I’m a chippy by trade, I started working for myself when I was 19. Twelve years ago, Terry and I decided we had to get out of Sydney.
I was up here looking at another house further up the river, and Terry phoned me and said forget that one, go and have a look at this one. I walked in the front door and straight through to look at the river, and then back out to the carpark. The real estate agent said to me, ‘oh well, that was a waste of time, don’t you even want to look at the house?’ I said ‘nah, I can do anything I want to the house’.
I was only interested in the river and I bought it then and there.
My three sons are all wakeboarders, so as soon as I got here I put in the shed and the boat ramp, and then renovated everything else. I used slabs of timber from Townsend, and did all the work in the shed. I put in a new staircase.
Now we have an average of 6-7 people staying here every night. Sometimes we might have 20 people. I think part of our success is that people drive the east coast from either Sydney or Brisbane. Most people only want to drive about four hours a day, and Seelands happens to be a four-hour stop – four hours from Brisbane and four from Port Macquarie.
Being off the beaten track, it can be difficult to find. If it wasn’t for the internet we’d starve. We’ve been getting a lot of international visitors lately which is good – we don’t really have to go to the world, the world comes to us.
About four years ago we started caring for orphan joeys with WIRES. You couldn’t do that in Sydney. We had them lined up at the end of our bed when they were really little, they’d just hang there waiting for their milk. When they’d get out in the middle of the night and start hopping around you’d know it was time take them up to the shed.
They go back to the wild pretty quick. The kangaroos around here are all ours, and they’ve all had babies, so we get to see the next generation too.
Before we bought the Clarence River Bed and Breakfast, we had a convenience store in Sydney. The pressure used to be on a bit when you’d have to cook hamburgers in front of 15 waiting tradies.
Greg first came up just for a look but we bought a year before we were ready. When we found this place, it said on the ad that it was suitable for a bed and breakfast and I said, ‘you know what, we could give that a go’. You start off small, and it just gets bigger.
This property actually used to be two old houses, they moved them from Grafton Shoppingworld in 1980. They were about 100 years old then, so they’d be about 140 now. We’ve got approval to build another building now, and that will fit another 36 people.
We still cook for breakfast for people every morning and dinner every night, but it’s totally different now.
Written by Clare Morton