Situated on Waterview, a working sheep farm of 440 hectares that doubles as a conservation sanctuary, John Wardle’s award-winning Shearers Quarters is the perfect backdrop to our homage to wool.
Photography by Will Braden.
The Shearers’ Quarters first becomes visible as you travel down the long and winding dirt driveway; the corrugated galvanised iron exterior a nod to Australia’s agricultural history. The contemporary structure sits next to the property’s original house that has recently been reworked by Wardle, built in 1840 by mariner Captain James Kelly. The property, says John Wardle, “is a precious place we treat with respect.”
Slender on the west end before opening to a broader gallery in the east, the inside living area is framed by large floor to ceiling windows, designed to capture the views across Storm Bay and back over the property. The views are so immense and breath-taking that when you stand in front of the windows, you feel almost at one with the landscape. The internal lining is crafted with locally sourced Pinus Macrocarpa, a sturdy tree that was historically used as windbreaks throughout much of southern Australia that has been sourced from nine different farms around Tasmania.
The shingles lining the bedrooms were made from recycled apple box crates, remnants of Tasmania’s booming apple industry and sourced from the old orchards found in the Huon Valley. In a previous life, the Waterview property was a commercial apple orchard. “The apple box element gives a soft voice to the social history of the region,” says Wardle. “I put advertisements in local agricultural papers and all these small family businesses responded; they had piles and piles of boxes left over from era.”
Compatibility with the environment is at the forefront of Wardle’s design. Around a third of the property is private forest, part of Tasmania’s forest reserve program. The area is home to two rare birds, the Forty-Spotted Pardalote, which lives permanently on the land; and the Swift Parrot, which migrates between Tasmania and the east coast of Victoria and NSW.
In the 10 years that they’ve owned the property, Wardle’s family, friends and staff have planted more than 9,000 trees in a massive conservation effort. This, Wardle says “it’s the perfect antidote to the more urban nature of our practice.” The Shearers’ Quarters itself was built using sustainable practices: double glazed windows, heavy insulation and maximum solar gain all help create a thermally efficient space. In 2011, the property won the Landcare Award for Sustainable Agriculture due to these sustainability and conservation initiatives.