House Proud: Jackie and Jack Newton
Imagine, if you will, a home that is just so damned welcoming from the moment you enter the front door, that you make excuses to stay longer because you just don’t want to leave.
The home of retired golfer, Jack Newton, and his wife, Jackie is just that... and now this stunning property has been listed on the market with Green St Property agent Peter Aloupis saying, "properties such as the Newton's are rare to the market, the offering is extraordinary".
Irish novelist, Cecelia Ahern sums up the Newton residence best with her philosophy that “Home is not a place…it’s a feeling.”
“We drove to the top of the driveway and I knew this was it. It had the white fencing, it was close to town and near the airport and I loved the fact it was weatherboard."
Coming from London I was brought up with big brick homes and I just love the charm and character of weatherboard. Plus the house that sits in the middle of Augusta is also weatherboard.”
A long winding driveway meanders alongside one of the horse paddocks with a dam built by the Newtons and takes you over a charming bridge, constructed from stones from Iron Bark Creek that runs along the perimeter of the property.
The white weatherboard home sits prettily amongst seven acres of horse paddocks, picture-perfect barn-style stables, a half-sized tennis court, and established gardens in Cardiff Heights.
Named ‘Augusta’ after the famed American golf course in Georgia that is home to the annual Master's Tournament where Jack was runner-up in 1980, the home wraps around what was once one of the largest residential pools ever constructed in the area.
It was love at first sight when Jackie first saw the home.
"We were looking for a smaller acreage because we breed trotters and gallopers so this was ideal. We’ve been breeding here for 36 years. The kids were always travelling due to Jack’s golf commitments and looking smart so we wanted them to play in mud and get dirty like normal kids.”
In the 37 years that the Newtons have owned the property, they have extended it twice to accommodate their family and lifestyle. Their two grown children, former golf pro-Kristie and former NRL second-rower Clint are blessed with memories of swimming, horse riding and hanging out with friends on the weekends at this magnificent property.
Whilst Kristie and Clint now have families of their own, ‘Augusta’ remains an idyllic home base for them when they’re back in Newcastle, where their young children can experience the simple pleasures that they did growing up.
Both extensions have been designed to create a U-shaped house that wraps around the swimming pool so that most rooms in the house have an outlook across the pool, to the paddocks and trees beyond.
I first meet Jackie in the dining room that she had added onto the home to accommodate extended family and friends. An original window has been used on the north-facing wall, allowing an abundance of natural light to flow through, with the adjacent windows overlooking the enormous swimming pool.
”We built this extension about eighteen years ago, adding a new front entrance, dining room and wine cellar. We always have family for Christmas so we needed a bigger space. I wanted a dedicated room for dinner parties, it was a dream I’d always had. When Clint played for the Newcastle Knights, we used to have the team here for dinner and parties. We often hosted Mad Mondays here because it was a secluded space for the boys to hang out. We also added a wine cellar which is half underground so remains cool all year round.”
The other extension is a dedicated games room and bar at the opposite end of the house which Jackie tells me that to this day, she’s still glad she talked Jack into!
“We decided to build a bar and billiard room to house Jack’s memorabilia that we had accumulated over the years, many by attending various charity events. Jack had always wanted to go marlin fishing, so after winning the Australian Open he flew some mates up to Cairns and was fortunate enough to land the one and only catch of the day. He had the head-mounted and it was so huge, we couldn’t hang it until we had the extension built.”
You could spend days in this room, and still discover something new to look at. Above all though, you get a sense of the parties and the entertaining that has taken place within these walls. Yes, this may sound cliché, but this home really is an entertainer’s paradise!
The original part of the house is its core, the heart and soul of the home. It has a quintessential English design aesthetic, staying true to Jackie’s heritage. The lounge room, whilst cosy in size, has a sense of comfortable grandeur with its soaring beamed, cathedral ceilings, bay window and stone-clad wood-burning fireplace.
The fireplace is amazing Jackie, do you know its history?
“The house used to be owned by a gentleman named Dr Wardle, who had six children. Together with their neighbour, they would all bring stones up in wheelbarrows from Iron Bark Creek and he used them to build the fireplace surround. Dr Wardle owned the home and all the land around it, which he eventually sold off. The original flooring throughout the house was cork and when we pulled it up, we were amazed to find the immaculate floorboards underneath. We decided to keep the cork flooring in the hallway leading to the bedrooms so the kids wouldn’t wake us when they came home late!”
The décor features many English nuances, with touches like the wall radiator in the hallway; an abundance of over-stuffed lounges and chairs – some of which have been in the family for generations; leaded windows; and lots of rugs. The pictures on the walls are an eclectic mix of art and artefacts collected from their travels around the world and of deeply personal pieces, including a portrait of Jack lounging in an armchair with a newspaper which sits unobtrusively in the lounge room.
Jackie, did you do any other renovation work, other than the extensions?
“Yes, we opened the living spaces up. We extended the family room, and put air conditioning in. We knocked out walls to create an open family living room and revealed the cathedral ceilings. We added the beams and built a loft for additional storage. We had new windows made to match the originals from a local joiner in Cardiff. We also replaced the original fireplace with a new wood burner. We were one of the first people to buy from Jet Master in Adamstown”.
The original dining room is now a study that Jack and Jackie share. It’s a monument to their history together as a family, with walls adorned with memorabilia and pictures of Kristie’s professional days as a golfer, Clint’s rugby league days, caricatures of Jack by cartoonist, Tony Rafferty, and a photo of Jack receiving his Order of Australia medal, an honor that Jackie herself has also been awarded with.
The western end of the house features the bedroom wing with five bedrooms. The master faces north and overlooks the pool. Portraits of Kristie and Clint hang either side of the French Doors and one of Jackie’s favourite pieces of art hangs over the bed. The ensuite boasts an added feature of a walk-in robe built for Jack. Kristie’s old bedroom is now used by her own children when they visit and still has her own artworks adorning the walls.
I notice there is also a strong American Indian tribal influence in the décor, with Jackie’s favourite piece made by Indians from Moab hanging above the fireplace in the family room. A rug from Moab sits on the floor in the wine cellar and other tribal influenced hangings and rugs are displayed throughout the home.
Visiting the Newton’s home has given me pause to think about what makes this house stand out as such a welcoming abode. The feeling you get in this home is indisputable. It’s a feeling of warmth and love. Jackie perhaps has the answer when I ask her about what her favourite thing in the house is…
“This house represents memories. If someone gives me something, I always find a spot for it. I love the dining room because it has so much history. My Grandmother’s glassware sits amongst the Waterford Crystal Jack won at The Australian Open and we bring it out to drink from at our dinner parties. I love the huge distressed timber dining table that we found in a shop in Belmont. It adapts to suit our needs. Earlier this morning it was covered in books for the grand children’s homeschooling!
"The lounge room was always the tidy room but now the grandkids use it as a playroom and they love it down there. A lot of our furniture came across from England. The dresser in the dining room was made by my brother. The bottom was an original old piece that he restored, and he constructed the buffet from church pews he bought from an old church at the bottom of our street. I still have my kids’ old high chair in the dining room. It was a gift from Kristie’s Godfather when we were living in South Carolina and it converts to a rocking horse”.
So there you have it. This house constantly evolves to meet the needs of whoever is fortunate enough to be within its walls. Belongings are prized and treasured and sentiment oozes from every corner. Combine all of this with the idyllic setting it sits within and the majesty of the local scenery, and this truly is a place to call home.
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