Destinations Magazine

Sleeping with Pioneers

By Briarjensen @BriarJensen

I love it when people are passionate about what they do, and there are plenty of passionate people in the tourism industry. But there are some people whose personal commitment outshines others and Joyce Stepto is one of them.

Sleeping with pioneers

Joyce greets guests in period costume

For a start, she makes the effort to dress up in period costume to welcome guests to Price Morris Cottage, her historic B&B in St Albans, 20km from Wisemas Ferry, a two-hour drive from Sydney. Brandishing a tray with warm fruit pudding and tinkling glasses of apple juice, she greets guests on the front veranda, just as she did as a child.

Sleeping with pioneers

Price Morris Cottage dates back to 1837.

It seems a bit eccentric to be greeted by someone in a long skirt and lace bonnet these days (other than at a pioneer village) but she literally sets the scene for a stay in this 1837 slab, wattle and daub homestead, which has been lovingly restored. 

With a limited budget and having been diagnosed with cancer, Joyce, a sixth-generation Morris, put her heart and soul into the painstaking restoration of the heritage-listed home, built by emancipated farmer Price Morris. She not only ensured the finished cottage accurately reflects its heritage, right down to the lace doilies, but also created a historical record of colonial construction techniques for future generations.

Sleeping with pioneers

History window in cottage

History ‘windows’ and semi exposed ceilings showcase original materials and building methods, to the delight of history buffs and architecture students, and for those with a little time to spare, Joyce will give a personal tour of the homestead, weaving local history and family anecdotes into restoration details.

Joyce says being diagnosed with cancer added a degree of urgency to the restoration, but throwing herself into the project helped her deal with her diagnosis and assisted in her recovery, not only in the short-term, but in the years since, in remission.  She hopes this confession will inspire others in similar circumstances. 

It’s because of passionate people like Joyce that we have the opportunity to stay in unique heritage accommodation like Price Morris Cottage, so thank you Joyce!

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