Five country estates perfect for a lifestyle and career shift

Properties like Malumba Estate can generate an income for owners. Picture:
Properties like Malumba Estate can generate an income for owners. Picture:

The popularity of television shows such as Grand Designs and Restoration Australia have many people dreaming about regional life. These programs have also unveiled some clever ways to generate an income, while enjoying life in a country estate. 

Moving to the country is one thing, but rolling in a career change at the same time can be overwhelming and requires preparation.

Here are some ideas for generating an income from a country estate that don’t require a lifetime of learning.

Lease out agricultural land

City slickers considering a career shift to farming should think twice, said agent at Elders Real Estate Rob Rickard, who has 30 years’ experience selling rural properties.

“Farming is not easy and there are not many properties that you can make a profit out of in the rural sector,” Mr Rickard said.

But for those who have their heart set on farm life, Mr Rickard advised them to consider leasing their agricultural asset to generate some income.

“You can lease the land out to a farmer who knows what they are doing. One of the local farmers who has got a good reputation, who is a reliable payer, who cares for his own property and in turn will care for your property, as a new purchaser in the area,” he said.

Provide accommodation with private bathrooms

Experts agree those looking to set up accommodation on a grand estate need to have separate bathrooms for each room. Picture:

Guest accommodation in regional Australia is in short supply, given the surge in domestic tourism post-COVID, said Tourism Accommodation Australia chief Michael Johnson.

For buyers interested in setting up regional tourist accommodation, there is great opportunity if they can find the right estate, he said.

“Location is critical. It could be a place sitting on top of a hill overlooking a valley – that sort of style. People are looking for big, open spaces where they can relax, but are still within close proximity to restaurants and cafes.”

Mr Johnson predicted Australia’s tourism sector had two to three years of strong domestic demand, before people would be comfortable resuming international travel, so it was important prospective buyers focused their search on areas that were popular tourism hot spots pre-pandemic.

He said it was also important to assess properties for potential zoning issues, heritage restrictions and the level of investment required to create a successful accommodation business. And then there’s the matter of bathrooms.

“A lot of the old estates have nice bathrooms, but they are shared. Today’s tourist is happy to share facilities like a shared lounge room, but once they get back to their room, they need to have an ensuite bathroom. That’s pretty critical if you are looking at creating multi-room accommodation in one of those old houses,” he explained.

Sydney prestige property agent Deborah Cullen said since COVID-19 shut down international travel, she has seen an increasing number of prospective buyers tempted by the opportunity to reinvent a country estate for luxury accommodation.

Ms Cullen said anyone with thoughts of transforming a country estate into boutique accommodation should work with the best operators out there.

“We work closely with the Contemporary Hotels Group who are always on the hunt for beautiful properties to represent. Regional areas are in such demand now, it seems an easy opportunity to earn income while you are not there.”

Use as event space, photoshoot or film location

There are homeowners in Sydney’s harbourfront eastern suburbs earning $200,000 a year allowing corporate events teams film crews and commercial photographers through their front door, according to Michelle McCormac, director of location agency Pure Location.

“It’s a very easy way to make additional income,” she said. “A home owner can be paid $10,000 a day for a corporate event; and $1500-$2000 for a photoshoot.”

Ms McCormac said creative demand for country estates had accelerated during the pandemic.

“People like to be transported elsewhere. We can make someone look like they have taken their team to Italy or to the English countryside, or Greece.”

Grand estates can be rented out for fashion shoots or even filming. Picture:

Bella Edwards from Melbourne-based agency Photoloco said country estates were increasingly in demand for fashion shoots, with clients seeking overgrown fields, lakes, rustic sheds and historic mansions.

“It’s always helpful, too, if these estates can provide accommodation for the crew, as it’s going to make the trip up there for a multiple-day shoot easier, though it’s not a deal breaker,” Ms Edwards said.

“Basically, all we require from the homeowners is that the house is presented in a clean state – the phrase we use, is ‘imagine your mother-in-law is coming over’.”

