Escape to the Country
September 24 2021
Tucked away in a lush valley just outside of Bangalow, this timeless estate offers the best of country life with beautiful beaches and vibrant villages just down the road.
FORMER Sydney banker Bart Elias wasn’t looking to buy a house, much less a farm, when he skipped town for a Byron Bay beach break in the winter of 2004.
That all changed when he happened across a secluded country estate set on 36 acres in picturesque Brooklet, located 7km south of Bangalow and 20 minutes from Byron Bay.
“I bought the property, resigned from my job in Sydney and moved up here,” says Bart.
Set well back from the road in a lush valley, the peace and privacy of 826 Friday Hut Road holds huge appeal. But it was the timeless design and character of the residences that sold Bart.
Built in the early 90s, the classic country manor draws inspiration from Colonial and European architecture to convey a timeless beauty while bespoke fixtures lend a one-off kind of charm.
Handlaid stone, rendered masonry and solid timber provide structural longevity to the main residence and an adjoining retreat, which sit in total harmony within their rural surrounds.
The design is the work of renowned local designer Ron Johnson whose extensive portfolio includes iconic residences such as Picadilly House at Coopers Shoot and the Broken Head barn-style retreat commissioned by tennis ace Pat Rafter.
“This area is the Tuscany of Australia in my view,” says Ron, who designed and built his first stone house as a visionary teenager in the late seventies.
“The beauty of this area deserves homes that are a legacy to the land on which they’re built. We have a responsibility to build homes that belong, now and forever.
“This is a design that you could put anywhere in the world and it would hold its own.”
Casement windows and French doors invite light in and allow for an easy escape to the wraparound verandah with no shortage of vantage points from which to survey the nature all around.
A cathedral ceiling supported by exposed timber beams draws the eye inside the main living area while floorboards salvaged from a Sydney warehouse inject warmth and character.
A few years into his residency Bart invited Ron to revisit his original design with a brief to expand the existing residences to allow more space for a growing family and their guests.
The main residence offers four bedrooms and an extended dining room, a secondary adjacent residence has a kitchen, laundry, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, while a separate leisure house has a rumpus room with bar, a bedroom and bathroom.
“It’s a very liveable house and one that’s great for hosting guests,” says Bart.
“I’ve had 30 people here at any one time, mostly the kids and their friends. Quite often I’ve had people stay here and I don’t see them for two or three days.
“It’s also a great house for entertaining too because you have lots of different areas.”
Fireplaces in each of the main living rooms make for cosy winter evenings, while the property comes into its own during summer with a resort-style pool, sandstone cabana complete with pizza oven, a wide dam and Skinners Creek to cool off in.
Self-sufficiency is entirely possible in this rural haven with a 92 megalitre water licence, established garden beds growing a variety of leafy greens, vegetables, fruit and herbs and custom-designed twin chicken coops offering a ready supply of eggs.
When you are ready to venture out, Newrybar village is just up the road where locals converge on Harvest bakery, delicatessen and restaurant, while all the conveniences and atmosphere of Bangalow are a short 10 minutes drive away.
“Once you drive in that gate, you’re in your own world,” says Bart. “But you can be on the beach in Byron or Broken head in 20 minutes. There really is nowhere quite like it.”