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A Rustic Farmhouse Lodge In The Blue Mountains

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Nestled in 100 acres of rambling farmland and surrounded by dramatic sandstone cliffs, Warramba is an updated shearer’s cottage that makes for the most idyllic holiday oasis. Newly renovated by owners Neil Varcoe and Edwina Bartholomew, the rejuvenated pre-Federation homestead was opened up to guests in 2018.

With a wraparound verandah, an abundance of wildlife and a timber camping deck at the top of the property (aka the perfect sunset viewing spot), does a country retreat get better than this?

26th April, 2021

Warramba is a newly updated shearer’s cottage surrounded by 100 acres of farmland and sheer sandstone cliffs. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The original sandstone shearer’s cottage is believed to have been built in the 1890s. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The original farmer’s lodgings have been retained, with mostly cosmetic updates made to the interiors. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

A wrap-around verandah makes the most of the heavenly views. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

Melbourne firm Studio Esteta were engaged to help with the interior layout. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The plan was to retain the rambling country charm as much as possible, which they achieved! Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The house sleeps eight people across three generous bedrooms. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

A fully functional kitchen makes for an easy stay. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

Country sunlight streams through the windows in the main bedroom. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

Edwina chose all the furnishings and finishes herself to ensure the house exuded the exact ambience she desired. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

A clean and minimalist palette creates a relaxing feel indoors, and allows the original bones of the house to shine. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

Shutters cement the rustic country vibe. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The dam is situated within perfect viewing distance of the cottage so that residents can easily see the wildlife that flock around it. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The 100-acre property had been completely overgrazed when Neil and Edwina purchased the property in 2016. They immediately removed all the livestock and let the land rest for 6 months. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

In that time, they worked with neighbouring farms and BirdLife NSW to regenerate the land and encourage wildlife to repopulate the property. They planted 5,000 trees as part of the process. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

Eight shaggy Highland cows are new roaming residents. Photo – Airlie Walsh.

The timber camping deck at the top of the property makes for a great observation platform. Check out those sunset views over the Blue Mountains! Photo – Airlie Walsh.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 26th April 2021

‘It’s very rewarding to see these trees towering over us now and the land and the creek that runs through the property slowly regenerating.’ – Edwina Bartholomew

After taking possession of this scenic property in the Blue Mountains in 2016, journalist and TV presenter Edwina Bartholomew and her partner Neil Varcoe spent the first few years focussed on renovating the farmhouse building, and tending to the land on the rundown property.

‘There was a green tree frog living in the loo and a garden hose connecting the tank to the house,’ remembers Edwina. ‘Like many renovators, if we knew how much work there was to do, we probably would never have started.’

The land had been overgrazed for many years and was in very tired condition. Neil and Edwina promptly removed all live stock for six months in order to rest the ground, and planted nearly 5,000 trees with the help of their neighbours and BirdLife NSW, to boost the site’s natural rehabilitation.

‘It’s very rewarding to see these trees towering over us now and the land and the creek that runs through the property slowly regenerating,’ says Edwina. The couple renamed the regenerated property ‘Warramba‘ and began to think about sharing its 100 acres of rolling land and wildlife with other guests.

The cottage was originally a shearer’s cottage and built out of sandstone from a nearby quarry in the 1800s. Given its rustic charm, Edwina and Neil resisted making too many changes – only what was necessary to bring the house into a liveable, 21st century standard.

They engaged Melbourne firm, Studio Esteta to advise on the updated design, structural layout and fixtures, and then local builders, Pirie Homes, to complete the renovation. The house now comfortably sleeps eight people across three bedrooms, with French doors and shuttered windows opening to the natural surrounds. From there, Edwina chose all the furnishings – right down to the antique Japanese fabrics in the living room! Other luxuries include the newly expanded bathroom, which contains a shower, bath and overhead skylight that floods the room with natural light.

According to Edwina, the two most idyllic spots on the property are the gorgeous wrap-around verandah, which offers a great view of the dam that kangaroos congregate around in the morning; and the swag deck at the top of the property – a standalone timber platform perched on a hill, which can be used for camping or simply a viewing spot to light a fire and watch the sunset over the rolling hills. Picture perfect!

Book a stay at Warramba here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net