There’s something about Bruny
‘O NCE you fall in love with this island, you’re a goner.”
Those words could be attributed to pretty much any of the many people I recently met while visiting Bruny Island for the day.
But it was the custodian of the 125- year- old property Lumeah, Di Wilkinson, who spoke them as we sat sipping tea in the blackwood ( sourced from the island as you would expect) kitchen watching the rain pour over Adventure Bay.
This is Di’s permanent home but she also runs the property as self- contained accommodation as well as working fi ve days a week in Hobart, running a gallery and gift shop out of the house’s former breakfast room and washing dishes two nights a week at the Bruny pub.
“That’s the sort of love affair it is,” the ex- Queenslander explained. “Lady Lumeah is a demanding woman.” Di has owned the house for four years and converted it to solar power, installed the gallery which features island artists and made the property into the sort of holiday home where families can come and get back to nature.
This venture is one of the many different phases of the house’s history.
“The house has been a sawmill manager’s house, general store, post offi ce, camping ground, boarding house, backpackers and accommodation,” Di said.
“She’s part of the Bay. She’s just sat here and watched the world go by.”
The original sawmill manager and builder of Lumeah was Fredrick Gray Jr who learnt the trade from his father who had been transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1847 and was assigned to the Degraves family, of Cascade Brewery fame, where there was a sawmill behind the brewery.
Fredrick Gray Snr was the pioneer of the timber industry on Bruny, originally having a mill at Lunawanna before it was moved to Adventure Bay by his three sons.
“There were heaps of workman’s cottages along this stretch too,” said the great grandson of Fredrick Gray Sr, Rod Gray.
“They sold squared beams that were up to 100ft long. Some of the piers at Princes Wharf in Hobart were made from them. They also sold to South Africa and London. But the mill burnt down in 1918 and was never rebuilt.”
Timber of all kinds feature throughout the house which sleeps up to 11 people.
At some stage the front of the home was repositioned and what is now a spare bedroom
tends to sit empty the majority of the time. “This was maybe the sitting room, the fi rst room people entered,” Di explained.
“But anyone who has ever stayed in this room, including me, has not wanted to stay in it. It’s just a feeling; it just doesn’t feel good. Whether it was where they laid out bodies I’m not sure. That is what they did in those days.”
To celebrate Lumeah’s 125th birthday, Di is hosting an open day on December 1 in the hopes of digging out even more of the home’s
She’s part of the Bay. She’s just sat here and watched the world go by
past. “The idea of December 1 is to get as many of people to the house to tell their stories of living, working or staying there and to write in the book I’ve bought to record everything in,” she said.
“It will stay with the house for future owners. There’s a gap from about 1910- 1950 which is a blank for us, so anyone who can help, it would be very much appreciated. But anyone can come down and wander through the whole house because there won’t be any guests.”
Located at 3 Lumeah Rd, Adventure Bay, the house will be open from 10.30am- 3.30pm.
Visit www. lumeah- island. com. au for more information.