Siblings Brad and Laura, along with their partners Mindy and Mack never imagined that weeks after purchasing their dream property they would be fighting bushfires and then dealing with a global pandemic. Below is their story written by them accompanied by photos from a styled shoot by some amazing South Coast Wedding peeps. Scroll down for credits. Enjoy!
"We happened upon The Barn for sale while driving out to hike Pigeon House mountain for the first time back in early 2019. The four of us, (Brad and Laura, siblings from Sydney’s Northern Beaches and their partners, Mindy and Mack from America and Canada) had developed a bit of a love affair with the South Coast over the past few years. We would escape down here whenever possible and were all ready for a change from the city’s hustle and bustle.
We had always dreamed of a piece of land by the coast, and seeing The Barn and it’s ‘For Sale’ sign had our minds racing with the possibilities it offered.
To put it lightly, the property needed some love (like a lot), and we knew that we were taking on a huge project but we could see the potential it held and knew that together we had the skills to make it work.
The negotiations and settlement process ended up spanning most of the year, but in the end we found ourselves happily relocated to the South Coast and living on the property of our dreams.
We were three weeks into this dream when the Currowan Fire started.
It seems so clear now, but at the time none of us were really prepared for the extent to which the fires would affect us. We, like so many others, would live through weeks of waiting and watching, becoming increasingly familiar with the weather forecasts and wind patterns and spending countless nights waking regularly to check that all was still well.
We had a number of close calls. The fire burned through neighbours to our southern, western and eastern boundaries, before being redirected by the wind or contained at the last minute each time. There was a point where, when you looked at the fire map, you would see our property completely encircled by the fire zone but still unburnt. We felt as though we were living on a little fire island.
We had been deep into our renovations when the fires had begun and after the initial shock faded, we just had to get back at it, doing our best to work around roadblocks and material delays.
It wasn’t uncommon for friendly neighbours or the RFS to stop in and find us in the middle of one project or another. The dialogue was always the same: “You know that there’s a fire X km away don’t you?” They would ask us.
Of course we did, but in our minds we were as prepared as we could be for the fire’s impact and in the meantime we couldn’t afford to wait around for it to happen.
Unfortunately, with all of this going on, we didn’t yet have Council’s final sign off for the approval of our Barn. We had purchased the property knowing that work remained before we could apply for this approval. What this meant though, was that the building which we had invested so much in was uninsured for the duration of the fire season.
This was one of the big reasons that when the fire finally did burn through or property, we stayed back to do what we could to fight it.
We were lucky that day. The same winds which kept us safe wreaked havoc upon our neighbours taking homes, vehicles and sheds and while we did lose fencing and a couple of outbuildings, both our house and commercial space were safe. A neighbour later told us he had clocked the wind at 92 kilometers per hour.
The strange sense of relief that came with surviving the burn was immense. We’d spent so many weeks living with background tension, wondering when it would be our turn, and now that we had burned and were safe, we were paralysed by guilt, knowing that so many others had not been so lucky. It took time before we felt we could move forwards.
Since then we feel as though we have finally been able to make good headway with our venue. All our compliance works have been completed and signed off and the interior of the Barn has been transformed into what is now a warm and inviting rustic space.
We have painted the exterior of the building and removed a low awning which has worked wonders to transform the Barn into the venue that we envisaged. This along with several other projects such as the construction of a new jetty for our dam, beautiful horse fencing along the driveway and replanting the garden have had a huge impact in making us feel as though our vision is taking shape.
Currently, with Covid restrictions in effect we are taking advantage of the time to continue to make improvements and begin pursing a number of eco-friendly accommodation options where guests can stay and experience the serenity for themselves.
While we are still working hard to fulfill our vision with The Barn On The Ridge, we feel as if Covid is giving us the gift of time to enjoy the fruits of our labor while we continue to make strides.
Our short journey so far at The Barn has included fires, floods and now a global pandemic, yet we feel as though the silver linings of these events have been immeasurable in their value. We have forged strong friendships and now feel at home within this beautiful South Coast community. And while we may have had to delay our grand opening twice so far, we know that when the time comes we can count on the support of so many people around us.
We feel so lucky to have landed here on the South Coast with our Barn On The Ridge, it really is heaven on earth."
Brad, Laura, Mindy and Mack
Mobile Bar: Hello Huey Caravan