WANDERLUST: ST JOSEPH'S GUEST HOUSE IN NSW, AUSTRALIA
The sun was beating down on a gorgeous spring day in the heart of the New South Wales countryside of St Albans. The only sounds to be heard were the rustle of eucalyptus leaves in the wind, the fluvial water flowing down the Macdonald River, and the occasional car making its way down a winding road in the distance. Driving along St Albans Road with no sense of direction or plan, past grazing pastures and diary cows feeding on lush grass, the car came around a bend and on the left I barely noticed a shiny aluminium steeple on top of what could only be a newly restored sandstone church at the crest of a hill. It was one of those unspoken moments, keep driving and forever wonder why the church, which was clearly more than a century old, was being restored. Or turn the car around on the narrow road and indulge in some true blue Aussie sticky beaking. Obviously we chose the latter.
Parking the car at the bottom of the driveway and slowly walking up the hill, the most magnificent church I had ever laid eyes on was soon standing in front of me in its magnificently restored glory. I was left wide-eyed and speechless at the restoration, which after some research, discovered it is the second oldest church on mainland Australia and has been recently transformed into a five-bedroom guesthouse with its own cemetery dating from 1840.
With the locally quarried foundation stone laid by convicts in 1839, over time the church has seen some tough years including several owners and developers, disrepair and was burnt out by a fire in 1898. The stonework might have survived the onslaught of time but the heat and rain over the century had weakened the mortar, which resulted in some of the walls starting to sag and bow.
St Joseph’s Guest House is obviously a labour of love, and restoring an old church in the country is something I have always dreamed of doing myself one day. The end result is actually the passion of Steve Kavanagh and his family who saw the potential of the ruined remains. The church has been painstakingly restored and turned into a stunning guest house with all the modern amenities including ensuite bathrooms in each of the rooms, Foxtel in every bedroom, kitchen, laundry, indoor entertainment area for movies, large outdoor deck for afternoon drinks, a barbeque or a party as well as an attic retreat. Its the stuff my dreams are made of!
Replacing the severely damaged roof and steeple with silver tin aluminum, it sets off a rather pleasing contrast with the 100-year-old convict laid sandstone blocks that form the exterior of the church. Even without being about to explore the church from the inside, it’s very obvious Steve has struck the perfect balance of comfort, convenience and charm.
For more information about St Joseph's Guesthouse and to make a booking request, visit here.