You might be forgiven for thinking, as you walk up the gravelled circular driveway of the Tarndwarncoort Homestead and approach the historic bluestone building, that you are going back in time.
The strong basalt walls clothed in Virginia creeper, the hand-hewn stones of the cider house and stables, the monkey-puzzle tree and hundred year old cypress all speak of early settlement of Victoria.
In that you would be right, as Tarndwarncoort, or Tarndie to its friends, was built by the Dennis family in 1840 after they arrived from Cornwall and chose this pastoral corner to make their home and their farm.
It has played a pivotal role in the development of the Polwarth sheep – bred especially for the conditions of southwest Victoria, and now found throughout the world.
Norman, Alexander, Noel, Bob Dennis (bottom right)
And is that Wendy??
But in other ways you are also walking into the future of wool farming and the creation of fine yarns for makers of all things woven, knitted, crocheted and spun. The sixth generation of the Dennis family, Tom and Alastair are now gradually taking over the reins of the farm, the agritourism and the wool growing, processing and sales that this property boasts.
In doing so they are creating a vibrant centre for those impassioned pattern makers, dyers, spinners and knitters who love the Polwarth wool for its strength and softness. Groups of eager wool worshippers are now flocking (pun intended!) to discover new ranges of colours and mixes, such as the latest yarn.
The Henry, a grey and white mix of such delicious texture that visitors have to hold it and feel its warmth, is made from a mix of Polwarth and alpaca wools and created in collaboration with Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill near Cobden.
On a visit to Tarndie you can enjoy the country life in The Farmer’s Cottage or the faded grandeur of Tarndwarncoort Homestead (overnight stays are recommended), tour the farm, pat sheep, visit the wool shop and enjoy coffee and simple traditional fare from the kiosk while soaking up the sunshine in the courtyard.
The Woolshop and Kiosk are open every Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm.