Table Cape via Sydney, London and Scotland
World travellers Wendy and Alan Page find home on a clifftop in north west Tasmania.
For four decades, Sydney-siders Wendy and Alan led high-profile and busy careers. But a move to Tasmania brought with it the chance to relax, a greater sense of community and the opportunity to open an exquisite accommodation perched atop Table Cape on Tasmania’s northern coast. Theirs is quite an Australian Story…
To chart Wendy and Alan’s life paths is equal to setting off in a sail boat across Bass Strait. They’ve ridden opportunistic waves and taken unexpected turns from childhood to retirement. But despite years of being ‘ships in the night’ through demanding careers, one factor has remained constant. They’ve journeyed together.
Alan grew up in Devonport, north west Tasmania. At the time of high school graduation, two jobs were going. One was as an estimator. Asking what the role entailed, he was told to look out to a road being built in East Devonport and that an estimator would calculate how much dirt it required. Alan decided he could manage that. Fast forward to 1980 and Alan was co-founder, with a fellow Tasmanian, of the Page Kirkland Group of quantity surveyors and project managers, a company that would have 24 offices across 18 countries and more than 500 staff when they sold in 2009.
Wendy led a very different early life, moving from pillar to post following her father’s army career. She spent her early teenage years in Bangkok before returning to Western Australia where she left high school early, her free spirit at odds with the rigid private girl’s school regime. Taking off for London, it was on a chance ski trip to Scotland that she took fancy to an accomplished Aussie footballer (and quantity surveyor) named Alan. The couple married, leaving their London jobs behind to begin life in Sydney.
“I’d had three children when I decided it was time to go to uni,” explains Wendy. “I couldn’t decide between law and journalism but I’m so glad I chose journalism. Many of my stories related to justice issues anyway and I think I was able to be more effective as a journalist.”
After graduating University, Wendy secured a job with the ABC, forging a successful 25 years career as a journalist and one of the inaugural producers of the ABC’s flagship program, Australian Story.
The acclaimed journalist has been at the helm of several ground-breaking stories, particularly in the areas of justice, winning her first Walkley in 2002 for an Australian Story that brought the wrongfully convicted murderer John Button face-to-face with the victim’s family. Wendy won another Walkley Award for her fascinating insight into the Australian cricket culture and Barry ‘Nugget’ Rees.
More than 30 years ago, the Pages bought 250 acres of land atop Table Cape located near Wynyard. This cape is a volcanic plug with breathtaking views across Bass Strait; the remnants of a 12-million-year-old volcano. They share-farmed the property with the neighbours, crops including potatoes, onions, poppies, pyrethrum, peas, carrots, beans and a herd of deer.
“We have since sold most of the farm but kept 60 acres,” explains Alan. “After I retired, we finished the house we had started to build a few years earlier and decided to re-locate permanently from Sydney. Now we’re caught up in a whole new venture offering our home for accommodation and small events.”
Designed with family in mind, the accommodation is well suited to gatherings for milestone events like anniversaries, special birthdays or small weddings. With four bedrooms, a commercial kitchen, a lofty tower for sunset drinks and even a private beach, Table House Farm has drawn bookings from as far as America, Singapore, China, Italy, Switzerland and Malaysia.
“It has found its niche, for exactly what we intended it to be,” describes Wendy, “a place for family and friends to gather. Our own family is scattered around the world but we all get together here at least once a year here. We play heaps of croquet and our golfing son sets up a pseudo driving range, we play cricket on the beach and catch squid to throw on the barbeque.”
Although Table Cape is a long way from the bright lights and vibrancy of Sydney, the Pages are settling into rural life well, assisted in part by women’s lunches with fellow Tasmanian-based journalists and by a very welcoming local community. The couple have hosted a number of international musicians for house concerts with plans to introduce more long-table lunches where high-end chefs showcase the regional produce.
“It feels like a shift happening with tourism here in the North West,” adds Wendy. “It’s exciting to be part of that. I must admit, I railed against moving here but after two years, I’ve found it truly is a generous, welcoming, lovely community. The bucolic serenity of the whole area is something you can’t really capture anywhere else in Australia. I do keep saying, if it were the reverse and we were moving to Sydney for retirement, we’d never get the same reception. It’s extraordinary and we’ve found life is so much richer for our move.”
Find out more about Table House Farm.
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