The Alchemy of SWC: The Light

Australian light is like no other. It shapes the land and the atmosphere of our days. It knocks sharply on our windows and doors, heralding another rotation of the earth. It’s revealing and potent and forever changing.

There’s the hard blaze of a summer’s high noon, with deeply etched shadows and eye-squinting reflections. The cool lavender haze of twilight over the mountains, the glow of sunbaking sandstone, and the staccato sparkle of light on softly lapping waves offer relief and happiness. On the other hand, an eerie jade tint warns of thunderstorms, and the ominous hot darkness of a firestorm strikes fear in humans and animals alike.

The light hits you deep in the chest and hints at something bigger than us all. As celebrated author Nikki Gemmell wrote recently in her column for The Australian:

“It is no wonder that many religions claim light as something divine. It is legend and myth, life-giving, wonder giving, power and truth and joy. Living with light gives us a sense of the divine whether we believe in a god or not. It deserves to be noted. And we are blessed, in this country, to have so much of it.”

The early Australian Impressionist’s obsession with the magic of Australian light sparked the inspiration for Southern Wild Co, and it continues to inspire us. From the gift of a glorious sunrise to the way we illuminate the Shedquarters, the light dances fantastically through our hours and marinates every moment.


A misty, golden Australian landscape at sunrise at Southern Wild Co


Sunrises deliver a beautiful golden light, a glow that says everything is going to be okay. It’s like being wrapped up in a bear hug from a loved one. It’s as simple and as powerful as that.

At day’s first blush, we head out to the top of the eastern hill where young eucalypts grow, and all signs of modern life are hidden from view. The sun emerges from a gap in the near horizon. The ridges and slopes are reduced to soft, tonal layers that deepen in colour and clarity as the dayspring advances.

From the milky pink reflected in wispy clouds to the tiger-eye warmth that stretches beyond and ignites the grasses and treetops, the morning light never disappoints.


Details of velvet soft furnishings and books in a vintage interior


Light plays over the patchwork of surfaces and textures in the Shedquarters and brings them into focus. Creeping through the doors and windows, daylight highlights the dips and nicks of the timeworn floorboards and the contrast of new and old tin. Fingers of light fall gently across velvet and silk cushions and curtains, emphasising jewel tones and plump comfortableness. Collections of apothecary jars sparkle in the sidelight.

Like a cat that pads through the house hunting for pools of sunlight, we reposition our reading and tea drinking spots according to where the sun is hitting. We wholeheartedly recommend doing as the cats do and orienting your day toward the light. A great mood enhancer, natural light decreases levels of depression, improves cognitive performance and stabilises circadian rhythms. Take the time to observe how the light flows through your spaces and set up your working-from-home station in a location bathed in natural light, or drag a comfy armchair into a sunny corner to read or nap.


Cane lamp shades and candles in a vintage interior

Southern Wild Co scented candles on an antique bookcase with vintage print


The Shedquarter’s interior is cocooning, inviting and intriguing, and we owe it all to the lighting (ok, and the amazing side-of-the-road finds!). We layer lamps, pendant lights and candles to create depth and a welcoming ambience, forgoing harsh, glaring overhead lights. We prefer warm light globes and love to position the light sources at different levels to create pockets of interest and add shape to the room.

A cluster of woven pendant shades from Koskela hang low over a book-strewn coffee table and is a beacon of warmth and texture in the centre of the open space. An evergrowing collection of vintage brass candlestick holders gather on the dining table, matched with softly scented beeswax tapers. Op shop floor lamps, wonky and fringed, stand tall in corners, while vintage table lamps shine on side tables and work desks. Southern Wild Co candles, glowing in their coloured glass vessels, add to the softness and romance of the illuminated space.


Details of light on fabric and garden insectsFestoon lighting in a pretty garden

The sunset show is best viewed from the front deck of the Shedquarters and preferably with a drink in hand. Be sure to stick around for the encore – the dusking light puts on a captivating performance.

The glimmers of low sun catch on insect wings, backlighting them as they drift above the vegie beds. We turn on the fairy lights that festoon the trees, and the perimeter of the property disappears as the last of the day slips away. The silvery, ethereal light shifts to a bruised, smoky blue, and eventually, the deepest black contained by a perforated, inky sky. The stars shine brightly in our part of the world.

And then, the quiet dawn comes around again, cloaked in soft mist and the promise of another beautiful day. ◼️


An image of a country gate in the morning mist in the Australian countryside



Jessica Bellef


Sue Stubbs

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