A Native of Sydney, Australia, and an import to California in the 80’s, Concetta always held a place in her heart to return “home”, one day…
Without clicking her ruby heels three times, she finally found her way back with the discovery of her odored “Tooraloo” farm in 2013.
Originally the historic McSwan Family dairy farm for generations, the farm had been sadly neglected. It was listed as an estate sale on Farmbuy.com when her dream showed up! Sitting at her computer late one night at her home in San Diego, she was forwarded her a link saying “ I think I found your Federation farm in Byron Bay!”. The rest is Her-Story…
Concetta quickly contacted the agent who listed the property, and after an iPhone tour, she placed an offer the next day that was accepted. Concetta had bought “Tooraloo” sight-unseen! (Concetta’s soon to be told story of the farm she saved).
She now owned a farm. Set on 12 pristine green rolling acres, with an original heritage farmhouse perched up on a slight hilltop, the property overlooked a valley that once belonged to it! Piecemealed down to the last parcel, now finally, it was rescued.
Tooraloo was in desperate need of major restoration. Many would have simply demolished it, but Concetta’s artist eye saw the beauty that it once was which was shrouded by time and abandonment. Unknowingly it was a project that will take Concetta over 10 years to ultimately complete. It was 3 years before she could transplant her young family and 10 pets there. Only today in 2020, 7 years later, has she realized the final transfer of her 25 year fine art business from the USA, with the latest grand opening of The Concetta Antico Gallery on August 1. Tooraloo and her dream are getting finally getting there!
Where to start?
First the original 1900 Federation farmhouse was completely restored. It’s original cladding was covered in plastic siding. The from verandah had been fully enclosed with aluminum windows. The architraves had been removed. Historic windows had been removed. Kitchen and bathroom were inoperable. They was no water, or heat, or adequate lighting. Everything had to be repaired, replaced of removed. The task was Herculean!
At the same time the old machinery shed was converted to the “Old Timer” now known as The Barnstay. With no sub-floor that task was daunting. Two tin adjuncts on the building were immediately removed, (one an old roadside cookhouse and the other a small tin store). Relocated, they are now the tin arched seat, the perfect place to watch the sunsets from (which if you look carefully on the back it has a sign saying “Welcome To Byron Bay” painted on it). The other has become what will soon be The Honest Produce Roadside Store which will host pecans, passionfruit, papayas and protea – all grown on the property which is A1 agricultural land.
Next , all the rustic dwellings, including the garages, carports, sheds and a chicken coop, (which were constructed of hand-hewn wooden slabs harvested on the property), were repaired. One dwelling, now the Tool Shed, housed an old metal copper and was off its foundations. Tradesmen told Concetta to “demo it”, but in her indomnible style, she hitched it to a 4 wheel drive with chains and literally hauled it back onto its footings! It stands today, restored an a testimony to her vision that she would not compromise.
The grounds were eventually cleared and 16 large skips of trash were removed including 5 cracked water tanks! A new bore was dug and fresh Myocum Valley drinking water unearthed. Next a new in-ground concrete pool was added and fenced in the style of the era of the rest with pressed tin that came form another beautiful historic home that was not so lucky on Coolamon Scenic Drive across the valley! The old Federation portion of the farmhouse then received a 100 sq mtr addition, fashioned to match beautifully. As owner-builder, white card in hand, Concetta used vintage doors and stained glass windows, antique gables, iron gates and many other architectural adornments she imported from the USA to add the charm that is now seen. Six 40 foot steel containers were shipped from Long Beach, CA with the treasures she would need to make Tooraloo once again “The Showplace of Myocum Valley”. A statement made by local resident George Flick who claimed that it once was a grand old lady.
At one juncture 8 carpenters were employed year-round and every detail was lovingly overseen by Concetta who would make the flight from LAX to Brisbane multiple times a year. The old creamery slab was next covered to the Boho rustic pool cabana that is a feature of the entertainment area. The vintage volcanic rock patio ( that every contractor wanted to tear up) is now an amazing historic feature of the property. She added a BBQ Hut and Fire Pit to top the party area off!
The Ancient fig trees were featured with a gravel pathway through the center and one can stand there, in majestic silence, as they view the extraordinary sunsets that cover the farm at the golden hour every day. 12 acres of pastures were cleared and dams and more are yet to be improved. This phase also saw the creation of “The Peacock Teahouse” and the French style vegetable garden, citrus and native gardens. The gardens were complete with the full excavation and restoration of the original cottage rose garden at the from of the Tooraloo farmhouse. It was unearthed to find the rock patterned pathways and re-fenced in accordance with the small stone wall that showed evidence of the original post holes. Magically, a victorian iron gate fit perfectly where the remains of the gate hinges lay…
Originally “The Swanky Shed”, a new American Style barn was next on the list on 2016, and now an approved dual-occupancy, it stands ready for her grand Impressionist-style “Concetta Antico Art Gallery” arrival. A place where she will exhibit her 100 million color masterpieces and teach others how to oil paint, both in person and online. This stunning space also doubles as “The Artist’s Residence” when Concetta is in town, so you may meet her there.
Regardless, be sure to view her masterpieces and perhaps take home her annual calendar filled with images of her work!
Currently the handicapped friendly new “Sunset Cottage” is raising its roof on the far South/Eastern pasture, and Concetta is anxiously awaiting her next building certificate to construct her art studio directly behind the gallery. But her eye is on the prize of her DA approved Eucalyptus Cafe, a project she expects to complete by Spring 2021. Along with a bandstand made from the iron gates of a mansion she found in Newrybar, where she also found historic wagon builders who made her fun and functioning gypsy style wagon parked out front!
Further additions to the farmhouse loom, along with more cabins, camping and, well, whatever Concetta can conjure next! Do come visit to see all of Concetta’s creations for yourself when next you come to Byron Bay, and be sure to stay a while!
So stay tuned for the ever-unfolding story…and yes, “Tooraloo”, for now!
The song that inspired the name
Tooraloo also mean “Goodbye” or “Farewell For Now”
Perfect for our mission of being a Farmstay