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.
In Tarraville is three-and-a-half hours into Gippsland from Melbourne on one of the loveliest scenic drives - I always looked forward to this travel although it was a long one from Sydney! We would stay at the best B&B (a grouping of cabins, boat sheds & cottages just next door to the Marine Museum) called Rodondo, Port Albert. Run by the very clever Susan who is a collector of very specific sewing machines & the maker of the best breakfasts in the world!
Along the journey there was always time for a quick explore of this beautiful landscape. Look for the Heritage pear orchard signs in Toora where you can fill a brown paper bag for $8 of 60+ varieties and then head into town for the best Austrian strudel, located next door to the junk store, which kept my crew very, very happy This week meet the fabulous & energetic Jo, Marcus, Byron & Emerald of Woodcot Park built in 1855.