A walk through Emu Bay Holiday Homes’ history
First owners: Gary and Joylene Watters
Gary had sold his farm on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula and came over to Kangaroo Island as a lay preacher for the Uniting Church. Later the church could no longer support a second preacher and that’s when Gary and Joylene invested in a 5-acre bare block of land overlooking Emu Bay – with a vision of building some holiday accommodation units and creating a lifestyle for themselves. In 1993 they built the shed and water tanks and lived in a caravan while building Shalom and Jireh. Next came the main house, now called Amani (Swahili for Peace), followed by the two cottages and then the two cabins. Gary loved birds and planned a garden that would attract the island’s beautiful native birds. He enjoyed conducting penguin tours on Emu Bay Beach. Gary and Joylene often had groups over from churches in Adelaide. Sadly Joylene fell ill with cancer and eventually Gary sold the property.
(Insert interview with Heather MacKenzie and John Watters.)
Dianne and Graham Morris bought Emu Bay Holiday Homes in June 2000 when their children returned to Kangaroo Island to farm. Dianne believed it was time for her and Gary to leave the farming to the kids. Being a man of few words, Gary enjoyed interacting with guests and became quite comfortable talking to people. Gary and Dianne built the steps in front of Bayview and added the verandas to the two cabins. They did the majority of work themselves, helped by just one cleaner. Initially they planned on having Emu Bay Holiday Homes for 2 years, but ended up selling it after 4 years, in March 2004.
Ann and Theo Horbelt had just returned to Australia from Germany after living abroad for 20 years. Ann was visiting her mother and saw an advertisement for Emu Bay Holiday Homes in the window of the local real estate agent. Ann’s mother was ill on the island, her dad and sister Sue had passed away and Ann wanted to be closer to her mother. The estate agent brought Ann out to Emu Bay for just a look, but she instantly fell in love with the view, sense of peace and tranquillity. Theo had always said he could never live on ‘The Rock’, so Ann had some convincing to do! The rest is history. In March 2004 they bought EBHH. Ann enjoyed interacting with the guests and loved waking up to the spectacular view every morning. They lived in the main house, kept EBHH neat and tidy and in 2007 added an en-suite bathroom, walk-in robe and patio to Jireh. Each summer their daughter Roanna returned from her studies in New Zealand to help.
Reflecting on their 14 years at EBHH, they reminisce about the views, the beautiful red cliffs in the afternoon sun, the variety of birds and the echidnas walking over their toes. But the joy is not lost: Ann and Theo built a new home in Emu Bay, just 400 metres down the road!
A new era: Rene and Johannes Steyn
On 27 October 2017 Rene went to Emu Bay Holiday Homes to see Ann about an unrelated matter, fell in love with the view and discovered that the property had been on the market for a while. That same afternoon Rene and Johannes drove out to Emu Bay together to have another look. (Insert first photo taken.)
Lots of discussion ensued about whether they could run a holiday accommodation business parallel to their professional careers. Recruiting Christine to help manage the bookings, Rene and Johannes took a leap of faith and invested in Emu Bay Holiday Homes. On 1 March 2018 they took over EBHH, ably supported by Christine and Michelle, one of the cleaners who had committed to stay on for a while.
The property had been lovingly kept, but needed some renovations and upgrading. Rene and Johannes have since embarked on a gradual process of renovation and maintenance, and creating their own team.
Read our Blog on what has been done at Emu Bay Holiday Homes since March 2018.