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FEATURE LISTING: Majestic Montacute

History meets nature at this sprawling Adelaide Hills property, listed for sale this week after a magnificent transformation completed by its current owner.

It was while on a recreational carriage ride through Montacute that Vernon Weller and his two kids, Hudson and Grace, caught the first glimpse of their future home at 150 Institute Road, Montacute.

“I remember chatting to Libby, who takes you on the carriage drive, and I said to her ‘I’d love to live here – it’s beautiful’, and she said, ‘Oh, there’s a house up here for sale’,” says Vernon.

Just 27 days later, Vernon was sitting in the kitchen signing the paperwork.

But there was a lot of work to be done before it could be transformed into the dream home the previous owners envisaged.

“Unfortunately, the previous owners passed away and didn’t get to finish their dream home,” says Vernon.

“Upstairs in the master bedroom, it didn’t even have a floor.”

And so, Vernon, who has a background in the building industry, took on the task of completing that vision.

“There’s obviously still a lot more for the next people to do, but I’ve always said we’re only custodians of the house,” says Vernon

This meant installing an ensuite downstairs, revarnishing the timberwork, paving the verandah and laying over 500 square metres of lawn.

“I was kind of setting it up for weddings. Most of the infrastructure is there for someone who wants to do weddings,” Vernon tells SALIFE.

Set on some 7.11 hectares, the house is spread across two floors.

Stepping off the wraparound verandah into the main entry hall, you will find the study to the left before making your way to the central room with its spectacular dome void.

“I collect brass horns, so, whenever the kids want my attention, they all go down to the photo gallery underneath the dome and blast the horn and that’s everyone’s signal to meet in the middle of the house,” says Vernon.

On this level, you will also find the family room, the kitchen and dining area, a laundry, the living room and two of the dwelling’s four bedrooms.

Upstairs, you will find an additional library with 8000 books, as well as a kitchen, a laundry and two other bedrooms.

The master bedroom with an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe has access to the verandah with views of the surrounding nature, including a creek and a 120-year-old oak tree.

The history of the property is also reflected in the original stone walls that were retained as part of the renovation.

Affectionately known as Ruthmary after Vernon’s two nanas, the original stone cottage dates back to 1887, while the area was once surrounded by gold mines, as well as cherry and apple orchards.

“We walk to the cherry farm in summer and they do homemade ice cream with cherries – it’s so good.”

The street was named after an old institute, which has now become a hub for the community.

“We have barbecues there, we have Christmas parties, we have Easter hunts, we have an annual bonfire and we have progressive dinners,” says Vernon.

“It’s a really great community – that’s the biggest thing I love about the area.”

Vernon says although he would struggle to choose a favourite part of the house, he loves the spacious guest lounge room.

“It’s a beautiful room. It has big windows and a lot of the time you’ll sit there and there will be a kangaroo literally two metres on the other side of the window,” says Vernon.

Among the wildlife you might see at the property is a kangaroo with her joey, a koala, a giant turtle, two giant eagles, kookaburras, a family of deer, an echidna and Vernon’s favourite, the bluebirds.

“The wildlife is amazing,” he says.

“Nine times out of ten, if we come home at night, there are at least three or four kangaroos at our front doorstep.”

Vernon tells SALIFE that although he will miss the house, he is now looking to downsize.

“I’m a single dad with two kids and it’s a 700-plus square metre home on 17 acres and probably just a bit too big for us.”

He says he will miss the feel and history of the place the most.

“A lot of people say to me the house hugs you. You feel like it’s a beautiful home.”

The sale of 150 Institute Road, Montacute is being handled by Rachel Lawrie from Ray White.