Experts say grand estate offer an escape to another world for those looking for filming locations. Picture:

Designer and stylist behind Victorian location hire property, Gypsy River House, Kerrie Nelson said she averages six shoots a year at her beautiful Yarra Valley home.

“I like sharing our house with like-minded people. A lot of people who come out are quite wowed by it, and it’s really nice that people like what we have done,” Ms Nelson said.

While she appreciates the income the shoots bring in, she warns it can be inconvenient some days.

“People think: ‘Oh that’s just so easy for $2000 a day’, but it’s not really. It can be inconvenient because they take your home for eight hours, or two days or sometimes a week and you have to be prepared to uproot everything and share your personal space. So, if you are not that way inclined, it’s probably not for you.”

Five grand country estates currently for sale

Here are five lovely country estates to suit those looking to make a living off the land.

1. Quamby Estate, Tasmania

Quamby Estate is used for weddings and functions. Picture:

Dating back to 1828, this picturesque country estate was once the home of Sir Richard Dry, Tasmania’s first locally-born Premier.

The 64ha property has a nine-hole golf course, a club house in the converted stables and a beautifully restored homestead with two grand receptions rooms, ten bedrooms, each with an ensuite, and a commercially-equipped kitchen.

It is a popular wedding venue and hosts visitors and events year round.

Quamby Estate is for sale through an expression of interest campaign via Sam Woolcock of Knight Frank Launceston.

2. Malumba Estate, Queensland

Malumba Estate operates as a boutique accommodation business. Picture:

Set on an elevated four-hectare site in Buderim, Malumba Estate captures panoramic views from the sands of Moreton Island to the Glasshouse Mountains.

The Hamptons-style estate includes a reception and event room, four guest suites, a pool and ten-car garage. The expansive kitchen was modelled on celebrity Martha Stewart’s kitchen.

Only 11 minutes from Sunshine Coast Airport, the property is being run as an accommodation business and has development approval for a 111-room luxury resort.

Malumba Estate is on the market for $21 million.

3. Lidsdale House, NSW

Lidsale House is currently on the market for $2.4m Picture:

Lidsdale House is a 1920s, nine-bedroom, sandstone mansion set on 20.14ha, ten-minutes from Lithgow and 35-minutes from the Blue Mountains.

Park-like gardens designed in 1940 by renowned Australian designer Paul Sorensen surround old stables, a coach house, tennis court, swimming pool, a large bore-fed pond and orchards across two titles.

The historic property is on the market for $2.4 million via Deborah Cullen, from the Cullen Royle property agency and Jamie Giokaris from LJ Hooker Lithgow.

4. Abbotsford Country House, SA

Abbotsford Country House in the Barossa Valley is currently accepting expressions of interest. Picture:

For buyers seeking an estate in a regional tourism hot spot, Abbotsford Country House is perfectly positioned. The 20ha property is in Lyndoch, in the Barossa Valley, one hour from Adelaide.

The 12-bedroom, 10-bathroom, Georgian-style house is surrounded by manicured gardens and 800 rose bushes. An additional two cottages provide eight suites.

The property is being sold via an expression of interest campaign through agent Jesse Manuel from Colliers International Adelaide.

5. Deepdale Farm, WA

Deepdale farm was built in the 1850s, but has been renovated and an extension was added in 2013. Picture:

In the Avon Valley, in Western Australia’s first inland settlement, you will find Deepdale Farm. It’s character-filled homestead was built in the 1850s and underwent an extensive renovation in 2007 and again in 2013.

Today the 1558ha property consists of the eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom homestead, a four-bedroom guest house, four-bedroom manager’s residence and ‘The Barn’ – a meeting place for family and guests.

Extra features of the estate include a heated pool, floodlit tennis court, gym, 300-tree olive grove; two helipads and 20 dams.

The sale of Deepdale Farm and its extensive livestock facilities is being managed by Chris Meares of Meares & Associates.

Price on application.