My Favourite Place: Rob Bryant’s restored shed a real haven

By Myles Peterson

Through a wood-framed corner window the stump of an old gum is visible jutting from rich flood-plain soil, a reminder of the fallen trunk that partially destroyed the building.

Rob Bryant and the trunk have history.

‘‘The fact that I wasn’t here when the tree came down on it...’’ Mr Bryant trails off.

The old converted dairy shed holds many special family memories.

Before its near-demolition several years ago by the errant trunk, the Bryants’ son was attempting a musical conquest.

‘‘He started his musical career here. There’s a weird sign out there,’’ Mr Bryant says pointing to a chunk of concrete splashed with red and black paint.

‘‘Mad Empire. Mad Empire was going to take over the world.’’

Mad Empire never took over the world, but a career at Mushroom Records beckoned and the pride in Mr Bryant’s voice is evident as he rattles off his son’s achievements.

The tree falling, an episode Mr Bryant describes as a spiritual awakening, came during a more recent and dark time.

Following a business disagreement and 900km trek across Spain, Mr Bryant found himself again drinking heavily, an addiction he readily admits to battling.

‘‘When I left Melbourne and left the Money3 business I really needed to slow down,’’ Mr Bryant said.

‘‘I was having trouble trying to find what would be called a spiritual awakening if you like, in meditation.

‘‘I already knew how to meditate. I just hadn’t done it in a while. I’d also started drinking again.’’

The Bryants bought the picturesque 50-acre property nestled against the banks of Broken River to return to their country roots.

Mr Bryant, the son of a War WarII veteran grew up on a 120-acre dairy farm at Strathmerton. His partner Trish Bryant’s family farmed sheep and wheat nearby.

The pair took over the dairy farm and struggled on through good times and bad, eventually walking away to try their hand at business where they met with more trials, but also success.

In 2015, a boardroom battle saw Mr Bryant ousted from the Money3 business he helped create.

It was a low point, he says, one when he returned to drinking.

When the tree fell, Mr Bryant knew what to do.

The Bryants painstakingly restored the old shed, repairing and blending the original corrugated iron frame with wooden window frames, folding doors inlaid with stained glass, carpeting and an iron pot-belly stove.

The walls that once concealed the band practice and other associated shenanigans of teenagers now look out on picturesque river banks lined with old gums.

Wildlife; wallabies, kangaroos and a dozen breed of birds, cavort on the other side of the glass.

In this space, Mr Bryant says he found peace again and began to put his knowledge of meditation into practice.

‘‘My favourite place reminds me of the past, enshrines the power and mystery of nature while allowing me freedom to be present,’’ he said.

Not long after conquering his own addiction assisted by meditation within the restored shed, Mr Bryant, with the help of his wife and some friends embarked on a new mission, the establishment of a local respite centre for others battling addiction.

Today, Mr Bryant is dedicated to his role as company secretary for alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility, The Cottage, an institution that in part owes its inception to a falling tree.