Richard Heathcote - Director of Carrick Hill
Carrick Hill is lovingly tended by 12 employees and more than 100 volunteers; the man at the helm is Director Richard Heathcote.
Leigh: Richard thank you for having us here. Now Carrick Hill I find terribly romantic because it was in fact a wedding present?
Richard: A modern wedding present Leigh, yes… the Barr Smiths gave their daughter and new son in law 20 acres and another 80 acres for privacy. So yes, it’s a gift and now it’s something we can share with everybody because it belongs to all of us in South Australia.
Leigh: Now just to look at history, with a Downton Abbey mood, is it true that they shipped parts of an English manor house here to be part of Carrick Hill?
Richard: Yes, it’s like an Ikea flat pack only 400 years only and then they got a guy here James Irwin, later Sir James Irwin Woods Bagot to put it all together, and it is a renovators job you’re right, its just pieced together and then of course every year they’d go back to Bills business in London and buy a few more things for the house.
Leigh: So they’d buy a chunk of another house and bring it back?
Richard: Well only bits, smaller bits later on… Silver, Oak furniture, a few pieces of priceless China.
Leigh: It’s a fascinating role for Carrick Hill because it really represents the blending of two of South Australia’s finest families.
Richard: It is, it is but not a popular match in its time. The Advertiser called it 'Heiress marries Shopkeeper'!
Leigh: Shock horror!
Richard: So the class structured Adelaide society British Australia in the 30s and 40s. It was pretty restrictive and that’s possibly why they built so far from Adelaide as possible but still a part of Adelaide.
Leigh: And then there were some famous names of movie stars and artists who were entertained here? Wined and dined?
Richard: Yes and slept over. Sir Laurence Olivier, Robert Helpmann, a clutch of artists… when they chose their friends and their circle it was artist’s writers and musicians. They did their duty by society but when they retreated to have fun. Leigh: They let it rip! Richard: They sure did!
Leigh: Well that was Carrick Hill then, what about Carrick Hill now because it really is about more than just wedding receptions and art exhibitions?
Richard: It is, I mean the way that we have to play our hand as it were to be smart is to interest children in the place. There’s no future to it if people that migrate here just colonise it. So we’re family friendly, you can bring the dog. You can bring your bicycle, come in for no charge, park and bring a picnic, use the lawns, gardens and bush trail to see magical things.
Leigh: I think that some people are under the misapprehension that coming to Carrick Hill is an expensive exercise but entry is free, you can just come in and enjoy the grounds.
Richard: We look at Bill Hayward, Sir Edwards’s life continually, he was a very smart guy, the best advertising campaign he ran for John Martins was the Christmas pageant.
Leigh: Of course the founder of the Christmas Pageant.
Richard: Yes… it opened the retail season and not a skerrick of advertising in the pageant and still isn’t. So why not ask everybody in and not charge a penny for the show and if you want to do other things you can.
Leigh: So the future for Carrick Hill, what are you hoping for?
Richard: Sow the seed in the minds and imagination of young people, make Mum and Dad happy and explore the environment. We’ve got 100 acres, we’re only using a third of it and I think we have some terrific things to come.
Leigh: Well maybe next weekend people might think well I’ll throw the kids and picnic basket and dog into the car and come up and enjoy Carrick Hill!
Richard: We’re ready for you!
Leigh: Gorgeous. Thank you so much.