To most people it’s probably better known as Drover’s Run from the series McLeod’s Daughters, but the historic home at the end of this driveway has been the vision of a dream for local businessman Stefan Ahrens. Ever since he was a kid, he’s been in love with the Kingsford Homestead in the Barossa Valley. Leigh: So Stefan you’ve had a long association with this property haven’t you?
Stefan: Yes I really grew up here as a child, we used to come here to ride motorbikes as a child help on the farm learn to drive all those things. So I really have Kingsford in my veins.
Leigh: And it’s an amazing property it really is unique.
Stefan: It is, it’s a Georgian property. This was all finished in 1856 and the stone all came out Edinburgh as ships ballast so it is gorgeous.
Leigh: And a little bit of work has gone into it I’m told?
Stefan: It has. We’ve been renovating this for nearly three years we’ve got a wonderful team of local tradesmen who have put the polish on the place and my wife Leanne has done the interior decorating so it’s something we’re really proud of we believe we have that real jewel in the South Australian crown.
Leigh: What do you want this to be known as?
Stefan: We want this to be known as the number one luxury food and wine accommodation experience in Australia. We’re on the fringe of the Barossa, got wonderful wines, produce second to none, we have an amazing menu with our chef and our five course meal is superb.
Over the decades Kingsford Homestead has been the proud home of the King, Angas and Fotheringham families and it’s still a working farm today. Original features such as the cedar staircase and the slate flagged entrance doors have been carefully brought back to life under the careful eye of Leanne Ahrens… and it’s been no small job!
Leanne: The place was let to ruin really, there were all sorts of things on ceilings from filming McLeod’s Daughters and it hadn’t been renovated for a very long time. Leigh: Because a film set is not a home.
Leanne: No exactly and you actually only realise that once you saw it inside, it came across completely differently on camera.
And what a difference Leanne’s touch has made! Offering guests an all-inclusive package of accommodation food and wine, Kingsford Homestead now boasts six beautifully decorated bedrooms upstairs – all with ensuites, plus outside, the original Stonemason’s Cottage has also been lovingly restored.
The dining room, lounge and library are all are communal areas for guests to enjoy.
Leigh: It’s a big job, how did you go about designing this as a space for people to enjoy?
Leanne: We wanted to keep it in a classic look but not too heritage looking and because the house is fairly plain in its architecture it lent itself to that so we kind of gone a little bit modern and contemporary but keeping it classic and complementing the age of the actual home.
Leigh: So Leanne when you first walked in what did you think?
Leanne: We thought this was going to be a way bigger job than we anticipated but you could see the grandness of the actual home and realised its potential.
Leigh: So what was the worst part, what was the part you looked at and just went ‘Oh My’?
Leanne: Um well initially probably the worst things were the colours of the rooms gawky bright colours which was a simple thing to fix. Secondly probably the most challenging was to try to get an ensuite in every room. So that was probably the most challenging and trying to make it a reasonable size ensuite so that it is luxurious.
And while there’s plenty of elegance inside the homestead, there’s another surprising touch of luxury outside…
Leanne: The North Para River runs through the property and we’ve actually designed a riverside bath which is a unique experience to Kingsford. So people can actually take a nice warm bath out down the river and that’s a special experience.
Leigh: I have to ask, what’s your favourite part of the house now?
Leanne: Yeah I probably would say the cellar. Its’ got a great atmosphere, nice and tight and a really good feeling in the cellar.
Kingsford Homestead now offers a unique experience for lucky guests. A luxury Barossa base on 90 odd hectares which has been home to landed gentry and television stars … and is now open for everyone to enjoy.
Leigh: When you were a kid and riding motorbikes and stuff around here did you ever in your wildest imagination think that you would own it and it would look this beautiful?
Stefan: Not as a child but certainly later in life. When Channel 9 first bought it Leanne and I made the decision that we would try and buy the place and it was going to be the family home. But then Channel 9 bought it and in hindsight it was a fantastic thing because it was great for the local area and South Australia and so now we’ve bought it off Channel 9, everybody’s won out of it so that’s wonderful.