Photography: Dominic Loneragan
Photography: Dominic Loneragan
Say hello to the incredible a church-turned-abode of Amanda Callan and her musician partner Andrew Morris (of The Wilson Pickers).
These two have been in our sights for the past two years, as we’ve watched them lovingly remove some of the building’s more religious fixtures and swap them for kitchen stove tops and four-poster beds. All while raising the cutest kid this side of Northern NSW.
What makes the whole scenario even more romantic is that much of the work was completed themselves.
As well as being quiet adept strumming a tune or two, turns out Andrew’s also quite handy with a wood sander and cordless drill.
The hands-on quality has extended right out to their garden, which provides much of the produce for the couples side project, Church Farm General Store, a soap and gourmet foodstuffs business that has grown organically from the renovation.
Most of the ingredients and floral additions to their soaps have been sourced directly from the ground outside the church.
Although, we’re positive they’ve added some sort of gypsy voodoo magic to their hot sauce because we are absolutely addicted and can’t stop re-ordering (seriously, Tasbasco has nothing on these guys).
INTERVIEW WITH AMANDA:
“We transitioned to country life by doing the city to small beach town life, which was pretty easy. Quiet beaches, millions of stars in the sky, new dog, Banjo on the way. A year or so later we found the church and even though it’s only 5 minutes to the beach, it feels a lot more rural being in Billinudgel.”
“There are definitely perks of living in the city, that’s like anything though, pros and cons.
You know, there’s loads more restaurants and cafes to choose from, and it’s always hard leaving friends but they visit and there is so much good food here too, like The Nomadic Kitchen who cook breakfast at the farmers markets, and the Japanese Café Doma in Federal, which are both better than anything I’ve ever eaten in a city!
The city will always be there, it isn’t going anywhere, and we are just really enjoying having some extra space and having more time to do the things we love.”
“The light that comes in through the church windows in the mornings is pretty beautiful. And the winter the fireplace, which is a total necessity since it gets so cold here (cracks in floorboards, big open space) but also a total luxury.”
“I think discovering the church was manifested by the combined powers of Andrew and my dad. We were going for a drive with my parents, I was pregnant at the time and Andrew wanted to go to Billinudgel, probably to go past the pub, and we just saw it at the end of the street with a For Sale and a mobile phone number.
We actually signed the contract the same week Banjo was born, must have been a big week astrologically for us or something, two big life milestones within 7 days.
After we bought it everyone was saying ‘oh I was going to buy that place’ ‘ oh yes we looked at that’ but nobody did… luckily for us!”
“Andrew’s favourite part is the Swale garden (for rainwater harvesting) we’ve got going on out the back, it’s pretty awesome at the moment, with heaps of the natives are flowering so we have giant kangaroo paws, banksias, purple wattle, bright pink Grevilleas, and tall she oaks. It’s such a nice place to hang out in the afternoon when the sun is setting as the light is just magic.”
“My favourite place is probably the outdoor bath, we recently had it plumbed in properly with hot water and we have some kaffir lime, lemon myrtle and lavender all within grabbing reach from the bath, so that’s a pretty nice way to end the day.”
“I’m not really sure how how we juggle work and the business. Our relationship is like a time shuffle between hanging with Banjo (we call him The Wild Child), planting seeds and taking care of the garden, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs and making sure they don’t get smashed in Bam Bam’s hands, clearing out the house for Andrew’s studio recordings, making soap, stocking the roadside stall, taking milly wolf (our dog) to the beach, packing orders, strolling to the post office, cooking, more soap making, more cooking, more wild child… Then repeat.”
“We’d like to keep growing and filling our roadside stall with produce, because being able to supply passers by with fresh fruit and veggies and handmade soap is pretty fun..
And also just to keep making products that are good for people and the planet. With our soaps we source the ingredients as locally as possible, most we try to grow ourselves, and we avoid any synthetic fragrances, colours or additives because we like to keep it all as natural as possible.
We feel plants and herbs are always going to be way more awesome than something that is artificially made in a lab.”
Can you give us the recipe for that dip you made us during the photo shoot?
“Fresh Broadbeans, peeled
Nimbin Valley Cow Fetta
Then just mash it up! Serve with crusty sourdough, which tastes best when gently grilled in a skillet with olive oil, you could even rub some garlic on there for extra goodness.”
What are 3 things that you’ve learned and know to be true?
1. “If you love the life you live, you’ll live a life of love
We saw that on the bathroom wall of our friends place last night, thought it was a good one.”
2. “There’s talking about something, and then there is just doing it.”
3. “If you don’t pick up the neighbours dropped Guavas from their tree and feed them to the chickens the fruit flies will come and eat your cucumbers.”