top of page

Rustically refined Riverdale 1898

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

‘Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth’ Henry David Thoreau

The Riverdale survey title is Plantagenet Location 771, created in 1898. We purchased the property in 2004 and run a herd of Murray Grey cattle and have an extensive country style garden #countrystyle from which we enjoy vegetables, fruits and harvest pinot grapes for wine. #riverdalefarmpinotnoir In addition we grow flowers for use in our floral design work and run workshops for floral enthusiasts and florists. #riverdalefarm #albanyflorist #floristalbany

The cottage is located alongside the Kalgan River, named the ‘Riviere des Francais’ by the French Scientific Expedition of 1803 captained by Nicholas Baudin, a French explorer on the Ship Geographe. The Kalgan River is 140 kms long and drains into Oyster Harbour, its origin is west of the Stirling Ranges. The section located alongside Riverdale Farm is tidal.

Scottish explorer Alexander Collie (a surgeon and botanist) recorded the river as ‘Kal-gan-up’ in April 1831. It is thought to be the Noongar word for ‘place of many waters’ and also ‘place of fishes’. There are remains of Aboriginal Fish Traps in the river upstream from Riverdale 1898 #riverdale1898 along the Luke Pen Walk and also nearby at Oyster Harbour. The Fish traps are thought to be about 7500 years old. Captain George Vancouver first recorded the Fish traps in 1791. The Oyster Harbour Fish traps are best viewed at low tide and interpretive signage makes it a worthwhile visit. They are located at the end of Barameda Rd in nearby Kalgan Heights.

Archaeologist Dr William Ferguson has found artefacts in the district confirming the Menang peoples presence in the area at least 19000 years ago. The Lower Kalgan area is one of the state’s earliest farming districts. In 1829 Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a naval surgeon and explorer remarked that the land along the Kalgan River was suitable for cultivation and well adapted to the growth of the vine. We have a small vineyard growing pinot noir vines as a nod to the early French explorers of the region. Our farm was one of many properties that grew apples and pears in the early days, some for export to Great Britain. The one surviving pear tree is now fenced in the front paddock in a bid to preserve it.

The Luke Pen Walk #lukepenwalk meanders along the Kalgan River from our gateway at East Bank Rd to the Upper Kalgan Bridge (a distance of about 7km each way).

Riverdale 1898 is located on our property Riverdale Farm which we moved to in late 2004.

The cottage was built in the early 1900’s by Mr and Mrs Powell. The granite walls, some of which can still be seen underneath the front sitting room, were sourced from this property. It had a sheoak shingle roof originally but this was lost when a wildfire tore through the property.

The Powell’s were best known for their Strawberry garden. Many of the early Albany settlers made their way up the Kalgan River in spring and summer. The ferries tied up at the rickety jetty adjacent to the entry to the property from East Bank Rd. Scones, strawberries and cream were enjoyed on the banks of the river under a Marri and Jarrah leaf canopy. This is thought to have been one of Albany’s earliest tourist ventures with guests arriving on board the ‘Wolverine’. The jetty for the Powell Strawberry Gardens is thought to have been washed away in the 1939 floods.

By 2007 the cottage was in a rather distressed state. Rising moisture, rotting timbers, crumbling lime mortar and corroded roof had rendered it almost uninhabitable. The pressing question of demolish or renovate could not be put off for any longer. Funds were set aside and with as much sympathy to the original structure as possible it was restored to its former humble beginnings. A new kitchen, laundry and bathroom was constructed. The ceilings, wiring, stumps and most of the windows were replaced. Unfortunately the beautiful exposed granite had to be rendered. Many hours were spent by us painting the very old and uneven walls. Considerable effort was put into external landscaping to manage the drainage problems of the site. Over time the garden will mature nicely. The black and white photos dotted about the cottage details some of the history of Riverdale 1898 #stayinthebush (descriptions on back of photos).

In 2019, I undertook The Hosting Masterclass #thehostingmasterclass online course run by Sarah Andrews #sarahandrews of Captain’s Rest #captainsrest fame. The course content appealed to me on many levels…design orientated and full of practical information needed for running an accommodation facility.

We had been opening cottage for guests since 2007 but mainly family and friends. I felt that it could be a useful addition to the other creative projects that we undertake at our farm. I thoroughly embraced the process delighting in the research and ideas that the process opened up for me. With a background in Design it was the perfect approach!

I wanted to create an authentic experience for our guests that reflected our personal values, where guests could be part of the magical location adjacent to the Kalgan River on the outskirts of Albany in Western Australia. #airbnbRiverdale1898 #slowandsimpledays #slowliving #countrystyle #stayinthebush A place where with their family or friends could make some positive memories in an environment that inspires creativity with its connection to the land.

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of a simple life" John Burroughs

Time for quiet reflection. Our creativity blossoms when we give ourselves time to be mindfully present in the natural world.. Story telling throughout the cottage shows our connection to the land and those that have gone before on this piece of beautiful land. Wildflowers on the Luke Pen Walk are plentiful in spring.

Views over paddocks to the tranquil, silent river and a backdrop of marri/jarrah vegetation and big skies make this little perfectly imperfect cottage a delightful place stay. #perfectlyimperfect #rusticallyrefined The Luke Pen Walk follows the river upstream for a distance of 7kms.

I want to transport guests to place for the enjoyment of slow and simple days in the country. The fenced cottage garden is a delightful place to read, enjoy a cuppa and be a part of the changing seasonal landscape. Enjoy small moments of calm at Riverdale 1898. #riverdale1898

The cottage has a simple recycled vintage vibe. I have taken time to gather and curate elements that reflect the past and present history of Riverdale Farm. #riverdalefarmalbany A cottage with simple but humble modern comfort. I delight in finding beauty in simple, time worn, well-crafted items. A mix of its cultivated history and natural history.

Simple kitchen facilities suitable for preparing seasonal meals. Albany has a wonderful Farmer’s Market #albanyfarmersmarket in the centre of town on Saturday morning all year round with an amazing variety of locally grown produce for sale. A km or 2 down river and guests can purchase beautiful seasonal fruit from Nicklup Orchard from early Dec through to Late April. A rare treat in this day and age.

A space to cultivate creativity through time spent in nature embracing the season.

Dried botanical pieces created from our farm grown product are found through out the cottage.

The beautiful images in this post were captured by photographer Jemma Keech #JemmaKeech during a photoshoot at the cottage. No matter what the weather is, the front north facing sunroom makes you feel as though you are in the landscape with views down to the Kalgan River.

Farm grown blooms picked from the cutting garden at Riverdale Farm for a garden gathered spring arrangement. #gardengathered #nofloralfoam #riverdalefarmalbany #helenleighton #sustainablefloristry #farmerflorist #albanyflorist #floristalbany #floraldesignworkshops Beautiful Australian made ceramics by Robert Gordon Pottery #robertgordonpottery are found in the cottage. A mix of handcrafted and recycled furniture with botanical detailing is the basis of the design.

Order a bucket of fresh farm grown blooms from Helen to arrange during your stay at Riverdale 1898. Perfect for florists #florists wishing to nurture their creativity in a natural setting. Jim has handcrafted a workbench at the kitchen entry at the perfect height for arranging flowers.

Sarah's Hosting Masterclass inspired the confidence to put my brand out into the world! I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process…inspiring and continues to be...Thank you Sarah #thehostingmasterclass #sarahandrews

Jemma Keech Photography

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page