Good, Beautiful and Honest; the story behind Kalinya Estate

Kalinya is about building relationships

Kalinya is an Aboriginal word meaning GOOD, BEAUTIFUL, and HONEST and the meaning remains the driving force behind the ethos of the Estate.  

It was nearly 20 years ago, that Chris and Mandy Barnes fell in love with the heart and soul of the rural property at the gateway to the Southern Highlands.  

When they bought the property, it had wonderful historic bones, but needed a lot of love to restore the buildings and gardens to their original grandeur. Out came the drawing pads, carpentry and gardening tools, paint brushes and gumboots for some hard work. 

Chris and Mandy both love sport and music, so it was obvious that the Estate should have plenty to do, without the need to rely on technology for entertainment. “We love that there is plenty to do for anyone, no matter the age or ability… and that people are able to escape from the busy, technology-filled lives and spend good, quality time together just having fun.” 

Chris and his crazy visions combined with Mandy’s eye for design, led to the property getting its own music lounge, squash court, gym, tennis court, 17m heated pool and pool house, hot tub, sauna, ice bath, billiards table, foosball, air hockey, vintage arcade games, etc. Although, the couple do agree that Chris’s obsession with film and golf, meant a tiered theatre and a golf simulator were built with the best and latest technology available.  

Quite a few years ago, after requests from the public to open the Estate to guests, and after the restorations were completed, the couple decided that the property should be reopened for bookings once more; that it was wasted keeping the property away from the world. To transform Kalinya into the perfect space for large groups to gather and enjoy themselves seemed the most natural transition.  

The Estate already had a history of being used as a bed and breakfast and for weddings, so the way was paved to invite guests to experience staying at the estate. Unlike a hotel, the accommodation provides beautiful, boutique homes where everyone within a group can enjoy quality time together in a private and exclusive setting. Mandy is a Clinical Psychologist, so creating spaces that aimed to build relationships through unique experiences and entertainment was a conscious intention. 

The Estate is now used for exclusive, large group, multi-generational gatherings, corporate retreats, health retreats, family holidays; and significant celebrations, such as weddings and birthdays.    

The reopening of the Estate has not been without its challenges. Just after the Estate reopened for business, bushfires ravaged through the Wollondilly and Southern Highlands regions, followed by widespread floods. Despite the impact of natural disasters to the regional area, Chris and Mandy have used the Estate to help the community fight back; to rebuild and encourage tourism back to the region. Bookings at the Estate bring local jobs and opportunities to those who need it most and aid in establishing and maintaining other local businesses. 

The arrival of Covid and consequent loss of income caused by imposed lockdowns, forced the couple to pivot their business direction; as they endeavoured to continue to improve the offerings of the Estate for when they were able to reopen. Given the environmental damages of the fire and flood events, the couple used the lockdowns to passionately work to increase the biodiversity and sustainability of the property; installing a huge solar system, EV chargers and natural pond ecosystems. 

You may recognise the Estate from 3 years of watching the Retreat on Married at First Sight. After losing all their bookings due to Covid lockdowns, the couple made the most of the closures by accepting filming opportunities (as these had exemptions to film). Even though Mandy, being a Clinical Psychologist, was nervous about hosting reality TV, they agreed to the partnership with Endemolshine. Mandy figured it would be good for a laugh considering they were forced to be closed anyway, but given the huge following of the show, that it would ultimately help get the word out about the fabulous offerings in the beautiful, regional area for when people could travel again. As a result of the television partnership, Kalinya has become well known both in Australia, NZ, and many countries overseas, particularly in the UK. This has provided the much-needed increase in tourism that is so vital for struggling regional communities. 

Corporate Offerings
Chris and Mandy have spent their professional lives in the corporate world, and knew that the huge number of facilities and high-end group accommodation, would make Kalinya the perfect location for Corporate Retreats. The Estate offers the perfect blend of a rural, away-from-the-office destination, combined with the convenient location for delegates to access (45 minute from Sydney Airport; 1 hour from the Sydney CBD). 

Kalinya is about building relationships; so instead of simply hosting meetings and getting work done, the facilities and opportunities afforded to guests at the Estate, allows teams to grow in cohesiveness and strength going forward. 

The couple have worked to design and set up multiple meeting and events spaces; each vastly different in terms of architecture, feel and size. Keep it intimate for 20 or 30 in the cosy and luxurious Terrace room, Music Lounge or Gold Class Theatre, or address over 200 guests in the spectacular Carriage House (designed to open entirely onto the gardens to assist in hosting the most stylish of garden parties, training days and launches).  

We wanted to design the estate and spaces to offer something entirely different. We were sick of white conference rooms with fluro lights and a bowl of mints. We knew we could offer spaces that helped people to be productive, that were conducive to relationships, that were entirely fun and motivating. We wanted people to leave feeling restored and revitalised, ready to go back to their workplace with a new sense of passion and connectedness with their teams.”