Seven years ago, Richmond locals Colleen Guiney and John Watkinson (a visual merchandiser and marketing professional respectively) decided to pack it all in and head to the sleepy, coastal town of Port Fairy, three-and-a-half hours out of Melbourne. They’d been regular holiday-makers to the port (awarded the Most Liveable Community in the World in 2012 by the international, UN-endorsed LivCom), and like an increasing number of inner-city families, a sea change was calling. They saw a derelict old house on the river come up for sale – a beautiful white, two-storey bluestone with a deep first-storey balcony, set just back from the river – and bought it.
The place had been left to ruins and was completely unliveable, so they engaged the Brunswick-based architect studio, Multiplicity – which had previously won awards for the design of Guiney and Watkinson’s home in North Richmond – to transform the old bones of this dilapidated country house into a luxury B&B.
Opened late in 2013, Drift House is now a property of contrasts, made up of four private, self-contained suites, each with a completely individual design. The front half of the building keeps its charming Victorian aesthetic, while at the back, a modern extension clad in perforated metal with a glass link joining the two buildings, has been added. A pool is currently being finished in place of the old, indoor one, though the beach is only a walk away.
Using a mix of materials, from recycled timber and original pieces salvaged from the previous owner, alongside beautiful design fixtures (lighting, sculptural pieces and furniture), each room is unique, pairing old structure with innovative modern interiors. Suites include creature comforts; from specially commissioned artwork, to luxurious sofas, mosaic-tiled bathrooms or a bathtub in the centre of the room that separates the bed from the kitchen, a huge projector screen, external electric sun blinds, a huge open balcony and a mini bar full of products by mostly small, Victorian producers. And though Guiney and Watkinson are cautious for this not to be a rollcall of designer features, Drift House has been seriously considered and fitted out with know-how. This is not five-star opulence, or doily-wrapped Victoriana, but it is a pretty sweet spot for a country-coastal getaway.
Other recommendations in Port Fairy
EAT & DRINK
33 Sackville Street, Port Fairy
Bar and pizzeria
1 Campbell Street, Port Fairy
Restaurant and accommodation
Poco Artisan Ice Cream
27 Cox Street, Port Fairy
41 Bank Street, Port Fairy
Local pub with beer garden
Broadsheet was accommodated by Drift House during the stay in Port Fairy.