Step inside a classic retreat at a working sheep station for a stay with a difference.
Just outside the historic South Australian town of Burra is Saffron Downs, a 140-year-old stone homestead on a working sheep station which is also a haven for kangaroos and emus. From outside it looks like any other classic Australian farmhouse, but step inside and you'll be whisked away to exotic places.
Pauline McPharlin and Alistair Sawers own this special place, and many years of travel have had a thoughtful and tasteful influence on the décor of Saffron Downs. There is a blend of Morocco, Yemen, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Mekong in items around the house, as well as the cuisine. Visitors are greeted like friends dropping by, and the sheepdogs seem to love everyone.
More than two years were spent doing up the homestead and adding a corrugated iron and glass extension which was inspired by the adjacent shearing shed.
The whole place is about colour … The landscape is arid and lunar-like, but the hills around the 2428ha property are a rich saffron colour and sunsets are quite special. The feeling of remoteness is enhanced by 360º views of salt bush plains, the Murray plains and the Burra hills. You can see where land was cleared for copper mining and for attempts to grow wheat.
The old homestead accommodates up to eight people and it is extremely welcoming with its art, antiques, colourful rugs and unique furniture. It has an open fire, a good verandah from which to enjoy the sunsets, plus a pool.
Pre-dinner drinks and hors d'oeuvres are served in a glass yurt. The small hexagonal room was inspired by a Mongolian hexagonal tent, and was a generous gift from a happy visitor.
If people are staying for a few days, Alistair will drive them around the property if they wish. An interesting feature is the German settlers' cemetery, untouched and overgrown, but with original glass angels and other decorations.
When it was a thriving copper town, council sub-divided the land into farmlets but poor conditions destined that to be a failure. As a result, there are homestead ruins all over the property.