Some Bolt Hole memories...
(click on thumbnails to enlarge)
"The beautiful house in the trees with a green roof" - in springtime (above)...
...the way it looked when it was built, in September 1998...
...and one of the two ocean views that it offered.
* * *
"Where do you live?", asked a Dunsborough florist detecting her customer's American accent. She probably expected to hear something like New York or Los Angeles as the answer.
"Up on the ridge, where the old Biddle farm used to be," the customer replied.
"Yep. We have a vacation home up there.... at Quedjinup Drive and Bina Place."
"Oh, so yours is that beautiful house in the trees with a green roof?"
"That's the one. We call it the Bolt Hole. It's our hideaway from the world."
"That's some Bolt Hole!", the florist said smiling, with emphasis on "some."
Indeed, the expression that connotes a structure akin to a nuclear shelter hardly befits the sprawling 300+ square meter-stately wood frame home the American owner designed back in 1997 in Aussie style, and built in 1998 almost entirely using the local jarrah. It lies on about 11 acres of gorgeous land that combines bush and paddock (fields), Bay and valley, a horse ranch, nearby wineries, and distant Darling Range vistas that intertwine into an ever-changing scenery (see below).
But Bolt Hole is the name the first visitor to this one-of-a-kind property used when he learned of the owner's reasons for choosing this particular location for his "dream vacation home." Yet even this city slicker from Sydney, a skeptic who mocked the idea of a southwestern hideaway at first, was stunned and taken with the beauty of the place. After having spent a weekend at the Bolt Hole, he walked into a local real estate office to inquire about other properties in this area. Actions speak louder than words...
Nor was this Aussie Easterner the only Bolt Hole visitor to be smitten into looking for a place of his own in the Dunsborough/Yallingup area.
"It was love at first sight," a 40-something professional couple from Perth said of the Bolt Hole after their first visit. Not only did they end up buying a nearby property; they even decided to get married here - at a site to which their American hosts took them - the Wyse winery above the beautiful Meelup Beach (below).
No surprise there. As you can see from the satellite map below, the Bolt Hole, located in Quedjinup, is roughly equidistant from Dunsborough and Yallingup (see the satellite map). Yallingup means "place of love" in Western Aboriginal language. Quedjinup means "place of women." And Meelup, our nearest beach, means a "place of the moon." Put the three romantic notions together, and what else can you expect but to fall in love with the place, and with your loved one - all over again.
"There's some incredibly strong 'good karma' one feels here," another visitor said of the Bolt Hole. "You end up being almost mesmerized by the place. It's magical."
That's evidently how the local roos feel about the place, too, as well as the many other wild life species one can observe from the 30-meter veranda that runs along the eastern and the southern flank of the house. It's like being in an open-range zoo. The morning concerts usually open with melodic magpie tunes, soon to be followed by hungry kookaburra calls. As the sun rises over the Geographe Bay in the east, it spotlights several dozen kangaroos grazing in the paddock.
Sometimes I would put on a classical CD or play piano for the roos. They seem to like especially Beethoven or Mozart. Their heads would lift, ears would turn like little radars to tune in to the early 19th century harmonies. Whoever said that kangaroos lacked class? :-)
"What's the weather like?" my ex-wife would ask some mornings while the shades were still drawn.
"Looks like just another day in paradise," I would reply nonchalantly, echoing the words of some of the past visitors to the Bolt Hoeland local residents.
And so, "just another day in paradise" became a signature phrase for most mornings during our stays at the Bolt Hole.
"You never get bored looking at the scenery," people would say as we were having breakfast on the wide and long veranda overlooking the Bay and the valley below. "Things always change."
They do. While we were taking the beautiful scenery, on some mornings we were being watched ourselves - by a big "papa roo" perched in the bush just to the north of the house. I named him Harry. It was as if he were standing guard duty while Maddie and Greg, his presumed "wife and son," were eating breakfast in the paddock below.
As the Bolt Hole's 11 acres comprise of both open range and bush, the property is fun to explore close up, on foot, as they are from its "observation deck" - the veranda. Above is the view, for example, of "the beautiful house in the trees with a green roof" from the bush that lies just above it to the west. The west-facing guest bedroom and the southern veranda where the covered spa is located, both visible in this photo, get gorgeous views of sunsets through the bush.
In fact, the ridge above the Bolt Hole is one of the few places in the Dunsborough/Yallingup area where you can watch the sun rise in the morning over one ocean (Geographe Bay), and set at night over another (Indian Ocean). And what a sight it was...
A view of Geographe Bay at sunset (above)...
... and a view of Indian Ocean, too, on the other side of the ridge.
A short walk from where the above two photos were taken is the Maryvale horse farm and riding school. So we used to go for evening walks there and feed the horses carrots. The two "alpha" horses - "Louis" (left) and "Bruiser" (right) - became our adopted "pets." They looked for their neighborly humans every evening... or probably more accurately, for their carrots and apples. :-) Petting and feeding the two dozen or so horses was among the fondest memories from the Bolt Hole.
Others included many leisurely drives through the Busselton and Margaret River Shires' countryside where the roads often look like green tunnels as the limbs of the huge trees on each side close up overhead. There are dozens of first class wineries that offer possible stopovers for wine tasting, lunch or dinner. But our favorite spot was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, an all-family establishment with delicious carrot cakes and ice cream (right). A dozen or so guinea hens that roam and graze freely around the place are usually the "welcoming committee."
And then, just as you think you've seen it all, you may come upon some camels. Camels in Australia? Camels on a beach? A mirage after a long day's drive? No. Yet another local curiosity. Kids and adults can ride these camels on Smiths Beach, a beautiful surfing beach on the Indian Ocean, a 10-minute scenic ride from the Bolt Hole.
"Sun, surf and sauvignon" was the title of a New York Times travelogue about this jewel of Western Australia. That may be the view of occasional visitors to this tourist Mecca. But the residents who are lucky enough to have vacation homes like the Bolt Hole, wake up most mornings discovering "it's just another day in paradise."
"The beautiful house in the trees with a green roof" as seen (barely!) from Biddle Road (above), with Quedjinup Drive (left) curving lazily up the hill to meet Bina Place at the top of the Bolt Hole property.
I sold the Bolt Hole in March 2005, after having spent most of December 2004 and January 2005 there - as a farewell visit/stay. Big native bushes that we planted in 1998 have filled in the once barren sand pad on which the house was built. By the time I left, I felt I had returned this beautiful place back to nature of which I have always wanted to make it a part.
* * *
P.S. If you click on the thumbnail images right and below, you can also get some views of the interior of this house built entirely out of stone hard, yet mahogany-like beautiful jarrah wood. When I designed the house, I had a "great room" concept in mind for the interior. Later on, as my neighbors marveled over the size of it, one of them said, "my God, we could hold a Shire meeting here." :-) [Shire in "Aussie speak" means a country in Yankee English].
In 2001, I had my upright piano shipped from Arizona to the Bolt Hole. Its walnut finish didn't quite fit in perfectly with the rest of jarrah. So I set it apart from it in a separate section of the "great room," close to the fireplace, so my fingers would be warm while playing on cold nights.
Ah, a paradise claimed, created and forsaken...