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FEATURE LISTING: Historic residence at Robe

A major landmark in the history of Robe, Justine and Scott Fennell have loved living in Karatta House, but now it’s time for new custodians to take their place.

Driving along the Limestone Coast, Justine and Scott Fennell would wind down their car windows in the sheer excitement of approaching Robe and breathe in the fresh, ocean air.

Although meeting in Melbourne, the couple always loved Robe and have strong connections to the area through Scott’s family.

“Scott’s family has been part of Robe for many years and have enjoyed fishing in the area, including at the bottom of the cliffs along the shoreline of Karatta Beach,” Justine says.

In 2008, Justine and Scott shared their nuptials on Robe’s foreshore and, soon after, moved to the town together.

After living in Robe for eight years, Justine and Scott purchased Karatta House, a magnificent heritage mansion gracing the shores of Lake Butler Marina only a stone’s throw from Guichen Bay’s beach.

The seven-bedroom, three-bathroom masterpiece was built in 1858 by wealthy pastoralist, Henry Jones, as a summer residence for his wife, Frances Eliza Caton.

In the late 1860s, the property was leased by Sir James Fergusson, the governor of South Australia, and a servant’s quarter and kitchen were added, which Justine and Scott now run as an Airbnb cottage for guests to enjoy.

Justine and Scott have raised their two children, Frederick and Betty, in the home with plenty of opportunities for fun and exploration.

“Over the years, we have made fond memories of campfires on the beach and adventures exploring the beautiful rock pools with our children,” Justine says.

“During the summer, we would open the French doors on the northern side [of the home] and enjoy the sea breeze from the extensive veranda. In the peak season of summer, you hear nothing but the peace and quiet of the waves.”

On the southern side of the home in the dining room, the family can enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of the boat harbour with amateur fishermen coming and going with their day’s catch of crayfish, as well as the professionals returning from their early morning starts.

These upstairs rooms soak in the sunshine with endless views from well-situated windows, one of which tunnels through the home with views from the beach through to the marina.

Even as the town bustles with visitors in the summer, the family has their own space to enjoy Robe’s shimmering beaches from Karatta House’s sprawling lawns alongside friends who stay throughout the holidays.

“Scott has built a gorgeous, rather large treehouse that is positioned in a 150-year-old fuchsia fig with a flying fox attached,” Justine says.

“The children go fishing with their grandparents in a boat literally at the front. We walk out the front of the house and we are onto the boat’s harbour.”

The couple has renovated parts of the home, painting rooms, performing general structural maintenance and adding modern heating.

“It is a completely different experience in the wintertime,” Justine says. “It is a solid, warm and cosy house and there is no rattling even with howling winds.

“We have installed a modern gas fireplace in the upstairs lounge and from there you can look out of the French doors towards the beach or boat harbour.”

Justine and Scott adore the lifestyle that comes with residing in Robe and love to engage with and support their community.

When Justine isn’t busy running the Airbnb, you can find her volunteering at Robe’s Surf and Lifesaving Club. Scott volunteers with the Robe Golf Club when he isn’t working in helicopter sales as a helicopter engineer.

“He was president of the golf club for many years and I am very proud,” Justine says. “He is responsible, alongside the golf club committee and volunteers, for transforming the club into what it is today.”

Ready for a change and with new opportunities on the horizon, the family is selling Karatta House for a new generation of custodians to enjoy, but are not planning to leave Robe behind any time soon.

“We have such a wonderful bond with everybody here,” Justine says. “It is such a beautiful town to reside in.”

The sale is being handled by Geoff Saunders and Grant Schubert of Elders Real Estate.