‘The delight of living in a small country town is something that I find really difficult to put into words,’ says Upland Farm owner Shelley Kennedy.
‘From waking up overlooking the paddocks, to picking produce in the orchard, watching the girls live a carefree childhood and being welcomed into this beautiful community.’
But the women’s health physiotherapist and her husband Tyrone — an engineer and builder — didn’t grow up in the country. Through their 20s they started regularly visiting their ‘farming friends’ who lived on properties near their now-home in Denmark, about 40 minutes’ drive from Albany, Western Australia.
‘We became so curious of their rural lifestyle, the community that surrounds them, their humble characters and the simplicity but also the resilience that is needed to live off the land,’ Shelley explains.
They gave themselves a 6-year plan to work towards paying off their mortgage in Perth, so the couple and their two young daughters could move to the region. By 2018, they had bought a 107-acre property with nothing more than just a small shed and cattle yard on it, and began the huge undertaking of building their own family home on the property — in addition to a series of four guest cabins that would allow them to share the scenic region with visitors.
‘There was no power, running water or septic systems, so it was a huge project from the get-go,’ Shelley says. With the help of Tyrone’s company, Alcove Construction and Engineering, and design practice LaHaus, they recently completed the property’s one-bedroom studios Wren and Forest. The two-bedroom cabins Dune and Vine, were constructed earlier in 2020.
The buildings are inspired by the simple architecture of the classic Australian shed. Inside, warm tones and textural interiors nod to the farmlands and the Great Southern region’s rugged coastline, inviting guests to unwind and experience everything that Shelley and Tyrone love about country living — even just for a few nights.
Sustainability was another key focus at the project, harnessing natural materials like concrete, brushed stone and slate to ensure each escape was passively designed to take advantage of the temperamental weather systems of Denmark. The cabins’ rustic woodfires use timber from fallen trees from the property, while 350,000 litre water tanks provide rainwater to each of the properties.
‘The expansive windows enhance the resounding beauty of the farmland, rolling valleys and neighbouring vineyards allowing our guests to feel completely immersed into the landscape,’ Shelley adds. ‘The outlook enhanced by our inquisitive herd grazing in the nearby paddocks.’
‘Every day and every stay is completely unique at the farm and we love that our guests are returning in different seasons to experience this change.’