20 May 2024

Robert Abel's wildlife-inspired vision comes roaring to life in Mogo

| Marion Williams
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Robert and Kate Plenty (centre) with their two children, son-in-law and five grandchildren. Photo: Jaguar Stay.

Robert and Kate Abel (centre) with their two children, son-in-law and five grandchildren. Photo: Jaguar Stay.

Imagine staying in a luxurious private villa sipping locally distilled gin or whisky as you watch the sun set over the surrounding hills. You are totally immersed in nature. Only the distant roar of lions disturb the serenity.

This is Jaguar Stay, six boutique villas adjacent to Mogo Wildlife Park. It is the vision of Batemans Bay former businessman Robert Abel. Over four years, his two children and son-in-law have brought it to life.

Robert and his wife Kate purchased the 170-hectare cattle farm in 2009. His daughter Kellie says that he “consumes design” and had the design in his head.

“I think he always had this in the back of his mind. He wanted to develop the property because of its zoning and to leverage being so close to the zoo,” Kellie says.

Robert had another motive. His son Dean and son-in-law Ben are carpenters. He made it clear he needed a builder for the project. That saw Kellie move from Canberra to Broulee, minutes from the property. With Dean living on the farm too, Robert had his children and five grandchildren close by.

Building started in 2018. The first three villas were complete by 2021 and the remaining three in 2022.

Each African tribal-themed villa has a plunge pool. The villas were architecturally designed based on Robert Abel’s vision. Photo: House of Harken.

Each stunning African tribal-themed villa has a full kitchen, decadent bathroom and a laundry. A private plunge pool completes the picture, plus guests may book massages.

To make things easier, guests may choose from grazing boxes, seafood boxes and dessert boxes or order in frozen meals from Narooma’s Mr Bold Catering. Alternatively, quality restaurants in Tomakin, Batemans Bay and Moruya are a few minutes’ drive away.

Kellie said many of their guests come from Sydney and are younger than she had expected.

“They are babymooners getting away before their first baby or couples indulging themselves for an anniversary or special celebration,” she says.

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Coming from the city, most guests are keen to explore the property. That is readily done as pushbikes come with each villa. There are also kayaks to make the most of the property’s nearly 3 km river frontage.

“They want to experience exploring the farm and animals,” Kellie says. The cattle share the property with an abundance of wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies.

In his time, Robert has run a panel beating business, numerous car yards, built a hotel and a night club in Batemans Bay and renovated Kianinny Bush Cottages in Tathra.

“He always has something on the go,” Kellie says.

The family hopes to open Foxdog Distillery by the end of the year. It will create up to 30 jobs. Photo: Jaguar Stay.

Right now, he has Dean and Ben building a marquee for a wedding venue that takes in sweeping views of Wandera Mountain and Mogo State Forest. They are also putting the finishing touches on the Foxdog Distillery that they hope to open by the end of the year. The distillery will offer casual dining to locals and tourists and will be another eating option for guests at Jaguar Stay.

The distillery is located across the road from the entry to one of Mogo’s new bike trails so they hope to capture some business from that. Bike storage and washing facilities are planned, as are charging stations for electric vehicles and bikes.

While Ben and Dean are occupied building, Kellie juggles being a mother of three and running the business side of Jaguar Stay. Shortly she will start establishing the distillery and café businesses.

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“The locals and community are really excited about it, so we are keen to open,” Kellie says.

She is working with a consultant to design the menu as well as recruit up to 30 staff for the café, kitchen, distillery and bar. It will be busy with the distillery open seven days and perhaps two nights a week.

It is a flexible lifestyle though, allowing Kellie, Dean and Ben to spend more time with their children, whose ages range from six to 15. The children have motor bikes, buggies and have built a motorbike trail and a cubby house. The families have a spot near the river where they camp together.

What more could anybody want? Robert has plenty of ideas.

“They are trying to stop me doing anything more.”

Original Article published by Marion Williams on About Regional.

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