03-Jul-2009 | How a trip to one tiny corner of Tasmania turned into a life changing mission to move across the globe and create a masterpiece.
When British tourists Virginia Cowie and Phillippa Denne visited the Freycinet Peninsula in 2000 it was a life changing experience.
So strong was their appreciation of the place, that their short stay marked the beginning of a two year mission for Australian residency, the purchase of a stunning piece of farm land and the creation of a tourism masterpiece – Mt Paul on Freycinet.
Opened on Sunday the 26th April by Heather Butler MP, the new tourism property has 360 degree views of Freycinet’s signature emerald green waters and pink hazards. The Arc and Barn function venues, part funded by a Tourism Promotion Plan grant, have been designed and project managed by Phillippa and Virginia, the owners of Mt Paul, acting as “owner builders”.
“Mt Paul is contiguous with the Freycinet National Park, with the sites for both venues overlooking the peninsula, so it was important that the buildings should belong to, and live up to the landscape. Hence the colours and shapes have been chosen to blend with the landscape, whilst at the same time taking best advantage of the views.” Said Ms.Cowie.
“The views from the Arc extend from the Tasman Sea to Great Oyster Bay, and the site offers a particularly good vantage point for watching the ever changing colours of the Hazard Mountain range. The Barn looks West over the Swan River Estuary to the Eastern Tiers, so the views are spectacular at sunset.”
“The Arc can accommodate up to 120 people in a formal function room measuring 180 sq m, with associated toilets and commercial kitchen (including a cold room). It is ideal for weddings, gala dinners, corporate gatherings or association meetings.”
“The Barn meanwhile is more rustic, having barbecues, wood fired pizza oven and fire pit, and is designed to accommodate groups of up to 40 for a function, or 24 for overnight camping in a purpose built standing camp. Allied to the Barn is an orienteering course. The flexible use of the Barn makes it suitable for a whole range of activities including weddings, corporate getaways, training, or incentive programs.”
“Also at Mt Paul is some accommodation consisting of one original cabin (Saltwater Shack) and two purpose-built cabins or Lodges. Viewed as a whole, Mt Paul can provide a comprehensive range of facilities for a destination wedding or retreat.”
“We emigrated from the UK to Mt Paul in 2002 following a holiday to Tasmania two years earlier. We absolutely fell in love with the State and began to dream about moving here. An internet search turned up a large property in Freycinet promising grazing and wood production, but it also had views. Following a couple of visits, we had put our suburban bungalow on the market and had signed a contract to buy Mt Paul.”
“Swapping court shoes for Blunnies, and tailor made suits for T shirts, we now accessorise with tools and have learnt to tackle everything from chain-sawing to tractor driving. The previous owner taught us some bush skills, and over a couple of years we learned to live with a 19kb/s radiophone over which any email attachment became a major project, and hot water heated by a temperamental woodstove.”
“We conceived of a development plan for Mt Paul, some of which has been realized in the form of the two accommodation units, a house, and more lately the two venues and the standing camp.”
“All of these have been constructed with environmentally sustainable design principles in mind, a low impact theme that has run through the development of a property which would otherwise have been in primary production, but which has now been restored as a haven for wildlife.”
There is still scope for further development, so to progress things further, Virginia and Phillippa will be looking for investors.
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