Perricoota station is a reminder of how colonized communities on the New South Wales border were. Paddle steamers still arrive on its shore, and the farm buildings – at least on the outside – remain in their 1840s state of development.
Barry and Jodie Clark, who set themselves a five-year plan in April 2019 when they bought the property, are well ahead of schedule.
They spent 30 years traveling Australia, restoring historic homes to their original state, with the Perricoota project by far the most difficult.
Barry, a shearer who bought his first home at the age of 19, and his Perth-born wife who shares his vision of a blend of modern comfort and a heritage environment, are set to embark on the next stop on their journey.
A museum paying homage to the role played by the station in the development of the border region will be one of the next projects of the owners of the waterfront property.
It will be housed in the Historic Stables, which is a short walk from the 10-bedroom, two-story 1850s house that the Clarkes now call their home.
Everywhere you look, there is a story, whether it’s the Packing Shed which houses a 300-person reception center, or The Quarters – once occupied by fruit pickers and now offering a unique accommodation experience.
A five bedroom house that was the director’s residence when the Watson family owned the station got a facelift, and then there’s the stables building, which has been moved to the site – brick by brick – there’s more of a century.
The Clarks share a vision of retaining the historic values of the resort, while providing a five-star experience for those who want a modern experience with a 19th-century twist.
No stone is overlooked in the pursuit of the master plan for the property, which from what I have understood is constantly evolving in the minds of its owners.
A major element of this plan is to share the story through the existing structures on the building – starting with a mural on the property’s water tower.
A four-sided mural will be a tribute to the history of the iconic farmhouse. It will feature fruit pickers, paddle steamer Emmylou and original owner James Maiden.
Famous Melbourne artist Damian Cazaly, winner of the Rochester Mural Festival and known for his work with several major organizations, including the Richmond Football Club, will paint the mural leading up to the property’s 2023 celebrations.
The water tower sits next to the reception center, which faces a pair of winding twists and turns of the Murray River.
Perricoota is an Aboriginal word meaning “deep hole”; A history student, Barry was quick to explain that in the big bend of his new home is a 20m deep section of river.
The Clarks are working closely with Alan Hardy and Maureen Baker to celebrate in two years the 40th anniversary of the shooting at Perricoota Station of the Australian production company Crawfords All The Rivers Run miniseries, which catapulted the careers of its stars . Sigrid Thornton and John Waters.
The Clarks are the seventh owners of the historic Perricoota resort – 178 years after a founding father of the Moama community, James Maiden, first established the property.
This is their 10th ‘historic renovation’ and follows that of a property in the South Australian border town of Lucindale.
The Clarks have mainly focused their efforts on farm properties over the past few years, in accordance with Barry Minyip’s education.
But, and the two immediately agreed, their “turnaround” days are over. Perricoota Station will be their home and potentially part of their daughter Jessica’s or their son Mitchell’s life.
Why the Perricoota station?
“A 40-year-old friend Wayne Stanley showed me this property 20 years ago,” Barry said.
“When it finally went up for sale and a neighbor of our Lucindale property wanted to buy our house, we didn’t hesitate.
Originally a panel beater, Barry can handle most things; he said his dream and Jodie’s dream was to get the station back to perfect condition.
They have a big mission, 259 acres and 4 miles of river front, not to mention several buildings scattered around the 36 room farm – which will likely be Barry’s last stop.
“We’re probably going to do four or five pieces at a time. It is about 100 squares and has three cellars, ”he said.
On each occasion Barry and Jodie have honored the role of original owner James Maiden in the development of the property; a sign in the bathroom of the Maiden Wing – the original Maiden home – signifying their commitment to her memory.
Ron Watson, whose family has owned Perricoota Station for 100 years, is a key player in maintaining the property’s heritage atmosphere.
Ron enjoys spending hours with the Clarkes, sharing the history of the place and how best to honor it during their renovation.
If the Clarkes weren’t history students before they came to Perricoota, they certainly are now, with Ron regularly arriving at their doorstep with files of documents and photographs.
On each occasion, the Clarks have included a historic piece in the station’s accommodation quarters – headboards, coffee tables and bathroom decorations – all providing a reminder of a bygone era.
Adrian Worswick is the ham of the Clarks’ renovating sandwich; he’s the keeper responsible for making sure things are done to spec in the pair’s absence.
With a particular desire to preserve the history of the property, the stables will eventually become, according to the Clarkes, the mainstay of their work.
“We have big plans to tell the story of the station through the Stables Museum,” Jodie said.
“A lot of people have had a family member, some for generations, working on the property.
“We want to make this story accessible to people and tell their stories.”
Unsurprisingly, the couple also have a penchant for philanthropy, and with every element of their dream fulfilled, they are determined to share in their success.
“We really want to support the local community. Wherever we can, we will do things and organize events that can raise funds for local organizations, ”said Jodie.
Perricoota station is already a major partner of the Echuca Racing Club and every part of the development of the property has involved traders from Echuca and Moama.
“We used local trades wherever we could. Our builder is Adam Mundy from Rochester, ”said Jodie.
“He spent the better part of two years here. He even hired an apprentice, Tom, who spent most of his first year working at the station.
There is a constant reminder of the era of paddle steamers, with the Emmylou arriving at the Clarks Gate at least once a week, having traveled 63 miles from Echuca.
“They usually stop at Deep Creek and take a few days to get here. The paddle steamer is going about four kilometers an hour, ”Barry said.
“It’s a little slower upstream.
Jodie and Barry have done the research to the point that they now feel comfortable taking the final steps to bring together all of their dreams for the property.
“We really want to share the story with our visitors. From the last hand-to-hand fight that took place here in front of 700 people brought to the property on horseback and cart in 1876, to the filming of this iconic series.
“There are so many stories for people to follow,” Barry said.
Over the next 12 months, the people of Echuca and Moama, as well as tourists who will no doubt flock to the verdant banks of the Perricoota Station River, may even get a glimpse of the renovated property.
“If we can make money for the hospital or something like that by hosting events, we will,” Barry said.
“This is our goal. Share all that this place has to offer with as many people as possible.
The Clarks have launched a Perricoota Station instagram page and new web page, which will feature photographs of historic, old and renovated buildings, as well as information on upcoming events. Visit www.perricootastationevents.com.au