Lynette Litster and Stephen Donnelly: Birchview Tasmania
Lynette and Stephen found happiness in the landscapes of Tasmania and have created a space for others to relish in their own happiness
Alpacas, big skies under six acres and fresh southern Tasmanian air. Birchview is the product of a couple who began to grow homesick for Tasmania each time they returned to Sydney’s northern beaches.
Lynette Litster and Stephen Donnelly moved to Tasmania in August 2012 when both were in their mid-40s. With each passing holiday they had become increasingly fond of the island state but they needed employment prior to settling in Tasmania for good.
Stephen gained work at Huon Aquaculture, and Lynette surprised her Sydneysider friends by finding work in Tasmania just three weeks later. Since then, it’s their charming rural property, Birchview, at Allen’s Rivulet, just 20 minutes from Hobart’s CBD that has become their driving passion.
“The perception was that leaving our beachside life in Sydney would result in no employment opportunities further south and that any work we found would pay only half the income of equivalent roles interstate,” says Lynette. “We’ve happily found quite the opposite to be true. We landed on our feet virtually straight away. I’ve been working for the same company for nearly four years, just 10 minutes from home.”
Over the years, the couple have gradually turned their peaceful Birchview property into a sought-after destination for weddings, elopements and photoshoots.
“People kept telling us what a calm and beautiful environment Birchview is and as more people came to visit, we wanted to share it,” explains Lynette. “We thought we could make a business work based on the location. We were hopeful we had something with broad appeal, so we decided to give it a go and take it slowly.”
It turns out they were right, the property had all the elements of a desirable destination because bookings began to flow. The combination of rare birdlife, resident wallabies, four family alpacas and a flock of chooks has become increasingly hard to resist for a growing market of national and international guests. Groups are limited to 30 people at a time.
The pair work with celebrants, photographers and local suppliers, and their reputation is growing as a place that is hard to replicate.
“We recently had a couple who came from Newcastle to get married. They just wanted photos with the alpacas and chickens,” smiles Lynette. “If we can provide a niche and a memorable experience, we’ll continue to do so.
The alpacas love to know what’s going on and are generous with kisses. We had another wedding recently and the wife was from Thailand. Their guests couldn’t believe that our animals are so friendly and accessible. They became the star attraction!”
When Stephen and Lynette are not busy working, they enjoy getting outdoors. Lynette is an avid trail runner and particularly loves the jaunt over Allum Cliffs, just 10 minutes from home, while Stephen is a keen bodysurfer.
“Moving to Tasmania has been the best thing we’ve ever done – both economically and personally,” says Lynette. “It’s easy to get around and the calm way of life here suits us well. We lived in Ireland for a number of years and the landscape reminds me of there. We are settled and happy here.”
“I love the fact you can still get everything you need, but everyone seems more relaxed. Even a trip to the supermarket is enjoyable and friendly. We’ve been able to let go a little and we’re more open as people since moving here. We live in a place that is completely rural, but only 22km from Hobart,” she adds.
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania, have a look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.