Pastoral paradise

Adding their personal touch to one of Australia’s finest pastoral estates has been a decade-long honour for one Singleton couple.

Gaylene and Tony Poke had always wanted to own an “older home”. But when the Singleton couple began their search for an acreage with plenty of outside space for their kids to enjoy, they never dreamed they would fulfill both desires while also helping preserve the history of one of Australia’s finest pastoral estates.

In 2011, the Poke family became just the seventh custodians of Baroona, an iconic property located seven kilometres south of Singleton. With almost 100 glorious acres of grazing country, the estate certainly ticked the ‘wide open spaces’ box. But it was the magnificent convictbuilt mansion, rising majestically from the sweeping Whittingham plains with its double-brick rendered façade, that delivered so much more than Gaylene and Tony had ever imagined. “I think we’ve always had a great interest in older homes and we’ve never had the opportunity to own one before,” Gaylene said.

“We’ve lived in Singleton for nearly 30 years but we’re both originally Taswegians and we came from older towns in Tasmania where there are a lot of historical buildings, so we’ve always had an interest in that area. “(In 2011) we were looking for about 100 acres to have a bit more room for the kids to have horses and motorbikes and those types of things. So when this came on the market we thought, ‘Wow, we can have the land and be able to own a home with great historical significance.

“We wanted to put our mark on it by restoring it and bringing it up to speed, shall we say, for modern living, but do it in a sympathetic way.”

Gaylene Poke

The Pokes were far from the first owners to add their own personal touch to the home, which was originally built by John Lanarch in 1829, using convict labour.

Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Michelle Meehan, photography courtesy of Knight Frank Australia