WORDS: Alice Moffitt | IMAGES: Marnie Hawson
A character-filled cottage on a former dairy farm at Molyullah in Victoria’s north-east, two and a half hours from Melbourne, makes for an idyllic country getaway where old meets new.
When Bec and Angus Macdougall were looking for a ‘weekender’ within two hours drive of their Melbourne home, the couple relaxed their distance criteria a little when they found Dunmore Farm. They instantly fell in love with the potential of the property which they bought in late 2017.
“It has a great feel to it. It was quite run-down but we wanted something we could restore and it had numerous buildings we could bring back to life. Once it settled, we realised how much work we had ahead of us. There were moments we thought, ‘What have we done?’,” says Bec.
In the first year, the couple made regular weekend trips to restore the property’s 1860s weatherboard cottage with the vision of turning it into short-stay accommodation.
Despite their initial ‘weekender’ plans, Bec and Angus moved to the farm permanently in 2018 and live in the property’s other house, a 1950s bungalow.
“Our first priority was the cottage. Angus really wanted to move in there, but I knew its beautiful old-world charm was a lovely space to share with guests. We didn’t do anything structural, just aesthetics, so it’s intentionally still in its original form. We were keen to bring it back to life, yet maintain its integrity.”
The three bedroom cottage, one of the area’s oldest houses, now sleeps up to six guests and typically attracts couples and young families from the city looking to unwind.
“It’s an idyllic setting and has a wonderful sense of ‘coming home’,” says Bec.
“It’s a rustic environment and an authentic farm-stay but with beautiful comforts like French bed linens and underfloor heating. Our guests like to wander the beautiful gardens or take a walk around the farm. There’s an established fruit orchard and veggie garden and guests love being able to collect fresh eggs from the chickens. We love sharing what we grow.”
Located 20 minutes from Benalla in the foothills of Victoria's High Country, guests use The Cottage as a base to explore the surrounding area.
“We’re central to King Valley, the gourmet Milawa region, Beechworth and Mansfield. There are so many incredible producers nearby and also lots of family-friendly activities like bush walks, mountain-biking, kayaking, fishing and the Silo Art Trail. This region really caters to everyone.”
Angus, who grew up at nearby Cobram, had always dreamed of having his own farm. Fittingly, he now runs a herd of Black Angus cattle on the 60-hectare property.
The couple, who have a two and a half year old daughter Emme, also own two coffee businesses and say they’re fortunate to combine family and business life on the farm.
“Emme Mac Black is our ethical, sustainable, specialty coffee brand. We sell whole beans, ground coffee and compostable capsules as well as coffee machines and accessories to hospitality and accommodation venues – as well as make-at-home customers.”
Bec’s background in branding and marketing shines in their other business, The Branded Coffee Co, which helps hotels and other brands create personalised coffee (using Emme Mac Black), complimented by customised, branded coffee machines and glassware.
Bec and Angus regularly visit friends and family in Melbourne but Dunmore Farm feels like home.
“We weren’t expecting to move up here and certainly not so quickly,” says Bec.
“It really caught me by surprise how much I loved it, especially after growing up in the city. I thought I was moving to the country to live a slow, simple life, but I’ve never been busier. Having our own property has facilitated a lot of creativity and it’s been really rewarding on so many fronts.”
Originally built in the late 1800s, and restored keeping its old world charm whilst adding modern conveniences, The Cottage at Dunmore is equipped with everything you need to make your country stay a comfortable and