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Home Stories: Adam McGrath and Annette Blair

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This week on Escape to the Country—we mean, Home Stories—Ashley and Cass take a drive out of the city and into the bush to visit photographer Adam and glass artist Netty at their dream home in rural Burra.

Avid Home Stories readers will remember when I did a series of four profiles on rural properties just outside of Canberra about two years ago. It turns out they were really popular, with plenty of you asking for more rural features, so it was about time I got my gumboots back on.

For our first Home Stories column of 2022, Cass and I headed out to Burra NSW, around 20 minutes out of Canberra, to meet Adam McGrath and Annette ‘Netty’ Blair and check out their dream home situated on a 32-acre property.

Adam always wanted to live out there and 16 years ago, while doing bike runs from Canberra to the coast and back, he looked over his lycra-clad shoulder and fell in love with this piece of land.

At that time, the roads were unsealed and there were only two small properties, but Adam saw beyond that and envisaged a big future. That future included a massive shed, a modern home, a dam with a boat, plenty of mature trees, a play park and a large veggie garden. Turns out I should have asked him for the future Lotto numbers because his vision came to perfect realisation.

After Adam bought the property, he built that massive shed and lived in it for eight years as a bachelor. His time was spent skateboarding with such world-famous skaters that I cannot begin to name drop, playing guitar and drums in blues bands, crafting what has become a highly-celebrated photography career and, most importantly, learning how to create, make and build.

I say most importantly, because it’s easy to summarise Adam by his photographic successes, but I feel that his standout value is in his approach to trying everything with passion, patience and dedication.

After Adam and Netty, a celebrated glass artist, met, the couple started to plan a life together and design their home. They relied on architects, interior designers, builders and tradespeople in part to build the home over two years—but were very involved in every step…and I would suggest that Adam was hands-on with at least 80% of it.

Adam did the roof, built the front door (including its custom metal handles), designed and manufactured custom round drainage covers for the bathrooms, did all the stonework on the inside fireplace, created custom carpet joints, the full landscaping…and I could just go on.

If he could do it, he would and if he couldn’t, he would be there learning how to.

The result is that both Adam and Netty truly know their home inside out, and it’s one of the reasons they love it so much. So, what are the other reasons? There are three.

Firstly, even when mistakes were made, they ended up being wins. For example, this stunning large middle beam, as well as the position of the dining window, were quite different in the plans—but as you can see in the photos, both were brilliant mistakes that now add a highlighted point of distinction to the home.

Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.

The second reason is that what they designed is as modern, energy-efficient, comfortable and practical as they envisaged. The rooms are large and flowing, there is plenty of storage, the butler’s pantry is big enough to stock supplies for a Greek wedding, the couple’s young boys can store all their monster trucks in the bedrooms, and there are plenty of blank spaces to hang art on.

Netty already has some of custom blown glass creations on display, such as those stunning green kitchen and bedside pendants, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that there should be more.

Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.

The third reason is that the house is all about celebrating the beauty of its ever-changing surroundings. That brilliant ‘mistake window’ in the dining space frames a growing tree, the living space’s folding doors act a panoramic cinema screen, showing kangaroos jumping along rolling hills and the seamless 90-degree bathroom window is so nice that your likelihood of going prune-y for being too long in the bath is very high.

Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.

Even the high windows in the main corridor offer a play of light that changes as the day progresses. Actually, all this might explain why Adam hasn’t got some of his favourite nature photos on those walls—because there’s already plenty of art inside and out.

To give you an idea of what Adam, Netty and the kids enjoy each day, I snuck in a few of Adam’s photos into Cass’ suite that Adam took during dusk. The pictures just say it all. It must feel so good to Adam to know that his instinctual attraction to this piece of land 16 years ago and the visions that he had at the time, were just so right.





Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.









Photo courtesy of Adam McGrath.



Planning a move in 2022?

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Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with ActewAGL.   

Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.   

Photography: Adam McGrath and Cass Atkinson

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