Tallong couple Gabrielle and James Watson are saying farewell to 'Hill of Grace', their home of nearly 20 years, and to the beautiful garden they created there.
Their four-acre colonial-style homestead sold for $1.05 million last week - the first property in the Tallong Park Estate to sell for more than one million, Raine & Horne estate agent Glenn Diggle said.
"Never have we had a day that we haven't been happy here," Mrs Watson said. "We've put a lot of work into it, but we were just very blessed."
The Watsons were the second owners of the property at 27 Stringy Bark Avenue, Tallong. They bought it 18 years ago from its original owner, developer Ken Parkinson, who established the 171-block Estate in the 1980s as a rural residential area.
At that time, Mrs Watson said, the house was basic, and there was no garden. The Watsons designed and built the gardens themselves, coming down every weekend from Sydney for a decade, before moving to Tallong full-time.
"We were very lucky," Mrs Watson said. "It was a blank canvas; there was nothing in the garden, so were able to design and have exactly what we wanted."
Today, the garden is idyllic. Hedge-lined paths lead through banks of flowers (roses, tulips, daffodils, and lilies), deciduous trees (maples, birches, liquid ambers, fruit trees), and native Australian gums.
"There are so many beautiful birds," Mrs Watson said. "We have families of magpies here that are as gentle as anything; they stand beside me as I work in the garden, and hope for worms. We've got lovely little blue wrens out the front, and different wrens out the back. It's tranquillity in itself."
Inside, the property features vaulted, cedar ceilings; an elegant formal lounge; and an open-plan living and dining area.
The Watsons modernised the kitchen - now a Tasmanian oak, country-style kitchen - and added extra bathrooms and bedrooms. They changed the aluminium sliding doors to cedar; James Watson laughingly remarks they changed perfectly good doors for perfectly good doors.
The bedrooms and halls originally had a white carpet. "There was no grass whatsoever, just dirt outside; it turned to brown carpet," Mrs Watson said. The couple took up the carpets and laid down recycled jarrah from the old Perth wharf - "A bit of history," Mrs Watson said.
Besides the flowers and trees, the garden also contains a three-bedroom guest cottage / studio, a plant nursery, gazebos, garages, sheds, and an indoor and outdoor children's playground.
The Watsons' 11 grandchildren enjoy playing in 'McCubby Mansion', their nickname for the electric-powered cubbyhouse with child-sized stove and sink.
"They can slide open the perspex windows and pretend they're in a café," Mrs Watson said. "They have the best time pretending to serve their parents and, of course, us as grandparents with food."
The Watsons also set up the property's bore water supply: a kilometre of underground irrigation supplies 60,000 litres of bore water, so every plant is watered.
The Watsons are regretfully moving on for health reasons. "We're older now," Mrs Watson said. She is in her seventies, her husband in his eighties. "I do all the garden myself, and mow the lawns. I don't see the garden at all as a chore; it's my relaxation and my beauty out there, but I think the time is probably right.
"Mind you, every time I start and think about it, it brings tears to my eyes. It truly is a beautiful oasis."
The family gathered for a final party at the property last weekend. Mr and Mrs Watson will move to Wilton, near the Bingara Gorge, to be close to a daughter.
And Mrs Watson will create another garden at her new home.
"I'm lucky; it's a corner block" she said. "So that gives me a bigger area to garden, and there is no garden there. So again, I get to plan my own garden, and husband and I will set it up with water and irrigation."
Mrs Watson thought the new owners were very lucky. "It was the best move for us," he said. "We've never regretted it at all. ... Because we were on four acres, you get to do your own thing, which is lovely. We would recommend it to anyone."
Estate agent Glenn Diggle said he had expected the property to reach more than a million.
"I had a lot of doubters; people said you wouldn't hit a million dollars, but I knew what the property was offering. I've been an agent for a while; I knew the property would reach that price tag, definitely."
In fact, four offers were made on the property, all over the million-dollar mark.
The property, Mr Diggle said, is in a sought-after cul-de-sac, and close to the train, freeway, and other amenities.
The Estate also possesses two lakes, bushwalking trails, a golf course, a swimming pool, and tennis and netball courts.
"The whole estate is an amazing set-up," Mrs Watson said. "All leisure in one spot, really."
That, Mr Diggle said, is what people are looking for. "Lifestyle blocks are going like hotcakes at the moment," Mr Diggle said. He listed a block of land in the Estate park; it sold on the second day.
"Sydney buyers are snapping these properties up. I can't keep enough of them online, because they're selling."
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