By Christine Webster
Visitors to a Barmera bed and breakfast in South Australia’s Riverland can step back into the days of post-WWI settlement as well as learn about a 1970s love story, which lasted almost four decades.
Owners of Crossfield Cottage Mark and Carolyn Huckel purchased the tired old 1920s property in January 2015 and spent two years renovating the humble abode.
“We had always wanted to create a B&B, but we had never found the right place or location,” Carolyn says.
This dream became a reality when Mark discovered the old Barmera cottage, which was the childhood home of his friend, David Crossfield.
David’s parents, John and Margaret, bought the property in 1976 and was the first and only home the couple ever owned. Margaret died in 2006 and John in 2013.
The Huckels first expressed interest in buying the property from David and his sister Emma, when they were helping them sort through things in the home, after their father’s death.
“Two years later they came back to us and said we are going to be ready to sell in six months, are you interested?” Mark says.
The Huckels saw great potential in the property, set among a picturesque country landscape surrounded by vineyards, fruit orchards and natural bush.
The house was originally built to accommodate WWI veteran Thomas Bawden and his wife Rachel.
Its original stove has been saved and used by the Huckels in the outdoor area, while the white baltic pine floorboards inside the home were also spared.
Items dating back to the 1920s such as vintage telephones, farming tools, kitchen scales and replica war medals are also on display in the lounge room, presenting a glimpse at a bygone era.
Thomas died in 1964 and the house was then purchased by its second owners, another WW1 veteran Albert Jones and his wife, Alice.
The Crossfields were then the third owners of the property and lived there for four decades, so the B&B still features a number of items which belonged to them.
Much of the Crossfield’s original kitchen and cupboards have also been preserved.
A coal heater and wooden dressing table are prominent features in the front bedroom and the triangle she used to summon her family to meals hangs proudly in the entertaining area outside.
Many of the flowers Margaret Crossfield loved are still grown in the garden and some older residents who are familiar with the species have also given bulbs for the Huckels to plant.
It is evident the couples’ love for each other was strong, for example in the lounge room where the Crossfield’s favourite courting song, The Seven Daffodils is recognised with a painting by Jamahl Pollard, a talented Riverland artist with impaired vision.
Guests can read the words of the song in the Crossfield Cottage history book inside the B&B.
Many Barmera locals who knew the Crossfields have embraced the renovation of the cottage and property.
The B&B was finally opened by the Huckels in March 2017, after many months of hard work, with Mark Huckel saying the encouragement they received from friends and locals kept them committed to the project.
The Huckels endeavour to ensure the products at their B&B are from the Riverland or other parts of SA if they aren’t available locally.
This includes Riverland wine, dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit and meat from a local butcher.
“Our aim is to enable guests to stay in a cottage featuring character, charm and a dash of luxury and enjoy our beautiful region,” Carolyn Huckel adds.
Header photo features Crossfield Cottage owners Mark and Carolyn Huckel.
Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>
These inspiring regional stories are made possible by: