There are a few special places around the Southwest where history, natural beauty and passion for preservation all combine in perfect balance. Clover Cottage is one of those places. From the moment guests arrive, they notice the time and care that owners Petrina and Paul Thomsett have invested in their 144-year-old property. The artful landscaping, the carefully-crafted stone walls, the beautifully constructed cottages and the thoughtful layout of the property all speak to Petrina and Paul’s dedication to their home.
“We’ve been here since Boxing Day 1983,” Petrina recalls over a delicious lunch of homemade soup and quiche. “We were actually on our way to Sydney, but we came through here just to have a sticky beak because we love old houses, and that was it. It was love at first sight. We never made it to Sydney. Paul quit his job and we did the complete tree change.”
The Thomsetts are the 4th family to own Clover Cottage, one of the oldest properties in the area. The Wheatley family established the site in the 1860’s and built the house in 1875, about 38 years before Manjimup was founded. The history is evident in the style of the farm’s buildings that Paul has spent many years restoring and enhancing. “We call Paul, ‘Bob the Builder’, “Petrina laughs, “he likes a project and everything that you see here, he’s built. Because the house was so old, we wanted to keep the traditional aspects and when we restored the house, we found so many amazing features. The house was built in the 1870’s, so everything used on the property was from the property, save the glass and the fittings. Paul tried to keep with tradition; he built all the windows and doors himself. All the doors that we’ve put in are from the trees that you see either side of the driveway. And then he got into stonework that characterises so much of the property today. Most recently, he designed the cottages and built them with local help.”
In the early years of living at Clover Cottage, Paul and Petrina pursued an aquaculture business, running a trout farm from the lakes on the property. But over time, they realised that unless they were able to produce on a large scale, trout farming had its limits. So they went ‘sideways” as Petrina puts it and built the cottages. The idea was to combine the beauty of the Southern Forest’s natural environment with fishing and accommodation giving people the chance to come south and escape. The concept was a success, and so it didn’t take long though before the business model evolved again.
Petrina reflects, “We wanted this to be a place where people could experience country life- and then guests started asking if they could have a wedding… We had 3 private weddings in 2016 and then launched our first wedding season last year in 2017- it was our first advertised year.”
Since then, the wedding side of the business has gone from strength to strength. For Petrina, it is about giving couples and their families a complete experience rather than just a day of celebration. The property sleeps up to 24 people, so families can rent out the entire property for a wedding and enjoy as many days as they wish soaking up the beautiful surrounds and participating in the many activities on offer throughout the area. “We have the animals, the sheep and the donkeys,” Petrina says, “and there is the hiking, canoeing, tennis, fly fishing. We have a fly fishing instructor available for interested guests- John Vardy- and we can book him in upon request. And then there is the biking. We have the Munda Biddi trail, a favourite with cyclists, go right by our front gate. A lot of people bring their bikes and spend their weekend riding the regional trails. And, of course, we have the Mountain Bike Park in Pemberton, which is great for families. A lot of people forget how close we are to the coast here as well, we’re only 45 minutes away, so there are all kinds of fun coastal activities to enjoy too.”
So whether one is looking for the ideal wedding venue or just hoping to escape city living for a weekend of outdoor adventure and relaxation, Clover Cottage is your perfect choice.
And once you are there, sitting on your private veranda, sipping a local red and enjoying the company of friends and family as you watch fat sheep comfortably grazing in fields, you’ll know that you have found a little piece of heaven. And you will be right. Because that is what Petrina and Paul have created in their quaint, quiet corner of the world.
Clover Cottage is located at 380 Wheatley Coast Road in Manjimup