Grain Shed Retreat wins top national award

The Grain Shed Retreat wins Airbnb Best Regional Stay award

Life & Style
ON THE MAP: Bel du Bois and Neil Erskine's Grain Shed Retreat has won the inaugural Airbnb Best Regional Stay award. Photo: Supplied.

ON THE MAP: Bel du Bois and Neil Erskine's Grain Shed Retreat has won the inaugural Airbnb Best Regional Stay award. Photo: Supplied.

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A renovated grain shed has taken out a top national holiday award.

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A 100-year-old grain shed turned luxury holiday house at Goomburra has taken out Best Regional Stay in Airbnb's first ever Host Awards.

Situated one-hour southeast of Toowoomba, The Grain Shed Retreat sits on a 335-hectare property owned by the Erskine family, and is scattered with waterholes, waterfalls and walking tracks.

The property name, Tarragunda, is an Indigenous word for 'string of waterholes' inspired by the local valley.

Award winners were selected based on Airbnb data, guest scores and reviews, with oversight from a panel of judges that included interior stylist Steve Cordony and expert superhost Merrydith Callegari, who sits on Airbnb's global host advisory board.

Hosts Neil Erskine and Bel du Bois were caught off guard by the win and were pleased the region had received recognition.

"We were over the moon and completely surprised by it," Ms du Bois said.

"I think it's great for this region. It's nice that little old Goomburra gets recognised.

"We've obviously got Main Range National Park and Gordon Country [campgrounds] up the road from us, which are very popular destinations for camping and bushwalking, so it's nice to have this area noticed by the rest of the country.

"We found out a lot of people that come and stay are from the coast or from Brisbane and have lived in Queensland all their life but have never actually been out this way to explore the region."

The idea to start an Airbnb came about four years ago when Ms du Bois decided to take her therapy practice out of the clinical setting and operate from the property within an outdoor context, using nature as a framework.

"This lovely old grain shed was sitting empty on the property and I used to say to Neil, 'Wouldn't it be great to be able to incorporate this beautiful old shed into the therapy practice somehow', and so we started just mulling over a few ideas," she said.

"We decided we'd like to give the opportunity to some of the families that we work with to put some accommodation on the property if they ever wanted to do a farm stay, because a lot of them don't get opportunities to do that sort of thing."

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The couple then reached out to Airbnb in April 2019 to capture a wider audience.

Ms du Bois said for the restoration, they wanted to keep it as authentic as they could and wanted to source as many local resources as possible.

They milled timber from the property, used local sandstone for the kitchen bench tops and up-cycled casement windows from an old house that was being demolished in Stanthorpe.

As they were gathering these materials, a local builder who could see their vision came on board and helped them put it all together.

"We wanted it to look authentic but inside be quite luxurious and special for people that came to stay," Ms du Bois said.

The wellness studio is an optional extra for guests who stay in the retreat. It sits atop one of the hills, has a 360-degree view, and is set up for massage, yoga and meditation.

Ms du Bois said the retreat is booked until mid-January and is hoping to welcome back interstate guests in the future.

Judge Merrydith Callegari said the historical old grain shed had been lovingly renovated into a private bush sanctuary.

"The interior doesn't shy away from the shed's origins, in fact it celebrates it," Ms Callegari said.

"The scenery is peaceful but dramatic with horses in the paddocks and a private waterhole where you can take a welcome dip when it's hot.

"Neil and Bel show their commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by working with them to protect sacred sites on their property.

"I also really love the fact that Neil and Bel were able to make this wonderful retreat wheelchair accessible."

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