Jennifer StackhouseTasmanian garden shopping

We’ve long harboured a desire to live in a beautiful house and garden in Tasmania. It seemed like a dream – not something that would actually ever happen – but recently several things changed in our lives and we realised a big move could be a reality.

Barrington property

Barrington property

In quick succession my kids moved out of home, my husband retired (he had run a wholesale nursery on our property), I was made redundant from my job as editor at Gardening Australia magazine, and we sold our property here at Kurrajong.

part of the garden

Part of my new garden

As I am now a freelancer, I didn’t need to stay in Sydney for work and my husband just wants to garden and go trout fishing.

When news of our Sydney sale leaked out, friends in Tassie started emailing possible gardens. Inspired by what we saw (a mortgage-free future in a beautiful garden) we jumped on the computer to trawl the real estate websites for more options. Several possibilities appeared. Without too much more thinking we booked airfares to Launceston, a hire car and a charming bed and breakfast cottage for our three-day hunt.

Lovely established trees and shrubs

Lovely established trees and shrubs

We decided to focus on the northern part of Tasmania, searching west from Launceston and organised appointments with local real estate agents.

I didn’t think we’d find what we wanted straight away. Indeed the prudent part of me said we should be renting somewhere to make sure we liked the proposed new lifestyle and to be in a better position to find what we wanted. Living there too may give us time to better understand the Tasmanian market, but what was the harm in looking before things got too much colder?

vegetable garden

My new vegetable garden

A few home truths

While the real estate market is booming in Sydney and Melbourne and other parts of mainland Australia, the wave doesn’t appear to have reached Tasmania yet. Indeed, some people told us that prices hadn’t changed in northern Tasmania since 2008. Most of the agents we spoke to said that things had been very quite until the last few months and that some properties had begun to sell that had been on the market for a long time.

Tasmania is probably the cheapest place to buy in Australia – especially out of the main centres and away from the coast. Certainly there were lots of cottages for sale in our search zone from $200,000 to $350,000 but these didn’t have the garden or setting we wanted. Many of the more expensive houses we came across had been for sale for a long time.

Many desirable properties carry mainland price tags and are unlikely to be sold to a local resident. The owners of period houses know they are most likely to sell to a mainlander and are willing to sit out the year or two or more that it will take to find the right buyer.

What we saw

Longford House

Longford House

Longford House (a Georgian sandstone building) was a tad out of our price range, but there were lots more properties that weren’t.

We had decided on our list of boxes (to be ticked), which included a garden with an orchard and trees, good soil, water, a view, an interesting house in good condition and easy access to an airport.

We also wanted somewhere safe for our two dogs and clear of potential logging and mining, especially given the recent change of state government in the Apple Isle. A river or stream was optional, but not a deal breaker.

We crossed a charming Victorian cottage off the list when we discovered it was next door to a piggery but we loved the beautiful garden around a 1950s cottage. It ticked just about every box (including the stream). The garden had been on the market for over 15 months but the owner wasn’t interested in offers so we reluctantly moved on to leave him to wait for another mainland buyer to come along.

We also saw a 1970s house, completely and beautifully renovated indoors and set on 28 acres of land. I could see myself living there. It had pristine bushland, river frontage (with two large grassy meadows), a terraced garden and was just 40 minutes from Launceston airport. Then, to make it even harder to decide, we saw a renovated period house near Cressy (so, very close to the airport) set in a beautiful historic garden with a trufflery, vegetable gardens to die for, and the best potting shed I’ve ever seen.

We also found a woodland garden set in a hundred acres of grazing land but decided that, while it was romantic, it needed a lot of work and we stared longingly over the fence at an exquisite garden around a 1930s house in Deloraine.

The front garden

The front garden

Then we hit the jackpot – a Federation house set in an acre of established gardens near a tiny village and surrounded by grazing land. It is under 30 minutes to Devonport and about 80-90 minutes to Launceston airport (admittedly a bit further than we’d planned).

We made an offer, booked a building inspection and to our total amazement found ourselves owners (well, by the end of July when we settle) of a truly beautiful home in Tasmania.

View of Mt Roland to the south

View of Mt Roland to the south

We know Tassie is cold (in summer as well as winter), we know there’s water between us and the rest of Australia, and we know it won’t be easy to wave goodbye to friends and family and to this part of the world where we’ve lived for more than 20 years. But hey, there are no fruit fly or termites in Tassie and they don’t have foxes. I can grow peonies and clematis and harvest my own apples and greengages. And, if only a small percentage of the people who’ve booked our spare room turn up, we won’t have much time to miss our friends!

Our new orchard with (already) resident chook

Our new orchard with (already) resident chook

Now we just need to pack up, book the pugs on Jet Pets and find a home for four aged chooks and a bantam rooster.

