The Water Gums story

A rural getaway dream came true

In 1996 Greg and Sylvia Ray saw an advertisement in a newspaper for a property for sale on the Barrington River, near Gloucester. Excited by the idea of building a weekender for pleasure and as a retirement income, they packed up the kids at 5am on Monday morning before work and went to have a look.

The sight and sound of the rushing river, the chiming of bell-miner birds and the sense that this lantana-infested bush-block offered an exciting adventure prompted them to commit their time and energy to the project. Never having built before, the mudbrick and cedar house presented challenge on top of challenge, and it was three years before the owner-builder couple were able to start advertising Water Gums as a weekend retreat.

That was 1999, and 24 years later, with three grown-up children and a couple of grandkids, Greg and Sylvia often have to pinch themselves to realise that they really made this dream come true.

Water Gums (Greg wanted to call it “Bunyip Chalet” but was outvoted) has hosted hundreds of guests over the years, and many return again and again to enjoy the river, the bush, the wildlife and the varied experiences the property offers. Swimming and canoeing in summer, a cosy fire in winter. Platypus-spotting, bird-watching, bushwalking and simple unwinding from the cares of day-to-day life: these are the joys of Water Gums.

Many hours, days and weeks have gone into weed removal and although weeds are something that will never be fully eliminated the effort has made an enormous positive difference to the native vegetation and wildlife.

By the way, the property is named for the tree that lines the river. The Water gum (Tristaniopsis Laurina) is a beautiful, hardy native that years of floods sculpt into weird forms on the river banks. It is truly emblematic of this piece of wild riverland.