Award winning outback romance

Bookings are now open for my three 2020 residential writing retreats, co-tutored with RNA Chair Alison May. Details can be found here.

The ‘one day’ house

We all have them – the ‘one day’ house. Go on… confess. I bet you have one too.

‘One day – when I win the lottery….’ or ‘One day when I am fabulously rich…’

It’s otherwise known as the dream house. I think I started designing the house of my dreams when I was about eleven or twelve. Living in Queensland where it’s hot, and being a bit of a history nut, my dream house was always going to be a lovely colonial building – with wide verandas, and high ceilings, and stables and lawns and….

I found it recently. Someone else had built it for me.

homestead

I was doing some research and google brought up a link to Gabbinbar Homestead, a wedding venue in my old home town of Toowoomba. As I was in the neighbourhood, I contacted them to see if they were willing to show me around. Not that I needed to book a wedding of course – but for book research. They were very happy to oblige.

If I was looking for a wedding venue though - how perfect would this be. This is the bride's retreat.

If I was looking for a wedding venue though – how perfect would this be? This is the bride’s retreat.

The homestead is beautiful. It was built in 1863, which for this part of Australia, makes it a very old building indeed. In the 1800’s it was used at a summer residence of the state’s governors. It did fall into disrepair – but has now been lovingly restored.

I'm thinking canapes and a G&T as the sun goes down.

I’m thinking canapes and a G&T as the sun goes down.

When I was young, my dream house had stables. This homestead has stables too, but while mine were going to be full of beautiful horses, these are used as a backdrop for the wedding photographers. There’s even an old chapel – and it’s been left largely untouched, creating a lovely atmosphere.

The old chapel. What stories those walls could tell.

The old chapel. What stories those walls could tell.

A lot of my UK friends imagine that it never (well almost never) rains in Australia – and of course that’s not the case. So while outdoor weddings are popular, there has to be a plan B.

The pavilion is a modern addition, but blends beautifully into the grounds.

The pavilion is a modern addition, but blends beautifully into the grounds.

And as for the ballroom – I could so imagine ladies in glorious gowns dancing there.

I could hear the music just standing there.

I could hear the music just standing there.

The suburbs have now enclosed the homestead, but the beautiful grounds still give that feeling of privacy – although the staff told me they had to get rid of their peacocks because the neighbours complained about the noise. I’ve heard peacocks calling – and I totally understand.

But with or without peacocks, the homestead is lovely… and was perfect for the research I was doing. So thanks to the lovely Elizabeth for showing me around. My writer’s brain is now wandering through those rooms, talking to invisible people and hearing their stories.

For me, this  is how books start.

The gentlemen can retire to the library - now I wonder what they talked about...

The gentlemen can retire to the library – now I wonder what they talked about…

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Writing retreats 2020 - Intensive tutor-led retreats with Janet Gover and Alison May

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist for The Wild OneColorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence Finalist for The Wild One
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