A Former Log Cabin Turned Luxury Retreat On The Fleurieu Peninsula

Joe Briello and Jo Lenart have worked across various creative industries before recently turning to their true passion—land conservation and travel—in the form of accommodation business, Rtreet.

Their first of several projects to come is Timba, located on 100 acres in McLaren Vale, on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula (about 40 minutes from Adelaide). Joe and Jo chose the site for its existing natural properties and nearby attractions, which they felt weren’t capitalised in the area’s existing accommodation offerings. 

Prior to Timba, the property featured a log cabin that had been ‘let go’ over time, and cleared pastures previously operating as a cattle farm. Joe and Jo’s intent was to significantly extend the property and regenerate the surrounding landscape. 

The project started with the existing home being largely gutted, with the exception of restored original features including the timber wall that wraps around the kitchen, timber windows, timber roof, and slate floors. 

The extension was designed to match the grandeur of the natural environment without losing the existing cabin’s character, or overpowering the landscape. ‘We wanted the house to be an unobtrusive insert into the South Australian landscape, so that when it is seen from across the northern paddocks it looks as though it is simply growing out of the trees,’ says Joe. 

Ethically-sourced cypress pine cladding achieves this effect, with entirely repurposed timbers (including jarrah, eucalypt, and Oregon) within that instil an inherently rustic feel. ‘A key for us was to make this place feel warm and inviting—it is a farm in the McLaren Vale after all,’ says Joe. ‘We didn’t want to bring too much city slickness here and lose sight of what it really is.’

Other additions include an updated kitchen and new bathrooms, both of which highlight recycled materials such as tapware made using salvaged copper from the original structure, and an antique dough bowl from Eastern Europe used as the bathroom basin. 

The main house now contains three king-sized bedrooms, with the addition of the new ‘studio room’ next door with its own bathroom and en suite.

Joe and Jo were personally responsible for all the design and build interior works on Timba—from the carpentry, to plumbing, demolition, masonry, painting and building—which were completed while living on site. 

Regenerating the surrounding landscape with gardens has been a collaborative effort with landscape designers McMillan & Drew, alongside the new spa and pool built by Outside Developments. A new staircase leading down from the house leads to this outdoor area, which was previously an unused paddock, creating another area to capture and enjoy the landscape. 

Extensive land revegetation and conservation efforts have been undertaken on the land to restore its formerly cleared pastures. ‘We’ve planted thousands and thousands of native and endemic trees and species, working with trees for life to restore this formerly cleared pasture and regenerate land for our native friends, says Joe. ‘Koalas, echidnas, roos, wombats, possums are abundant on the property.’

Guests at Timba can expect to feel immersed in the environment as they relax in luxurious interiors framing stunning views and textures. ‘It’s a very sensory-heavy place,’ says Joe. ‘The smell of the cladding is so beautiful, hearing it move in the wind, or as the rain falls on the tin roof. It’s magic!

Book your stay at Timba Rtreet

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