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

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Any­one in­ter­ested in sub­mit­ting an idea for house of the week can email jes­sica. howard@news.com.au

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.”

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