Swallows Welcome. We found it down a rutted track, surrounded by tall indigenous Australian trees.
It’s the chapel you notice first, a small mudbrick and timber building with a sign above the entrance that says: “Chapel of the Flowers.” There’s a large bell outside too, and you’re encouraged to ring it, but we don’t need to because Tim finds us first and begins to tell us about the his boutique wine farm, his wife’s art and how the chapel was built.
He built the chapel by hand in homage to his wife’s art and inside around the thick earth walls are her paintings of wild flowers, 100 of them, many of which have illustrated guide books of this region.
Below us are old Marri floor boards, veined and feathered, and there’s a long trestle table that stretches almost the whole length of the chapel – crafted from a Marri tree on the property which Tim explains, blew down during a “cock-eyed Bob” of a storm.
All in all it’s a labour of love. In fact, the chapel is dedicated to “Peace and Love” and the beauty of nature.
We find Pat Negus in her artist’s studio that looks out over a cottage garden where frogs and birds and bees abound. Merchandise is stacked in haphazard array on tables – the sales part of her life, a life which is more focussed on creativity and endeavour than money. This is a lifestyle business, the sort that looks really appealing compared to the rat race.
“I can’t believe how much there still is to do,” she says. “I have 5 books in the pipeline, 2 this year, and I’m not getting any younger.” Her paintings of flowers, birds, fishes, shells and fungi are detailed but she’s prolific, and as she tells us about her books and calendars and various projects you realise that when she says she has ‘no time for housework,’ she really means it.
Just before my hubby gets stung by a wasp (double ouch) as he’s taking photos of flowers in the garden, we buy a beautifully illustrated birthday calendar as a gift, which Pat signs on the recipient’s birthday.
Swallows Welcome is about 8 kilometres south of Margaret River. Have you been there?