East Coast luxury getaway
ADRAMATIC home set on Tasmania’s rugged East Coast is a prime example of off- the- grid living without sacrifi cing any creature comforts.
showcase of self- reliance, the house draws its water, electricity and warmth from the elements.
Susan West built Thalia Haven about 12 years ago on a private, 50ha wooded peninsula.
Four ancient- looking stone cottages are clustered around olive tree courtyards on the edge of the ocean.
Sleeping up to 10 people, Thalia Haven is about 2km from its nearest road or neighbour, which means there are no lights to interrupt stargazers.
The main building has space for a crowd of people, highlighted by huge open fi replaces in the dining and living areas. It was also designed with privacy in mind, should it be needed. And a wall of windows open fully, allowing in the sounds and smells of the ocean.
Susan said her experience in building a project of this scope in Tasmania was fantastic because, with patience and a little effort, “you can fi nd everything in Tasmania”.
“If you look long enough and talk to the right people, you will fi nd amazing craftsmen with incredible skills,” she said.
Susan and her partner chose the award- winning husband- and- wife team of Morrison & Breytenbach Architects to design their dream home after being impressed with the feel of their work on the Tarremah Steiner School.
The team from RockStar Construction spent about three years on Thalia’s stonemasonry, while builder Jed Butler – a specialist in recycled timber – was used for his rich knowledge of what was available around the state.
“We were overseas when Jed called at 3am to say he had found a wooden bridge that would be perfect to be re- purposed for our beams,” Susan said.
“These beautiful weathered beams had to have the bitumen sandblasted off them, but it was well worth the effort.
“These timbers have a story to tell, you can feel them.”
Thalia Haven boasts a unique style not found in many, if any, Tasmanian residences.
Inside is a colossal single stone block that crowns the living room fi replace, there are black limestone fl oors that retain the sun’s warmth, and outside is a bath with taps that rise from an aged branch of Huon pine.
While the house’s location on a cliff face and a fi replace that you can cook over are some of Susan’s favourite elements, she said people were blown away when they saw the bath on the deck.
“With the location’s absolute privacy, you can use the bath at any time of the day and it is remarkable in any weather,” she said. “We use it twice a day.” Located near the bath is a wood- fi red sauna and an outdoor shower.
“Great Oyster Bay is as beautiful as any stretch of water in the world – from the Great Barrier Reef to the Mediterranean,” Susan said. “There are often seals and dolphins, and occasional visits by whales.
“And you can swim without a wetsuit a couple of months a year – plenty for a cooler climate like ours.”
Last year, Susan and her family moved out of Thalia Haven to a new house in the Huon, one that features similar rockwork by the RockStar team.
The good news for everyone else is Thalia Haven, winner of the 2013 Australia’s Best Houses TV show, is now available as holiday accommodation.
These timbers have a story to tell, you can feel them