Posted on | December 4, 2009 | Posted by Marian Simms Comments Off on Emerald Valley
Emerald Valley is a special home and guesthouse. We speak to owner and visionary Michael Robinson.
Tell us the story of Emerald Valley.
The lush hills of the Hinterland are truly the most beautiful areas of Byron Shire. Much focus has been put into the beach side living but I sought out the forests and the river. I wanted to have a very soft feminine property so that I could build a home to have a belated family. The beaches are all close by but I can return to the privacy and beauty of the hills.
I had become disillusioned with the ability of the people of the world to make any correct decisions for the good of the earth. I decided that after all my years of struggle it was pointless and that I would build a sustainable sanctuary. My vision was to build a truly beautiful, fragrant, sensuous, inspiring home that was sustainable and had abundant water and fresh fruit and vegetables. A home for me to bring a romantic partner in the future and start a family. A place that I could entertain friends and business associates and allow them to see how you can live in luxury but in harmony with the earth.
With your field of expertise in “green” Business, What were the must have criteria in the house and garden for you in the design?
It was essential that the house ran on 100% green energy and had solar hot water. I used beautiful recycled timbers wherever possible to avoid forest destruction. The swimming pool is oxygenated spring water so that when drained or overflows it does not pollute the environment. The majority of paints are non-toxic.
The brief for the gardens was fragrance, colour and abundance all year round. And they are designed to require little maintenance after they are established.
I know you have a great interest and passion in Green initiatives both professionally and personally.
Can you tell me a little about what you do and how this affects your design choices and how you run Emerald Valley Villa?
I am the founder of the Emerald Planet Trust. The Trust has focused for 10 years into creating companies that provide a vehicle for the commercialization of environmental technologies and services. These technologies and service companies are now helping to clean the earth and water as well as address the very serious issues of Climate Change both by way of reduction in greenhouse gas production and other dangerous particulates that pollute the air. More recently in the last 2 years Emerald Planet has become involved in biofuels and sustainable forestry in Asia as well as major Avoided Deforestation Initiatives in the forests of Indonesian Papua. The operation of the Trust is dedicated to the belief that all form requires a structure and that the creation of lasting beauty and abundance comes from the correct application of inspiration, structure, discipline and compassion.
All the buildings are located on areas that were worn out paddock; there are many green building codes in Byron Shire since it has a green council. However in all regards I exceeded the requirements. The fact that there is rainforest on the land is of particular interest because it can be protected and where needed I have commenced regeneration.
I had decided that I would use the materials of Bali as a predominant feature of the villa. So as I went to Bali on my trips I met with my young friend Tobias Garritt who had moved to Bali from Australia to marry a Balinese Princess who is from one of Indonesia’s most well respected families. As my trips progressed he asked me if I would create an environmental business with him in Indonesia. Initially I said that I would only help him since I wanted to semi retire but after several trips one thing led to another and I commenced the businesses that I am now involved in being to put large areas of rainforest into perpetual trust, provide multi-generational support and employment for the communities as well as conserve rare and endangered species. So I now live in Asia and the villa is rented so that others can enjoy this amazing private estate.
What does your ideal day staying in the house include?
Waking up to see the sun come up over the misty valley. Riding the Polaris down to the river and waterfall and having a swim in the powerful energy of that natural place. Breakfast in the Valley Rice Barn overlooking Emerald valley. Walking round the gardens. Lunching on the terrace. A spa bath watching the soft pink glow of the valley as the sun sets. Dinner in the living room with its high cathedral ceiling and then relaxing in the master bathroom prior to retiring to the super-king size bed!
The gardens are quite something; it is obvious there is a lot of love going on there.
I wanted the villa to truly connect to the gardens so that the inside connected to the outside. I wanted the outside to be fragrant, colourful, lush, soft and curving. We incorporated the use of terracing to provide interest. Designing theses gardens with Tim Hays was truly fabulous – we have so many special species that as the garden matures it will become a private botanical garden.
What is your favourite room in the house?
The master suite flowing through the walk-in robes to the marble master bathroom.