The Dulcot property that speaks volumes of its owners
Eight kilometres along the road to Richmond, the community of Dulcot is a hidden gem of the Coal Valley. Forty South publishers Lucinda Sharp and Chris Champion’s home is here, tucked away upon the hillside overlooking Pitt Water and Midway Point, with a marvellous view down the barrel of the Coal Valley.
I’m greeted by greyhounds Ruby and Larry and kelpie-cross Alice. “I hope you’re a dog person,” Lucinda says. After a few pats, they leave us to chat in the sun streaming through generous north-facing windows.
“It was all cream and salmon pink when we bought it,” laughs Lucinda, as we move through a large open-plan lounge to the deck. “Which was not us at all.”
But, of course, you don’t buy a house for the paint colour. A rich red now evokes their shared passion for art and traditional furniture they’ve collected on adventures through Asia. A Kate Piekutowski artwork with a splash of red looks made for the wall.
The pair bought the two-storey brick home in 2012. “I first came to Tasmania on a holiday with Lucinda six years ago … and by the end of our holiday I was planning how to retire here,” Chris says. “That’s easier said than done when you’re a grumpy old editor.”
Running a publishing business is hardly retirement, but it has provided them with the balanced work life they longed for – even as their book-publishing business expands.
Lucinda lived in Hobart as a child. “My dad was posted here with the army. We lived in Beaumaris House at Battery Point,” she says. “I remember we arrived on the Empress of Australia shortly after the 1967 bushfires. As we sailed up the Derwent we saw all the bush was burnt … I’ll never forget it.”
The family’s time here was a happy one, and a map of Tasmania made from the state’s timbers is a keepsake of those years. “The map of Tassie was my father’s,” Lucinda says. “It was a gift from his soldiers. Chris and I got it when Dad came to live with us before he passed away.”
Adds Chris: “He actually came out of the retirement home he’d been in for 20 years to live with us.” They gave him the best room in the house – adding a sunroom and ensuite, which they’ve now taken over as their own.
Before publishing, Lucinda was a lead dancer with the Australian Ballet and, in 1999, became the first full-time psychologist with the Australian Ballet School – the first position of its kind anywhere in the world.
“These kids have a lot to deal with,” she says. “Anxiety and depression, perfectionism, frustration, injury, disappointment, eating disorders. It’s tough at the elite level. I really wanted to ensure young people entering professional dance are prepared for it.”
The couple’s love of Asian furniture speaks to their various trips through Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, Macau, Indonesia, The Philippines and, for Chris, years spent working in newspapers and banking in Hong Kong. Somewhere along the way, Lucinda became a collector of elephant sculptures.
“I don’t want to call them ornaments – gosh, I used to be so derisive of my mother collecting bells – but I guess that’s what they are,” she says. “I just love their shape; they’re such amazing creatures and many of them represent places I’ve visited.”
Each miniature is different but the one that really stands out is made of jade. “This is from my first trip to China with the Australian Ballet in 1980,” Lucinda says.
An heirloom sideboard is so precious it even has a name: Esmerelda. “She was my great-aunt’s,” Lucinda says. “My parents inherited her – painted black – but she is in fact made of cedar and she’s very fragile, too.
“People might think she’s ugly but I grew up with her and I love her.”
Which is precisely how you should feel about furniture: you can pick it, so you might as well pick what you love.