A young couple on the Darling Downs have finally achieved their dream of transforming their farm into a purpose-built wedding and event venue.
Kate Stewart-Moore and Oliver Hinds had been hosting smaller functions at Bunnyconnellen, a 100ha property at Crows Nest, north of Toowoomba, but they had grander plans.
Then came the pandemic - a now or never moment for the pair.
"That gave us the opportunity to have a bit of a break and to do the renovations," Kate says.
So in January this year they got serious, hiring builders to renovate the old dairy machinery shed.
They expanded the floor space, installed insulation, put in floor to ceiling glass and affectionately named it 'The Shed'.
The timber used for their new bar front even has a personal touch, being recycled floorboards from an old shearing shed from Dunluce - the Stewart-Moore family property at Hughenden.
Kate counts themselves lucky they could get the work done given the trade and materials shortage.
"They pretty well smashed it out in four months. All the stars aligned. All the tradesmen just came together and made sure everything was perfect for that first wedding for us," Kate says.
"I hear of people waiting for renovations for a couple of years now, even for small jobs, so we're so lucky that the team worked so hard to get it done for us."
With their first wedding booked for April, the process went "swimmingly".
"The last thing to go in was the floor to ceiling glass, which is quite spectacular. They're huge panels. They went in on the Thursday afternoon and we had a wedding Saturday morning," Kate says.
Kate and Oliver recently took ownership of the farm from Kate's parents and lifetime graziers Ninian and Ann Stewart-Moore, who bought the place in 2016 and moved down with their Merino flock from Hughenden.
"Dad and mum are still, luckily for us, still very involved in the maintenance and the running of the grounds."
And with restrictions on weddings and events lifted, business is returning.
"Whether it's a combination of the new space being so versatile and the location being what people are looking for, the wedding business seems to be a lot more positive moving forward than it has been in the past two years," Kate says.
Kate and Oliver hope to host 40 weddings per year - a number that is looking more and more achievable.
"2022 is manageable, and then we're really starting to get quite busy for 2023 and 2024, which is very exciting. So people are looking forward with a bit of hope I think," Kate says.
Set among olive groves and rolling green hills, but still a short drive to Toowoomba and a couple of hours from Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Kate says Bunnyconnellen offers the outdoors in a convenient setting.
"We offer country hospitality. We're not a wedding factory in any way. We share our home and offer a personal experience for couples," she says.
"We don't want to not have a personal experience with each couple. We want to know their names. We all get along. We help them out in any way that we can."
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