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POLTERGEIST: Gin and ghosts fuel history fightback

GIN and ghosts are helping a former Queensland family fight to save one of Tasmania's historic heritage properties.

Anne and David Kernke, formerly of Ipswich, told spirited and spooky tales as they hosted more than 50 journalists, photographers, tech writers and Panasonic officials last week for the launch of the Lumix S Series cameras and lenses.

The family have been conserving the Shene Estate, just out of Hobart, for more than a decade.

"We saw after coming down here in 1996 that Tasmania had the best heritage buildings in the country. We wanted to be part of that," Anne told News Regional Media.

The property was the country residence of early colonialist Gamaliel Butler.  They say Shene's colourful past has direct links with King George III and former Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

The couple are no strangers to heritage restoration work, having been involved in four different home projects in Ipswich, one of Queensland's oldest provincial cities.

 Ipswich couple Anne and David Kernke, together with daughters Myfanwy and Ceridwen and beloved westie Gillie (Scottish for gamekeeper) are restoring the Shene Estate in Tasmania.
Ipswich couple Anne and David Kernke, together with daughters Myfanwy and Ceridwen and beloved westie Gillie (Scottish for gamekeeper) are restoring the Shene Estate in Tasmania. Mark Furler



To help fund their Tassie vision, they have turned to liquor, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to establish the award-winning Shene Estate Distillery.

David made his money in land valuation but you can see his heart is in restoring the old buildings, even if it means following the strictest of heritage regulations.

 David Kernke is passionate about heritage history and his gin and whisky.
David Kernke is passionate about heritage history and his gin and whisky. Mark Furler



Their daughters Myfanway and Ceridwen, together with beloved westie Gillie (Scottish for gamekeeper) are also heavily involved.

The family all enthuse about the brand.

Shene Estate is home to the award-winning Poltergeist gin and Mackey Whisky.
Shene Estate is home to the award-winning Poltergeist gin and Mackey Whisky. Mark Furler



"Poltergeist is a German word for a cheeky, rumbling ghost. We reckon you've got to be on the move to have heritage buildings,'' Anne jokes.

"The property here is littered with ritual marks to ward off evil spirits and to protect the livestock. "And yes, we've got a couple of spooky rooms in our house.

Polo is one of the many offerings for tourist at the Shene Estate in Tasmania.
Polo is one of the many offerings for tourist at the Shene Estate in Tasmania. Mark Furler



"So, Poltergeist is a very apt name for our gin.'' She says both she and her daughter have been felt strange presences.

"I've had an occasion in one of our bedrooms. "And our daughter Myf woke us one night in a quite a state of panic that she had an experience in her bedroom that was a bit spooky."

The buildings in the estate date back to 1822 onwards while the land grants go back 200 years.
"We see ourselves as conservers of this landscape,'' Anne write on the estate's web page.

Myf's passion for the property came through loud and clear as she told visitors of the fascinating history of the place before inviting them to sample some of the finest gin.



The Pontville estate is open on weekends for those wanting to wander through the 'living museum' while enjoying a tipple. It's also a wedding and events destination, and even has polo.

 

Anne Kernke at the historic roadside stall featured in the New York Times' travel section.
Anne Kernke at the historic roadside stall featured in the New York Times' travel section. Mark Furler



Apart from the historic buildings, one of the most quaint offerings is a roadside stall which was recently featured in New York Times' travel section.

The Shene Estate in Tasmania, which has links back to King George III, and is said to be 'haunted' by ghosts.
The Shene Estate in Tasmania, which has links back to King George III, and is said to be 'haunted' by ghosts. Mark Furler



Watching them talk of the process they go through to develop the gin - from the ingredient they use to the charring of the barrels, you can see they take the craft seriously.

The Shene Estate in Tasmania, which has links back to King George III, and is said to be 'haunted' by ghosts has been lovingly restored by former Ipswich couple Anne and David Kernke. The property is also home to their daughters Myfanwy and Ceridwen and beloved westie Gillie (Scottish for gamekeeper). It's also home to the award-winning Poltergeist gin and Mackey Whisky.
The Shene Estate in Tasmania, which has links back to King George III, and is said to be 'haunted' by ghosts has been lovingly restored by former Ipswich couple Anne and David Kernke. The property is also home to their daughters Myfanwy and Ceridwen and beloved westie Gillie (Scottish for gamekeeper). It's also home to the award-winning Poltergeist gin and Mackey Whisky. Mark Furler


They also know the importance of getting out their message on the 'bush telegraph' of social media, telling those at the Panasonic launch they would play a part in sharing images of history through their photography.

"We believe history must be shared and enjoyed in order to survive,'' Anne says.

For more info: www.shene.com.au