Alli and Peter Collins juggle raising a family and running a company from their Montville home in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
When Alli and Peter Collins moved to Montville in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, they took to the area like ducks to water — quite literally as it was the region’s water that led them there in the first place. “You could say we’re water snobs,” Alli chuckles.
The couple arrived in the rural town in 2002 to purchase the company Montville Mist Springwater. During that time, they were living near the Gold Coast in Tamborine, about two hours’ south of Montville. Alli was working in banking and Peter was a “jack of all trades”, starting out as an auto electrician and spending some time out west droving and fencing, before returning to electrical work. At the time, the pair had been together for almost 20 years, having met while growing up. “We heard the company was up for sale through family and, although we were quite happy living in Tamborine, when we arrived here, it was just beautiful,” Alli says. “And we were captivated by the quality of the spring water and the unique, pristine location.”
So, to save the two-hour commute, they relocated to the town of Maleny, about 15 kilometres south of Montville, and ran the business from there. Then in 2009, they decided to move to the cottage situated next to the springs in Montville. “The springs are located on the north side of the property and they’re gravity-fed down to the house and to the bottling facility we have down the front of the property,” Alli explains. “You can hear it just constantly running and overflowing into a spring-fed dam behind the house and then that overflows feeding the Obi Obi Gorge National Park in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. We bottle it here at the source and deliver it fresh daily. It is drinkable straight from the spring.
“According to the quantity analysis of the spring water that has been done, it takes on the natural minerals from the underground rock formations, which can take decades to accomplish. The average spring water age is around 70 years old when it rises to the surface and the whole property is serviced by spring water only.”
Situated on 17 acres (6.8 hectares), the original home on the block was a three-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage, however with the Collins’ three children, Riley, now aged 19, Jet, 15, and Macy, 10, continually growing, the family decided to renovate and extend two years ago. They now have a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home. “We realised we needed a bit more space and we desperately needed a laundry,” Alli says. “Previously, we would have to cross the verandah to get into the kitchen and the bathroom. We have connected the whole house now, so you do not have to chuck on the Eskimo suit to run across the verandah in winter. It has changed the way we live.”
Other additions to the house include a large dining area, second lounge room, a back verandah, an office and a master bedroom with ensuite. The Collins have also reroofed and repainted the exterior. The renovations took five months to complete, and the family stayed living and working in the house the entire time. “At some points, there were no walls, we had no power some nights and we had bats flying through the house,” Alli says. “But we loved being here to watch it unfold.”
The design of the interiors was Alli’s vision. “That’s what I enjoy doing,” she says. “That’s why I love Australian Country and home magazines. I love painting. Painting walls and furniture relaxes me. When we first moved in, it was all really dark. I wanted to brighten and freshen everything up.” Alli’s handiwork includes a tall cabinet she painted white next to the dining table, as well as the coffee table and sideboard. Many of the furniture items throughout the home were custom-made, several of which were created by local designer Lee Brennan, including the entertainment unit, bookshelves, bathroom vanity and the side tables in the master bedroom. Others are antiques sourced form the many shops in the local village, as well as homewares and soft furnishings purchased from around the region.
Perched on the Blackall Range in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Montville is famed for its cool climate and lush, fertile land. Meanwhile, the quaint village is home to several boutique stores and art galleries and studios. The Collins’ home is surrounded by rainforest, so most of the land is self-sufficient, however Peter mows and maintains about five acres (two hectares), while Alli focuses on the gardening. “I love roses,” she says. “I have been putting in more and more every year. I particularly love Montville roses.
They have the most amazing scent, the smell is like no other rose, and they have lovely, soft-pink petals.”
When the Collins aren’t working hard maintaining the business and family home, they love exploring Australia together as a family. “We went on a trip around Australia in 2017 in a caravan and just had the time of our lives,” Alli says. “We went through NSW down through Lightning Ridge, Broken Hill, up through Coober Pedy, Darwin, Uluru, up to Kakadu then over to Broome, down the West Coast, across to Nullarbor, through the southern states, then back home. We made sure we stopped once a week at places with Wi-Fi so we could check in on the business. We travelled for six months, and it worked out to about 30,000km. It was so much fun, and we’re ready to do it again!
And that is the hopeful plan, to hook up the caravan once more and take a trip on four wheels around the country very soon.
Photography Anasastasia Karifyllidis, Styling Lara Cross