Umbi Gumbi is a 110-acre property in a stunning beachside location nestled in the spotted gum forest. It is bordered by Cuttagee beach along the eastern side of the property and Cuttagee Lake to the north and west.


Since 1978, Umbi Gumbi has been owned and operated by the Umbi Gumbi cooperative. In 1978 it was classified Residential Conservation permitting four dwellings to be built. The property was gazetted as a Wildlife Refuge in 1978 with a mandate to preserve this piece of coastal forest comprising spotted gums, coastal mahogany, banksia, stands of melaleuca, burrawangs and cabbage palms, and wildlife such as wallaby, possums, kangaroo, and native birdlife.


The original Ridge House was built in the 1960s by Mary and Frank Brett (related to the à Beckett / Boyd family) and purchased by John and Wendy Blay in 1970. Wendy Blay-Tucker is still an Umbi Gumbi cooperative shareholder, together with her children. The remaining three houses on the property (including the Beach House) are testament to the principles of 1970’s self-sufficiency, hand built with mud brick, stained glass, local timbers and recycled materials. They have been featured in Earth Garden and Grass Roots magazines. All the houses were located and built out of sight of each other and designed to blend into the landscape. The houses continue to be occupied by members of the cooperative, including some descendants of the original members.

The Ridge House was a second home to many artists, writers and poets in the 1970s. John Blay, who together with Wendy Blay-Tucker founded the cooperative, wrote his first novel, Part of the Scenery while camped out at the Umbi Gumbi dam. Salman Rushdie visited during the time he was in hiding from writing The Satanic Verses. Richard Neville and Martin Sharp - writers, artists and social commentators - stayed regularly. During his final years, Brett Whiteley spent time at Umbi Gumbi.

In poems dedicated to Wendy Blay-Tucker, Michael Dransfield - a frequent visitor and often a long-term guest at the Ridge House - called Umbi Gumbi ‘the idea forest’ while Tim Thorne’s 'Umbi Gumbi' noted that 'in this house full of music and words, / love is like big windows’. Dorothy Hewett always felt a special connection to the place, using the physical landscape and characters in her poetry and in her last novel The Neap Tide. The poet Robert Adamson lived at the Ridge House for six months and John Tranter also visited.

The Beach House, home to the residency program, was built by Candy and Ron Craine who were both professional potters in the 1960s and 1970s. Ron was a master builder with rammed earth and mud brick. He learnt and perfected these skills as part of the team of artist and students who restored and extended the artist colony Montsalvat in the 1950s working with the sculptor and jeweller Marcham Skipper - who became a lifelong friend - and other artists. The Craines were close to many artists of the 1950s and 1960s including Charles Blackman.


The forest, the sea, the mix of company and isolation have also been an inspiration for musicians. The Strides recorded songs for an album at the Ridge House there and they named one of their songs Umbi Gumbi. Sydney groups Iron Gate Sound, Horrorshow and Rapaport have written and recorded material at the Beach House.

Since the Artist in Residence program was established by Frédéric Jeanjean and Jessie Connell at the Beach House, they have hosted a number of emerging and established artists including (in order of appearance): Omar Musa, Koji Makino, Kurt Sorensen, Dan Kyle, Annalisa Ferraris, Fiona Lowry, RapaportAaron Fell-Fracasso, Matt Bromhead, Sophia Hewson, Mignon Steele, April Phillips, Marisa Purcell, Max Lyandvert, Camie Lyons, Horrorshow, Julian Meagher, Kirli Saunders, Sally Anderson, Guy Maestri, Bruce Pascoe, Gina Kalabishis, John Bokor, Luke Sciberras, Belle Bassin, Joelistics, Ev Lorden and Lola Paulova.

John Bokor's residency at the Beach House was recently featured in Art Almanac magazine: 


The Beach House at Umbi Gumbi is located two minutes’ walk to Cuttagee beach. Cuttagee Lake wraps around Umbi Gumbi and is an ideal swimming spot for kids.


There are two dwellings at the Beach House.

The main house is a large, two-level mud brick house with three large open plan rooms. Upstairs is the main bedroom with a queen size bed. The room has views of the spotted gum forest. Underneath are two large open plan rooms with a double bed and a set of bunk beds. There is one large, nicely presented bathroom in the main house. The kitchen is fully equipped. A Weber BBQ is available.  


The potter’s studio is adjacent to the house and has two rooms: a bedroom with a queen bed and ensuite; and a working studio. The studio includes two large Mabef easels. We ask guests to bring their own art supplies.


The house has WiFi internet. As this is a bush property, internet is slow (but reliable).


The house is not connected to town water and is solely reliant on rainwater. We ask guests to use water sparingly.


We ask guests to bring their own linen, towels and tea towels.