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Home Stories: Jo and Rob

Ashley Feraude and Cass Atkinson

I’m a sucker for praise, so when many of you responded so positively to the ‘bush living’ story the other week, I decided to surf the wave of popularity and write another piece.

This time, Cass and I went to visit my friends Jo Elphinstone and the “simply irresistible” Rob Palmer at their home in Gundaroo.

Now, some of you might not have heard of Gundaroo. But if you have, you probably know it for the famous pub, the award-winning Grazing Restaurant or at least that weird 90-degree turn you have to take on your way out there, which feels like you’re trespassing through someone’s farm.

Gundaroo is a community of 500 people who are close-knit and love the town, the land and its produce. Clearly, Jo and Rob thought 500 was too perfect a number, so they got busy, made a baby named Wally and contributed a +1 to that figure. Now the town has to update the population sign to 501.

Jo and Rob have lived and worked in Canberra for most of their lives and still commute to our city every day for work and play. They chose to settle down in Gundaroo because it gave them the freedom to design and build exactly the home they were after, whilst staying close to everything that Canberra has to offer.

Knowing these two quite well, I also think they like a challenge, because they chose a place that’s practically off the grid, minus the electricity supply. Their septic stuff gets turned into fertiliser, a mega water tank collects their rainwater, and they keep warm with a super-efficient fire heater, which they fuel with wood debris (and probably next-door neighbour’s fence when desperate).

Now, Jo and Rob didn’t let me name their baby (they said something about my suggestions of ‘Megatron’ or ‘Destinee’ being too much—some people are so uptight), but at least they allowed me to name their tank Big Bertha. Cool huh?

Actually what is cooler than the name Big Bertha is how they styled the home with a modern take on country styling. Think classic wood contrasted with modern light pendants, and a soft neutral colour palette paired with strong pops of colour—like the orange lounge or the deep-blue bedroom curtains.

The beauty of the almost church-like main living area with its cathedral ceiling and huge swing-out doors is given added drama by the lack of clutter. I’m sure there will be prams, toys and other baby stuff to change that soon, but for the time being the OCD part in me loved the visual clarity.

Being a bit of a handyman, Rob made all the wooden lamps by hand, designed and created the bedhead and base (from wood cut and milled at Jo’s parents’ farm in Tasmania) and even did the bathroom bench tops. He said he really didn’t know what he was doing, but I think he was just being modest (after all, the bed withstood the process needed to increase Gundaroo’s population).

But, as with all home makers designing their living, the chase is never over. At some point, Jo gave me a piece of paper with scribbles on it and, thinking the baby must have drawn it, I started to praise his early artistic abilities. After a moment of awkwardness, Jo pointed out it was, in fact, her garden design plan. There is a full back deck to be made, a retaining wall, paving, shrubs and grassy green areas. Sometimes it’s not about finishing, but about enjoying the creation process.

On the way out, I started to ponder the pros and cons of country living. I banged on for a while about being self-sufficient, the dangers of hitting kangaroos, knowing all your neighbours, wondering about internet connection speeds and then Cass cut me off and said “Ashley, can we just go to the pub?”. Great idea.












Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here and read about Canberra Centre’s homewares haven here.

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Centre

Photography by Cass Atkinson


Ashley Feraude

Ashley Feraude is a creative consultant, music producer and man-about-town. Under his Sound Technique agency, he provides award-winning consultancy services ranging from branding design, creative content development and event music direction for events and hospitality venues. Under the alias Magnifik, he produces award-winning original music filled with electronic soul and performs melodic DJ sets at numerous night spots, events and festivals. And if that wasn’t enough, Ashley is also the author of this insightful interior design editorial series. So is he suffering from split personality disorder and has an obsession over pointy awards? Not really...he just loves design, music and getting an insight into people’s personalities. Plus he likes being really busy. More about the Author


Cass Atkinson

Cass Atkinson is a photographer who loves shooting weddings & families when she's not shooting interiors & architecture. She’s equal parts homebody and adventurer who loves curling up with a book as much as a trip to somewhere new. She values authenticity, cheeky humour, unexpected details, doesn’t take herself too seriously, and the jam doughnut addiction runs deep. She’s a born & raised Canberra native and her hobbies include collecting vintage cameras & being sassed by her threenager. More about the Author

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