Things of stone & wood
Most of the materials for Graham and Alison Dixon’s country- style home on a Middleton property came from their own backyard, writes Jarrad Bevan
CAN you dig a hole? This is the question Graham Dixon asks when people wonder how he built his own home from the ground up.
Graham is not a builder, carpenter, sparkie or plumber. But he can follow detailed instructions, one after the other.
With the help of a talented draftsman he worked out a plan for his and wife Alison’s country- style house on a stunning 17ha Middleton property, south of Hobart.
The draftsman broke down the building process into 14 single pages of instructions and aside from the electrical and plumbing work that had to be completed by a professional, Graham tackled the project alone. “It took me two years, two months and two days working six days a week,” he said of the gigantic undertaking.
“Our home Stonehaven features timber and stone sourced from our property, including timber bench tops in the kitchen and ensuite, and a floor- toceiling stone feature wall in the master bedroom.
“We brought in a Lucas Mill, a portable timber sawmill, and there is a small quarry at the back of the property from which we sourced much of the stone.”
The main living area and master bedroom open out on to a massive six- square timber deck that provides the Dixons with jaw- dropping views over Bruny Island and up the D’Entrecasteaux Channel towards Hobart’s Eastern Shore.
The bush in their “backyard” includes a huge, Triassic period, stone escarpment
that has sandstone caves dotted through it, some of them large enough for a person to stand in.
Graham says when building a house by yourself, there is no such thing as “finished”.
“At the start I thought we would not move in until it was complete. But after two years of living in our ‘ shed’, which is actually a 25- square American- style barn, let’s just say we were very keen to get out of the shed. We moved here in 2003 and there are little jobs I still haven’t finished, and probably never will.”
When the Dixons first discovered their property they were holidaying from interstate, exploring the Apple Isle.
Alison said the property was initially part of a large 40ha orchard.
“Our block was partially cleared, but that was about it,” she said.
“There was no access into the property from the road and we didn’t have power. Needless to say, we had numerous challenges ahead of us.”
Stonehaven is worlds away from the Dixons’ former life in Melbourne.
They lived in a small cottage with three kids. Space was always an issue. In no small part, this inspired them to think bigger in Middleton.
“We wanted something big compared to what we had there,” Graham said.
“We wanted to have the space to do things like put a spa bath in our bedroom.
“These days I think of Melbourne as a nice place to visit, I couldn’t live there again.
“Waking up here to these views, the incredible array of animals and birdlife, including Tasmanian devils and nesting wedge- tailed eagles, there really is no comparison.”