Lachie Morrison grew up on Woolbrook Homestead — a heritage-listed property in Teesdale, located 30-minutes west of Geelong, Victoria.
The homestead was originally built in 1856 for pastoralist and first editor of the Geelong Advertiser, James Bell, before a new owner commissioned a two-storey Federation-style extension in 1901. The extension burnt down in 1906 (legend has it the farm manager rode in on a horse and shot holes into a water tank to save the original wing!), but was soon rebuilt in a very different Californian bungalow style that remains today.
Lachie returned to Woolbrook in 2018 to help his dad sell the property, but he didn’t go far! ‘Luckily, the new owner was not interested in the land or homestead and leased it back to us,’ explains Anise Boulot, Lachie’s partner and manager of Woolbrook’s events and accommodation. ‘We moved into the homestead at Woolbrook as just the two of us at the beginning of 2019.’
The couple signed a 10-year lease that allows them to make changes to the property. After hosting several private gatherings, they quickly saw the potential of the homestead as a boutique accommodation and events venue.
‘In the dining room, surrounded by all that history, it made us think that Lachie’s ancestors would have been hosting their friends and family there for over a century,’ says Anise. ‘It made us realise what fun others would have in the house too.’
Anise and Lachie set to work stripping spaces back to their original bones and furnishings, including the grand piano that was saved in the 1906 fire. Carpets were pulled up, floorboards polished, and rooms painted. ‘I think we learned pretty quickly that everything took a lot longer than we thought it would!’ says Anise.
Interior stylist Belle Hemming of Belle Bright Project was brought in for the final touches, placing her signature luxury rustic stamp on the decor. ‘It’s the best combination of luxury and homeliness you will find in a natural setting,’ says Anise. ‘It offers a gathering place for young and old, just as its style is a combination of new and historic.’
Woolbrook Homestead welcomed its first guests post-renovation in 2021. Anise and Lachie still live in the house (when not rented as accomodation), as well as working on the farm and managing events on site.
‘Running a farm and hosting events and accommodation keeps us very busy!’ says Anise. ‘We are able to work with each other really well. Sometimes Lachie is on a mop in the homestead getting ready for guests, and sometimes I’m out doing sheep work. Keeps life interesting!’