OUR RURAL RETREAT | Taste of the tropics
By Kirsty McKenzie, photography Anastasia Kariofyllidis
Hairdressing is practically a performance art as it requires constant social interaction, attention to detail, creativity and good listening and communication skills. No client wants a stylist to have an “off day”, so it’s also a pretty unforgiving profession. So it was hardly surprising back in the early 2000s when Newstead stylists Graham Young and Glenn Rogerson decided they needed an escape from their workaday world.
Glenn is a keen gardener, so their search for a bolthole from the busyness of Brisbane led pretty promptly to the rich volcanic slopes of the BlackallRange in the SunshineCoast hinterland. “One weekend we went for a drive to Montville and saw a property,” Graham recalls. “By the next weekend we’d bought it.”
While they were very happy with their weekender in the historic village, it was on a steeply sloping site. So 11 years ago they started searching for a new property and found what they were looking for on the outskirts of Maleny, a slightly larger service town for the surrounding dairy country with a solid core of alternative lifestylers and a strong food and creative culture.
“Basically we traded the views to the coast that we had at Montville, for the space of two and a half acres at Maleny,” Graham says. “We were so captivated by the mature trees and potential for a garden that we almost didn’t notice that the house was actually quite ugly.”
But good stylists make the most of what they have and Glenn and Graham set to work transforming the 60s house with a complete makeover. New carpets and timber floors, an extra bathroom, a remodelled kitchen, fresh paint throughout and plantation shutters went a long way to creating the sub-tropical paradise they now enjoy.
They then coloured in the details by adding paintings from an art collection acquired across the 40-plus years they have been together. “We’ve been together a long time, so it’s not surprising we’ve built up quite a repository,” Graham says. “We buy a lot of Aboriginal art from Fireworks Gallery in Brisbane and we’ve also developed an interest in abstract landscapes by visiting galleries in Sydney and Melbourne.”
Prized pieces in their collection include paintings by Utopia artist Minnie Pwerle, East Kimberley artist Rover Thomas, and numerous works from the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands of north-western South Australia. The cool white interiors provide a great backdrop for these works and other paintings and sculptures and contribute the house’s atmosphere of an oasis of calm.
Glenn and Graham divide their time between the city and their retreat and some weeks manage five consecutive nights at Maleny. Most mornings will find Glenn in the garden, which he has transformed into a lush respite from the sometimes stifling heat down on the coast or back in Brisbane. “Glenn has assistance one day a week,” Graham says. “But most of the propagating, particularly of hydrangeas, he does on his own.”
The garden also boasts a significant orchard, which keeps the couple in oranges, mandarins, limes, cumquats, pecans and macadamias and a sizeable vegie garden, which supplies Asian greens, herbs, chillies and other produce Graham likes to use in the kitchen.
“We’re lucky that there are a number of really good cafes and restaurants in the area,” Graham adds. “Most of them keep to a pretty strict 100-kilometre radius for sourcing their ingredients. We often head to Shotgun Espresso in town for good coffee and ethically-produced food and The Tamarind at Spicers Retreat is another favourite. The Spirit House is about 20 minutes drive away. But to be honest, we come up here to relax and more often than not, we’re just happen to open a bottle of wine, invite a few friends over and relax at home. There really is this wonderful feeling when you drive up from Brisbane, that you can just shut the gate on the world and totally relax.”
As Brisbane is only 90km away, Graham adds that they will probably continue to divide their time between the two homes for the foreseeable future. “I still enjoy working, so I’m not really to move up here permanently just yet,” he says. “We have good networks and a great lifestyle in both places, so for the time being, we’ll continue to enjoy the best of both worlds.”