Useful links

Our house in Barrington can be seen on Domain. The charming bed and breakfast cottage at Mole Creek is Blackwood Park. For the houses near Launceston contact Peter Stackhouse. For Wychwood at Mole Creek.

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Jennifer Stackhouse

About Jennifer Stackhouse

Recently Jennifer Stackhouse made the big move from Kurmond in NSW to a Federation house in the little village of Barrington tucked beneath Mt Roland in northwest Tasmania. With high rainfall, rich, red deep soil and a mild climate she reckons she's won the gardening lottery. She's taken on an acre garden that's been lovingly planted and tended for the past 28 years by a pair of keen gardeners so she is discovering a garden full of horticultural treasures. Jennifer is the author of several gardening books including 'Garden', which won a Book Laurel for 2013, as well as ‘The Organic Guide to Edible Gardens’, ‘Planting Techniques’ and ‘My Gardening Year’, which she wrote with her mother Shirley. She was editor of ABC 'Gardening Australia' magazine and now edits the trade journal 'Greenworld' magazine and writes regularly for the Saturday magazine in 'The Mercury'. She is often heard on radio and at garden shows answering garden queries.

19 thoughts on “Tasmanian garden shopping

  1. corridog on said:

    Lucky you. Enjoy the move.

  2. Congratulations Jennifer. It’s great to see you living out your dreams!

  3. Lenise Mcauliffe on said:

    Great to read the story on how it happened. So pleased for you both. I would seriously consider it, but Dan reckons its a no for him, he’d head north. But that’s not for me, we will have to see what happens. I’m seeing Doris next month as well as another girlfriend in Texas. All the best

  4. Holly on said:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Loved the blog on your new property. It looks and sounds just gorgeous. so many great gardens and lovely things to do in that part of Tasmania….not just auriculas, which I covet. Blue poppies
    too….
    Very best wishes,
    Holly

  5. Chris Rose on said:

    Oh boy, Jennifer and Jim, you’ve sure hit the jackpot here indeed!!

    A beautiful, large house with interesting outbuildings (man caves), delightful gardens and lawns aplenty for the pugs to race around. Very happy for you both 🙂

  6. Tassie looks a gardener’s paradise. You’ll fit right in, Jennifer and your new home looks divine. Great life change and a tonic for the empty nest blues. Best of luck …. and good reason also to take up knitting.

  7. What a wonderful adventure you’re just about to embark on! Best wishes.

  8. Lovely story about a grand plan, good onya! I’ve always loved Tassie for all the reason you have mentioned. I decided to move to Tassie or Adelaide from Melbourne many years ago, ended up in the magnificent Adelaide Hills and I have never regretted one second….now I just visit the apple isle

  9. Liz Gower on said:

    You and your husband will be welcomed with open arms here in Barrington. You’ve got neighbours that love gardening. You’ll not be short of friends. Looking forward to meeting you!

    • Jennifer Stackhouse on said:

      So lovely of you to put out the welcome mat and I look forward to meeting you when we get to Barrington in July. Jennifer

  10. Jocelyn on said:

    You are gonna love it! Tenderly cared for and renovated by my lovely sister and bro in law, over many years of blood sweat and tears! Enjoy!

    • Jennifer Stackhouse on said:

      Thank you Jocelyn! We are planning to catch up with Margaret and Ian this Saturday so they can walk us through all the details of this wonderful house and garden. We are really looking forward to seeing the property again.
      Best wishes
      Jennifer

  11. Fan on said:

    The most beautiful home of my cousins, where my sister and I had a most treasured Christmas in Dec. ’12…The house is absolutely gorgeous, the gardens stunning and the vegetable garden was frequented daily to pick buckets of raspberries of which I could not get enough… Congratulations, you will revel in the peace and beauty of this lovely property.

    • Jennifer Stackhouse on said:

      Looking forward to those raspberries!
      Jennifer

  12. Emlyn Walter Cruickshank on said:

    It is heartening to know that the house and garden that was the backdrop to my childhood (and that my parents just sold to you!), has gone to someone with such deep appreciation for it. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your retirement there.

    • Jennifer Stackhouse on said:

      Not really retirement but really looking forward to working in a new location with the house and garden to keep us occupied too. Thank you for your kind words.
      Best wishes
      Jennifer

  13. Chrystal Martin on said:

    You have certainly picked a Winner. It is a few years since I have visited my Cousin Margaret and her husband Ian and I have not been able to appreciate the renovations they have done, lots of pictures have been sent to me, but it is better to see it “in the flesh” so to speak. I stayed with them when they first started renovating, and as I live in Victoria I have not been able to visit as much as I would like. You will certainly enjoy your lifestyle now. Lots of Fresh Air.

  14. George Walter on said:

    You won`t be sorry Jennifer. Go outside at night in the crisp highland air and listen to the silence. Pure bliss .Bet you love that impressive staircase to Bron`s room made meticulously by my clever brother in law. Good gardening and hedge clipping.

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