It’s not every day you get a phone call to say you’ve inherited an island. Needless to say, when this happened for Melbourne couple Will and Kate (not the Will and Kate, obviously), the news was “a shock, to say the least” says Kate. “Completely unexpected!”
While the fortuitous outcome may sound like the stuff of dreams, or a lottery win, the real story is one of family ties. Satellite Island – a tiny patch of Tasmanian wilderness to the coast of Bruny Island – was once owned by Will’s uncle, Ian Alstergren, who had purchased the island in the 1960s as a retreat, but went on to operate a successful salmon farming business. When the couple, and their three children, inherited the island in 2009 “there were salmon in the water, the farm was running and overnight we were tending to harvests,” Kate recalls with a rueful smile. “It was a crazy time.”
Ringed by sheer sandstone cli s and gnarled bluegum and sheoak, Satellite Island is still a wild place but today has a less frenetic pace. The simple three-bedroom shack built by Ian in the 1980s has found new life as a family retreat - now referred to as the Summer House (a Scandinavian name for holiday home by the sea) - where soft canvas couches, coir rugs and Finnish reindeer hides add warmth to the weathered timber and sandstone framework.
“It was really important that we honour Ian, and the family’s heritage. Hence why the Norwegian flag, as well as the Australian one by the jetty,” Kate explains. “There’s something lovely about the fact that Ian built this house; we feel so grateful to him for entrusting us with something so dear to him.” A typically Nordic palette of dove grey, cream and ivory also features in the interiors. “But those colours are also a reflection of what’s outside. You can see those smokey blues in the mountains, and the creams in the cliffs. It’s Scandinavian beach hut meets raw Tasmanian wilderness.”
"It’s Scandinavian beach hut meets raw Tasmanian wilderness”Kate Alstergren
This recipe for relaxation explains why Satellite Island has been receiving global attention since the family began gently promoting it as a holiday destination last year – most notably from US magazine Vanity Fair, which declared it one of the world’s 15 loveliest private-island getaways.
Yet it’s not the Instagram-worthy interiors that make this retreat so extraordinary. The island’s 30 unruly hectares o er back-to-basic delights, where family holidays were spent outside and technology free.
There are coves to be explored, beach res to be lit, fossils to be uncovered and picnics to be had, and acres of densely wooded hinterland, which provide the perfect spot for playing hide- and-seek with the island’s 60 head of deer. Bruny Island and its gastronomic delights are a 10-minute speedboat dash away, and for guests, there is also a 24-hour, on-call manager to cater to every whim.
And of course, there’s the Boat House, a small but stunning hideout that sits on a simple timber jetty atop the glittering water 54 steep steps down from the Summer House. Once home to assorted boating machinery, the Boat House now houses two bedrooms, each decked out in the island’s signature mix of luxe Belgian linen and textured wood, alongside an outdoor deck and dining suite crying out for a long, lazy lunch.
“Converting the boathouse was the best thing we ever did,” Kate agrees. “Sleeping down on the water’s edge, and waking up to the sound of the waves...” she pauses for a moment, lost in an attempt to articulate. “Being here is like taking an old-fashioned seaside holiday, where you do the simple things,” she nally says. “The island casts a spell on you.”