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.

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