Behind No. 58, a fabulous coffee hub come cellar door on Waterport Road, Port Elliot there is the magnificently restored Waverley homestead, celebrating its 160th year.
Hidden by a boutique one-acre vineyard and in the shadow of a giant Morton Bay Fig Tree, it has thankfully regained its character and splendour.
However, the real treasure is the man who was prepared to tap into our local skills force for this restoration and share his wonderful vision with the community in the name of art, tourism and heritage.
Meet Campbell Haigh, husband of Anna, father of Owen, 13, who makes a fortune selling eggs thanks to his 12 chooks and is guardian of Molly and Maggie, the adorable Border Collies who drive you mad with their demands to play fetch with the most driveled tennis ball since John McEnroe was a fourth-round loser in his last Grand Slam 23 years ago.
In a silly sort of way these adorable canine chums sum up what this No.58 place is all about; they ooze with charm, and before long so many people become involved. Through Campbell and Anna, they brought in 20 or so local stonemasons, carpenters, painters and so on to work on the restoration of the five sandstone dwellings – mostly built in 1856 – that have a total of eight rooms and can host as many as 22 tourists at any one time.
There are also those in the wine industry who help with the vineyards and the making of the Haigh’s Thunderbird label featuring superb drops of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, plus the casuals in the coffee shop/cellar door.
Also, with enormous pride, ever since Campbell opened the doors to No. 58 four years ago he has invited award-winning local artists like Tom O’Callaghan and Lisa Ingerson and other brilliant artisans to show their finest works.
And because of this open, community feel, a pool of warm friends return as frequent as Molly and Maggie when they play fetch.
Campbell doesn’t say much of his achievements; there is humility, but you feel a profound sense of pride knowing he offers people encouragement to visit this area. The reasoning fits with his role on the Fleurieu Peninsula Tourism Board.
“I feel good about trying to provide an atmosphere that’s home away from home for a lot people, as if they are coming into their own living room,” Campbell said. “We have made it relaxing as possible. We are fortunate that we have attracted a very local clientele as wells as tourists at large which is excellent for the region.
“The offering here is so wide and varied, and it is hard sometimes to encapsulate everything into one. How do you market and sell that whole concept to tourists? I think that’s why operators who get directly involved with the SA Tourism Commission and the tourism offices are also engaging with local people.
“I am very passionate about living here… it is just an amazing region. There is so much here from the food to the wine even to the people.
“There are so many artisans down here making fabulous work from ceramics to iron works, to paintings and installations… all the things you see along the roads, from the surfboards to the sandstone and iron ornaments that you have in Middleton. It’s a a big melting pot of people, and I think that makes this whole region unique.”
Waverley Estate itself has become a tourist attraction. Campbell and Anna took it over in 2004, and spent more than $200,000 on the renovations starting just over two years ago.
They have retained the natural heritage and charm; nothing has been overdone. Classic old doors and mirrors and the original light fittings have been restored. There are new ceilings and roofs, and the stone tiles inside and outside are magnificent.
Yet, for all of the class, indeed tasteful attention to detail, Campbell, the son of a lawyer, has no building design background.
His journey is long, from working in hospitality in between uni studies to the corporate world, commercial management with SeaLink, opening hotels for the Medina Group around Australia, and marketing with National Mutual.
These days it’s the cellar door and the vineyard that consumes his almost every day. The family moved here permanently in 2007, and No. 58 was built almost five years ago. After selling off their grapes in bulk to an Adelaide Hills winemaker, they started to make their own wine under the Thunderbird label.
And it is this project where you see Campbell in a different light. Normally he’s the immaculately-dressed consummate host, but come the other days he’s toiling in the vineyard, from slashing the grass between the isles to fixing the water links – a horrible job often caused by snakes biting into the PVC pipes.
But Campbell loves every moment of getting his hands rough and dirty doing this bits ’n pieces vineyard work, even when the starlings swoop literally in their thousands and peck the precious grapes.
“The grapes seem to grow well in this climate… we’re lucky because we get the sea breezes and not necessarily the frosts, and you don’t get the heat that sticks around other regions,” Campbell said. “If it is 45 we always usually get that sea breeze at night.
“The climate is good for the Shiraz, which is our premium wine. It has that full-bodied flavour, deep and fruity.”
The No.58 Campbell we see is always engaging with the clientele. “I love chatting to the older people and finding out about their lives and hopefully making a difference to their day and not just what I call processing people,” he said.
“It has a family feel. We love kids wearing the dogs out.” Maybe that last bit was Campbell the comedian. No one has ever tired-out Molly and Maggie, nor Owen’s real free-range chooks, all of whom seem to love the lifestyle more than anyone.