When Edwina Bartholomew took on the role of Sunrise weather presenter in 2013, little did she know it would completely unlock a side hustle that, 10 years later, still leaves her “fired up”.
Venturing to every small town in Australia to present the weather, the journalist fell in love with country living.
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When she returned to Sydney to become Sunrise’s entertainment – and later news – presenter in 2016, she had “a hankering to be outside of Sydney”.
Adding to the desire to live a regional lifestyle was Eddy’s husband Neil Varcoe – who was born and raised in the country and whose “heart (remained) in the country” despite moving to Sydney for career reasons.
“We had this idea that we wanted to buy something – we wanted a constant in our family’s lives,” Eddy said on the Hosting With Heart podcast.
“Both of us really wanted a place where our kids and family would constantly return to no matter where we were living in Sydney.”
Yet to welcome children, the couple took the plunge and, in 2016, purchased Warramba, a property they turned into a luxury farm retreat on 40 hectares in the Greater Blue Mountains.
To kickstart the process, Neil moved to the farm while Eddy remained in Sydney for her Sunrise commitments.
“The initial thought was, ‘We’ll just do a quick IKEA kitchen’, but then we saw the potential of what it could be,” she said.
“Neil was trying to navigate fencing and tanks and farming – he essentially moved out there for a year.”
Eddy said that, particularly early into the process of opening the property up for guests to stay, she struggled to juggle the side hustle with her job.
“I work a pretty full-on day job and I was spending my weekends and time off up there re-ordering the linen or labelling or changing the toilet rolls – it was kind of annoying,” she said.
They later expanded the team to have staff nearby who could assist with day-to-day issues while they were in Sydney.
The couple also invested in digital marketing, spending $5000 on a website that allows potential guests to book directly, compared to via online home-sharing sites.
“It feels more gratifying to know that all the money we make there can go back into the property,” she said, explaining that they were losing around $30,000 annually to Airbnb fees.
Expanding their property side hustle, the couple purchased The Victoria, in the historic town of Carcoar in NSW, which they now plan to turn into a boutique hotel.
“We’re still in a little bit of shock. We had to sell our house in Sydney to do it,” Eddy said of the decision.
“But we had seen potential for Warramba. We had the same feeling we had when we bought Warramba that it was something special and unique.
“My husband had been working in tech for Twitter, so for us, instead of a big mortgage in Sydney, we thought we would invest in a business that we could build for our family.”
Eddy shared that Neil is leaving behind his role in digital media to become a full-time farmer for Warramba and to help with developing The Victoria.
“My husband will move out there in the next couple of weeks – we’re kind of wrapping our head around it at the moment,” she shared.
“We did the same thing at the farm before we had kids. If he’s working in Sydney at an 8-6pm job in the city anyway, he’s kind of not seeing much of the kids.
“This way we can have weekends together and that quality time.”
The couple has two children – Molly, three and Tom, one.
“Hopefully the payoff in the long term is great and we’re excited about it!” she said of the project.
“It’s got us all fired up!”
As for whether Eddy and her family would locate to the country full-time, it does not seem likely in the near future.
“I love my job and I adore what I do – no plan to move out there full time,” she said.
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