There are many ways to share the tales of our years of living, and how they have been woven into existence. From the places we’ve travelled to, the people we’ve met, the loves we’ve discovered, the music we’ve danced to, the food we’ve favoured and the art we’ve been influenced by. Some of us write it in a memoir, some share it around the kitchen table, some paint it and recreate it, and some of us display it all in our homes. A visceral exhibition of our lives curated through the pieces that hold the spaces together. Just as the owners of Tashdon Homestead have done to this enchanting escape at the foot of the majestic Drakensberg mountains.
Nestled amongst a yellowwood forest, adjacent a flowing river with rock pools and cascading waterfalls, surrounded by natural bamboo, ferns and a plethora of indigenous plants, this hideaway tells a family’s multigenerational story about their love for the land and relationship with its abounding nature. What was once a fisherman’s rustic stone cottage up the hill, inspired a three-storey mountainous retreat beside the river. Set upon the river’s boulders, soaring up into the tallest branches, Tashdon Homestead welcomes you in to a labyrinth of antique cabinetry and furniture, family heirlooms, curious collectables, Persian rugs, French linens, repurposed pieces of farm machinery, recycled wooden crates, books and more books – that have all been furtively placed to invoke nostalgia. Five bedrooms – all with their own bathrooms, some of which with a bathtub beside an open fireplace – span three private levels, with queen, bunks and separate single beds, basins and wash areas, and of course, spectacular mountain views. The living, dining and entertaining spaces are all centred around the helm of the home where the cooking and feasting occurs. Each room being ensconced in natural light, flooding in from the tall glass windows and doors that lead out onto a beautiful deck. The separate River Cottage is just an amble down a pathway, 200 metres away from the main house, for additional accommodation should your family be as bountiful as the owners’.
As you head out into the wilderness – aside from wandering through the natural bush towards the river and its pristine waters, with elevated lookout decks and shaded reading spots from above – there are plenty of easy walking and more adventurous hiking trails to explore during the day. You’ll be likely to come across the odd family of baboons, the occasional mountain reed buck and bush pig, or a rare porcupine sighting. The incredible birdlife of raptors, cape vultures, jackal buzzards, and olive wood peckers – to name but a few – will be taking flight for you to gawk your avid birding eyes over. If you don’t fancy venturing too far, the beautiful walled rose garden and orchard, as well as the gorgeous greenhouse full of herbs and medicinal plants like turmeric and geraniums, are lovely to meander through.
It has to be said, that even though there is an abundance of nature on the doorstep, there are those days – whatever the weather – when you’d rather remain indoors, lapping up the next chapter. Little reading nooks and writing tables, window seats and even a wine cellar call for your occupation. The charisma of every spot seduces you into a quiet, solitary slumber, revealing yet another Tashdon tale.
What we love!
- Walking into the Homestead is like walking into an antique store, or a museum that embraces and inspires, rather than overwhelm. It’s not just the outdoors that beckons you into wilderness to explore all that surrounds the property, but you can equally get lost and escape into all of the collections inside too.
- The walled rose garden with its hundreds of roses that have all been planted in accordance with colour. Dark reds to dark pinks, to pale creams and apricots.
- Swimming in the crystal clear waters of the river and spending hours on the rocks.
What you need to know…
- The River Cottage is totally independent from the main house and can be rented out separately, or together.
- The nearest town, Mooi River, is only a 30-minute drive away.
- There are a number of walking trails around the entire 148-hectare property. You are at liberty to explore the whole nature reserve. There is a walking guide available to take you up the mountain and around the nature reserve, should you wish to learn more about the flora and fauna.
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie