Growing up in England, every year we flew the few, short hours across the Atlantic Ocean to a Spanish archipelago called the Canary Islands, just 100 km north west coast of mainland Africa. The islands, although close to England, seemed a million miles from anywhere. The Canaries (as they are commonly known), have a subtropical climate with long hot summers and moderately warm winters; a far cry from the freezing shores of England. Here the land is rugged and volcanic. I recall the sand being a deep shade of black. Steeped in Spanish history, the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons that sailed south to catch the prevailing north-easterly trade winds on their way to the Americas during the time of the Spanish Empire.
Our little Villa in the Canary Islands was Spanish inspired with its soft rendered walls and earthy terracotta, it was here where my love for all Spanish architecture began. I loved venturing up into the hinterlands where we would see many a rustic Finca (expansive farm land containing a Spanish style home) etched into the hills disguised behind the full heads of the resident Canary Islands Palms.
It was here on the shores of The Canaries that I saw my first ever Canary Island Palm (Phoenix canariensis). These spectacular trees are native to the islands and still, to this day, remind me of distant lands and most importantly the feeling of escapism. As an ode to history, we have planted a few of these magnificent trees at The Range.
Several decades down the track, married with one child, Tom and I decided to take a sabbatical and escape to the Spanish shores to live for a short while. It was a country for which we both had a mutual appreciation. We explored the architecture of Barcelona, spent extended time in the coastal town of Cadeques and ventured around the neighbouring Baleriatic islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. It was on this journey that we declared someday we would build our own Finca.
Fast track 12 years and here we sit on 120 acres in the hinterland of Byron Bay. Tom had grown up spending time on his family’s farm in Braidwood and wanted to give our now four children a chance to experience what he had growing up – space and a connection with nature. So, armed with a good helping of holiday romanticism and numerous sketches in our head, we set out to create what we believe is a perfect fusion of an Australian farmhouse with Spanish Finca influences. We wanted to ensure that we honoured Australian design while paying homage to both cultures.
In December 2017, after 10 years of looking for the perfect site, we stumbled quite by accident upon 120 acres in the hinterland of Byron Bay. The land was a little wild and rugged, with an old homestead and a few out-buildings. We took one look at each other and knew we had found the foundations of our future sanctuary.