“It can’t be explained. Or even photographed.”
That’s Broadsheet photographer Kate Shanasy’s take on Camillo House, a breathtaking (for real) new beach house atop Blairgowrie’s rolling, greenery-strewn sand dunes. Nonetheless, she’s photographed it (see above) and I’ll do my darndest to explain.
It was originally built in the ’80s as a family holiday home, but – since Clare Hillier and her partner Sean Morris took it over in 2020 – it now bears little resemblance to its former self.
After a summer spent camping in the house, getting to know it, “We started renovating [in autumn],” Hillier says. “While still remaining true to its faded 1980s beauty, we wanted to edit and refine the space to create something altogether new.”
No room or surface was left untouched during the reimagination of the “rabbit-warren-like” home, done in collaboration with Blair Smith Architecture and Lubu Building.
“We had one simple rule: all our design decisions had to stack up to the ‘fuck yes’ principle,” Hillier says. “We wanted everything about the space to be distinctive and original, to elicit a visceral ‘fuck yes’ from our guests when they step through our door.”
And boy did I let some F-bombs fly. Particularly on the show-stopping top floor – the penthouse, if you will. On one side, glass sliding doors open out onto a deck with an impeccably framed view of the dunes and the deep blue sea. To the left is a bar where a ready-to-pour (all-inclusive) Negroni awaits, ready for you to sip in one of the curvaceous orange armchairs, ideal for wistful gazing. But only until you realise the other side of the svelte green-carpeted room has another deck overlooking Arthurs Seat.
Downstairs, you’ll find the same dramatically pink cosmopolitan quartzite on the island bench as you will splashed across the shower and bedside tables in the master bedroom. There are also two custom-made bathtubs: one indoor, made of spotted gum; the other outdoor, a circular concrete slab where you can settle in for a secluded post-beach shower and soak (the place is “just 50 barefoot paces from Blairgowrie’s back beach”). And the original slate floor was de-glossed to bring out its purply-pink tones.
The house is filled with almost entirely vintage furniture sourced “from near and far”, Hillier says, and 25 original artworks (including one by the incredible Soul McKenzie aka Brown Sauce). It’s gallery-like in the sense that you can find yourself wandering in aimless admiration of all the A-plus design choices.
All in all, Camillo can accommodate up to six people across three bedrooms and three bathrooms, four living spaces and four decks (yes, four), and a cook’s kitchen (seriously, plan a dinner in). Plus, you’ll get a welcome hamper stocked by local producers.
Stays start at $1035 per night for a maximum of six people. There’s a two-night minimum generally, a three-night minimum on long weekends, and a five-night minimum during school holidays. The address is provided just before your stay. Book online.
This article was originally published December 20, 2022 but was updated on November 24, 2023 to reflect changes to pricing.