A pair of scientists left behind bustling city life to head home to Ipswich, a Queensland city with the ambience of a big country town, and pulled out all the stops on a huge renovation.

Lakemba is perched grandly on Denmark Hill, an area rich in history and brimming with old homes in varying states of repair. Many have been skillfully restored, and a drive along Chelmsford Avenue will have lovers of Federation-era architecture enraptured. But that was certainly not what Simone and her husband, Jason, felt when they first spotted Lakemba for sale.

_79A9793 _79A9745-2

“The roof needed replacing, there was rot in the decorative timber features on the verandah and even in some structural areas,” Simone recalls. “The garden terraces were falling apart and significantly overgrown. Access was not safe and it was far from what I would have called an ideal place to raise children.”

But through the cracks and wear, Simone and Jason could see something that niggled away at their better judgement and compelled them to sign up for what would end up being four years of painstaking renovation. “On our last inspection Jason took a photo of myself and our then three-year-old son, Lucas, wandering around the home,” she says. “This image jelled with our family. We knew it was meant to be.”

_79A9819 _79A9851-2

Lakemba was built in 1902 by a local Ipswich builder, William Betts, for his own family. He certainly scored one of the best vantage points in what was then a bustling regional centre of commerce, coal mining and industry, and Simone suspects he held nothing back in creating an enviable haven in Queensland’s second town.

Close to the original business centre of Ipswich, the home attracted a well-known mercantile family, The Cribbs, in the 1930s. They called Lakemba home for almost 50 years.

_79A9942 _79A9909jpg

The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 20.2. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

Click here for more farm life stories.

Words Tamara Simoneau
Photography John Downs

More Like This

Douglas Blain

The Extraordinary Journey of Douglas Blain: Preserving the Past with Passion

Douglas Blain’s remarkable life has been devoted to rescuing old buildings and turning them into boutique hotels.

Montville Mist Springwater

The Collins’ Montville Mist Springwater Success

Alli and Peter Collins juggle raising a family and running, Montville Mist Springwater from their home in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Paper Pocket Australiana

Our Top 10 Favourite Calendars and Diaries to Kick Start Your 2024

Discover Australia’s favourite range of 2024 Calendars and Diaries from Paper Pocket. Keep track of your year, organise your appointments, plan your […]

Date & Ginger Bundt Cake

Date & Ginger Bundt Cake Recipe

This date and ginger bundt cake is an adaptation of my mum’s much-loved sticky date pudding recipe.

Lemon Cake Recipe

Weekday Lemon Cake Recipe

A (very) simple melt-and-mix number, perfect for when a lemon cake is in order, but fuss is not. A while ago, […]

Visitors Paradise Home

Turning a 1929 Home into a Visitors Paradise

Aussie wildlife and mushroom foragers are among the many visitors to Sue and Tony Johnson’s paradise home in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills.

Heritage Home Renovation

A Heritage Home Renovation Back to the Origins

After almost three decades of renovations, Darren and Sue Turner have returned their 111-year-old home to what it once was.


Seduced by Simplicity: A Kiama Transformation

Michael and Michele Bell turned a Kiama beach house from the sixties into a stunning seaside home that’s too good to leave.

Follow Us on Instagram