Originally from the Yarra Ranges in Victoria Australia, I have a professional tourism and equestrian industry background. My passion has always been horses and after a degree in "Horse Business Management" I managed an equestrian centre, was the dressage co-ordinator for the Equestrian Federation of Victoria and then found myself in the world of racing at a blood stock agents.
Coaching and competing in eventing and dressage certainly kept me busy for years. Then a new direction and life change let me to study tourism and guiding. Living the dream I then found myself at Parks Victoria and hosting wine tours in the stunning Yarra Valley, a major wine region in East Victoria. Moving to a home in Olinda I found myself in full renovation mode and enjoyed transforming a house on a large scale. Little did I know at the time I was learning the skills needed to transform this historic home in New Zealand.
So everyone asks, "how did you end up here?". There were so many B&B's in the area where I was living and I adore hosting and meeting new people so thought it would be a fantastic thing to do on the side. My current house was not suited so I set out to find another. After many set backs a dear friend of mine, who had moved to New Zealand a year before suggested to me that I might look here. Curious and inspired over a holiday I thought, "it can't hurt to look....right?". I saw the house online and viewed it the second day I arrived. I cant explain it but it just felt like home. I fell in love with the house, with Lawrence and the whole region of Otago. Its a wonderful community and a stunning place, which I am now privileged to call home.
Many days are now filled with nurturing a huge garden and maintaining this grand old gem. Its always exciting to greet guests and host different people from all over New Zealand and international locations. Having traveled the world when we get chatting you really do realise how small and close the world can be.
Winter time is perfect for relaxing in front of the fire and in summer the verandah offers beautiful views of the valley. Its my favourite place to be. You can just about see Gandolph in the distance on that unicorn lol. I visit family and friends in Australia over winter and stoke the fire at my best friends farm. My extended family all reside in the UK and its been a great base to travel Europe over the years. On my greatest enjoyment list is travel, personal development, animals, archetypes, meditation, friends and an oak filled chardonnay. Im really looking forward to hosting you and Im sure there will be a topic to enjoy.
Original Home Builder and Family
Mr Archibald McKinlay (1826 - 1910)
Mr McKinlay was born in Scotland and became an apprentice in the drapery trade. He decided to immigrate to Australia in 1853 with his friend Edward Herbert. They then both travelled to Tuapeka in Otago NZ and found prospecting for gold in Gabriel’s Gully quite lucrative, discovering $2000 worth in 1861. They bought a goods store and used contacts back in Scotland to supply drapes, groceries, hardware, timber and wine. It was very successful supplying many smaller stores in the region.
Mr McKinlay built “The Sycamores”(now Lady of Lawrence) in three stages from approximately 1860. The brick addition was completed in 1902. Archibald had eight children with his wife, Catherine; John, William, Mary, Margaret, James, Archibald, John (Jack) and Frances. He is described as a man “of stirling character and strict probity in all matters”. He was also a strong supporter of the Presbyterian Church.
Following his death in 1910, his three maiden daughters lived at the property. By the 1960’s the house was gifted to the Presbyterian Church for use as a manse. There were two more owners before the house was placed on the market and purchased by Ms Verity Wolf on April 9th 2015.
Verity has spent months restoring and re-decorating the house to provide bed and breakfast accommodation and is joined by her mother Sandra, at different times through out the year. Her love of horses is evident throughout the home and she hopes this pleases Catherine who also had a passion for equestrian pursuits. A photo of Mr McKinlay has been placed at the Peel Street entrance door.
Reference: Thank you to Otago & Southland Heritage houses by Rodney Wells and Tessa Ward for information on the history of the property. Thank you to Rodney for allowing the beautiful sketches of the property to be used.