. Not only was this about all things history & building process, it was an opportunity to visit some beautiful locations around Australia and really get to know them, the people and the surrounds.
While being a TV host is not my main job, the premise of the show aligned perfectly with the philosophy of my very own store The Society Inc and design studio. Our products are designed & crafted with the shared values of all those involved with the show including a deep appreciation of heritage trades, honest & humble materials, craftsmanship, age-old skills and a love of sourcing original building materials and vintage wares.
I shot largely on the weekends but it never really felt like work - I would naturally fall into lengthy conversations about hand-forged nails, pressed glass from the 1900s, hardwood timbers, pre-fab houses from the gold rush era - all these subjects and more I enjoyed immensely and experienced great joy in learning from other enthusiasts.
Established in 1853 by the Warwick family, Holowiliena is the only remaining pastoral property in Australia still owned by the original family. It would take me a full days travel to arrive a Holowiliena station - a flight to Adelaide, a small aircraft to Port Alfred then a 3-4 hour drive into the Flinders Ranges. This is a spectacular part of the world and still very much frontier country. It can be very, very dry but whilst I visited over 2 years Frances, Luke, Stella & Tod saw wild flowers! The first time they had shown their pretty faces in Frances' adult life.