Penny Hunter has crafted a beautifully written article about the stunning Greyleigh property featured in ‘The Weekend Australian’. Delving into the rich history of the estate, she eloquently captures the passion and dedication poured into revitalising the treasured property, and we're truly grateful for Penny Hunter's kind words.
Discover more about Greyleigh and the love that has shaped it by reading the full article in ‘the Australian Weekend - March 2023’. Contact the Greyleigh team to start planning your next stay.
We have detailed her article below but you can find her piece here.
It was serendipity that led engineer and builder Charles Daoud to the driveway of Greyleigh amid the undulating farmland of NSW’s south coast. A regular holidaymaker to Kiama, Daoud became disoriented on the roads behind the town and stumbled upon an overgrown property where citrus trees were groaning beneath the weight of fruit. Further investigation revealed an orchard abundant with hazelnut, mango, mulberry, fig and stone fruit. The property was so covered in vegetation it was impossible to tell how many buildings were on it but, with views to the ocean, Daoud was struck by its potential. When it unexpectedly came on to the market a few years later, he and George Geagea, co-owners of property development company Traders In Purple, made a leap of faith and bought it virtually sight unseen.
Thus began a daunting quest to uncover its many secrets and restore what had once been a much-loved home. Now standing on 80ha, part of what was a much larger parcel of land, Greyleigh dates back to the late 1880s. The original owner was successful farmer George Grey, who made a name for himself breeding Illawarra shorthorn dairy cattle and building the first concrete silos in the district. His marriage to Susan Lee produced the portmanteau Greyleigh, as well as eight children.
Having cleared the land, being careful to leave the heritage-listed drystone walls untouched, Daoud and Geagea discovered a main homestead, a guesthouse, the silos and dairy, a magical tree-fringed garden plus other farm buildings and old equipment. The dwellings were clad in corrugated iron that had been curiously painted a peachy pink but were beset with timber rot, termite damage, damp and structural problems.
The pair were not unaccustomed to the challenges of working with historic buildings; their recent transformation of a heritage-listed 1920s church in Cronulla has won awards.
But when it came to the interiors, they needed help. Step up design duo Dominique Brammah and Shannon Shlom of We Are Duet who were tasked with making it “memorable”. They quickly dismissed any ideas of Southern Highlands chintz and opened eyes and minds to a world of unconventional colour matches. Think mustard and mushroom, dark teal and maroon, all wrapped in the restored exterior of terracotta-pink iron cladding. Somehow it works.
The ambitious five-year project was completed in October last year, and what has emerged is a whimsical yet peaceful rural retreat, ideal for large family gatherings and weddings. The Homestead, which has a vast al fresco dining setting for 18 on the veranda, features three bathrooms and sleeps 12 across four bedrooms. The adjacent three-bedroom, two-bathroom Guesthouse sleeps six. In the Greys’ former home, the first-floor master suite is dominated by an elevated sea-green four-poster bed and a claw-foot tub perched on a marble slab that overlooks a Juliet balcony and the paddocks beyond.
On the ground floor is an adorable children’s bunk room for half a dozen littlies, while two other double bedrooms are nearby, along with a combined living and dining space (with wood burner heater), separate formal dining room and fully equipped kitchen.
Walls are adorned with eclectic and original artworks (some for sale), brass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and furniture is a mix-match of bespoke, antique and repurposed pieces, all of which put colour, texture and comfort first.
Daoud’s favourite item is an old Queen Anne cupboard found on site, its glass doors shattered. He admits that upon seeing the designers’ plans for the wardrobe, he thought, “We’re just getting silly now.” But it’s beautiful. The timber has been painted dark gold and baby blue and the glass replaced with fabric printed with a vibrant botanical pattern in red, white, yellow and green.
The old dairy is now The Gables, an event space with soaring ceilings, rustic reclaimed timber walls and expansive bar. Cleverly incorporated into the structure are the two silos, now intimate circular nooks with banquette seating. Another building has been converted into a spa space, and an outdoor pizza oven plus a pool with cabana are recent additions the Greys could never have imagined.
One morning during my stay, I don exercise gear and venture out to the dewy lawn next to a giant 150-year-old Moreton Bay fig, where top-knot pigeons are flapping and fussing. Local instructor Leanne Morland, of Soul Spot Yoga, takes me through an hour’s worth of gentle stretching as wispy clouds race across the sky. It’s one of the Greyleigh Gems experiences offered to guests, along with cooking classes and chef-cooked meals. Bowral-based Canadian pastry chef Rochelle Adonis can whip up a feast in the Homestead kitchen, and masseuse Jodie Turnbull is adept at kneading out knots from stressed shoulders and smoothing furrowed brows.
Mostly, though, I’m content to stroll the grounds, which have been artfully remade by Byron Bay landscape architects Studio Rewild, retaining century-old camellias and introducing pretty flowering natives. Burlap sheep and alpacas graze in afield with million-dollar ocean views and a couple of cute Shetland ponies doze in their enclosure. In a nearby pen, chickens enthusiastically accept all offers of food scraps.
For Daoud, one of the most rewarding aspects of his passion project has been the positive response of locals, some of whom have inspected the team’s handiwork. When relatives of the Greys and former Greyleigh residents visited, the place was still familiar and memories of childhood hijinks came flooding back.
“There were tears in the room,” Daoud says, adding: “It really was a labour of love and it took a very long time. I want as many people to enjoy it as possible before we do (something like this) again.”
Sweeping ocean and country views from Saddleback Mountain Lookout. The vistas stretch from Cronulla in the north to Milton in the south; about 10 minutes drive from Kiama.
Boneyard Beach, north of town near Bombo, a pretty little arc with pebble-strewn sand, abundant rock pools and grassy picnic spots.
The delicious gelato at The Pines Pantry, produced locally at the family-run organic micro-dairy that also makes cheese.
With espressos from the Brooding Italian, which uses beans locally roasted by Cherry Black Coffee, and relative newcomer and coffee purist Manning Street Local.
Greyleigh is at 165-177 Long Brush Rd, Jerrara. Exclusive use of the property from $3750 a night, two-night minimum.