You don't have to be a monarch or a fairy tale character to live in a castle, as Brogo residents the Theodorakis family have proven.
Gerry and Irene Theodorakis purchased this grand residence, formerly known as Waterstone Castle, in 2015, before which it had been sorely neglected for 10 years.
The French chateau-inspired six-bedroom, three-bathroom stone building stands audaciously in an equally majestic location, with bushland surrounding it, the sweet sounds of a permanently running creek and views to Biamanga/Mumbulla Mountain.
According to Gerry and Irene, construction of the building commenced in 1990 and went on for about seven years, but the current owners continue to work on the enormous project.
Soaring cathedral ceilings and spacious living spaces on the main level offer a sense of both resplendence and homeliness, with the lower level feeling more subterranean, though not lacking in comfort or style.
"We saw a lot of potential when we came across this place, it's a big building and I have always lived in big houses," Gerry said.
A self-proclaimed calculated risk taker with an extensive background in the building industry, Gerry said his daughter had initially encouraged him to view the property.
"I knew straight away what needed to be done," he said.
Now in his 60s, at the age of 17 Gerry started out in interior wood carving and furniture manufacture, later moving into antique restoration and then marble and granite benchtops.
"It's a major task for one person, but I am not put off by it. I have a lot of passion, energy and ideas," Gerry said.
House Creek runs through the middle of the five-acre allotment and with no agriculture upstream, provides pristine water to the property.
"The guy that built the castle made a suspension bridge further down the creek where it gets cut off with flooding, so residents could come across, but the pylons washed away during a major flood several years ago," Gerry said.
Irene is an avid swimmer and a 25-metre long swimming hole, up to two metres deep in some places, is only a one-minute walk from the castle.
"This is a beautiful place for my grandkids to come. We really enjoy it here and are not isolated," Gerry said.
There are plans to install traditional concrete balustrading out the front of the castle, forming a 35-metre curved wall and an impressive Georgian-style columned portico, to distinguish a grand entrance leading to the enormous front door.
Irene is the brains behind the garden design and is shaping lovely ornate areas around the house in addition to the raised vegetable garden beds out the back.
Irene is also the primary interior designer, for which she has real flair and imagination.
The distinctive stonework of the castle was put together using a combination of local rock as well as some from East Gippsland.
Gerry likes to use reclaimed materials wherever possible and has sourced many stunning additions to both the structure of the residence and the décor contained within, including tiles embedded with fossils, French period-style lighting and solid handcrafted antique timber furniture, most of which is very ornate.
"I detest waste and always use as many recycled materials as I possibly can," he said.
Having kept the cost of the improvements to date impressively low, Gerry said the bulk of the expense has gone towards excavation work surrounding the castle, which was "totally overrun", making access, maintenance and parking an issue.
"I envisage that in the next 18 months most of the internal work will be done too," he said.
"I enjoy doing what I do. This suits me down to the ground."
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