BY KIDS

Townsville Bulletin - - INSPIRE -

ac­cess to chlo­rine they put gup­pies into the water so they would eat any al­gae or mos­quito lar­vae. Upon re­call­ing the mem­ory, a grin came to Peter’s face. “It was re­ally good fun,” Peter chuck­led. “We used to swim there all the time.” Peter’s me­chan­i­cal ap­ti­tude is a great strength he has al­ways pos­sessed along with his strong fam­ily ties. In this mem­ory from his early child­hood you can see glimpses of it in his fam­ily.

Peter at­tended pri­mary school in Townsville at Her­mit Park State School. High school was a busy time in Peter’s life with a job at the Bul­letin from three in the morn­ing un­til seven, three morn­ings a week and from 1.30am in the morn­ing on a Satur­day. With sport­ing com­mit­ments as well, Peter jok­ingly re­marked “school came about tenth down the line”. It was at the age of 14 that Peter be­gan to look for a job. “I be­came an ap­pren­tice elec­tri­cian be­cause that was the job in the pa­per the day I was look­ing. That’s my sort of pre­s­e­lec­tion for you,” Peter laughed. “But it worked out well. I en­joyed it.”

It was at this young age that Peter met Lori, his soon to be wife. Peter earnestly re­counted their first meet­ing. “We used to go to this cafe ev­ery lunchtime on Satur­days. She was sit­ting with a cou­ple of my other friends and one of those girls said ’ Oh, do you wanna take Lori to the movies?’ I said ’ Yeah that sounds good’. And that sort of was a bit of a chance meet­ing, but it just went on from there.” To­gether Lori and Peter had three hand­some sons and one beau­ti­ful daugh­ter.

Rather than mov­ing out at 17, the sit­u­a­tion some­what re­versed. “When I was 17 my dad was posted away so my par­ents left home.” Peter said laugh­ing at the irony, and so Peter stayed in Townsville for a while. Peter was mar­ried at 19 and bought his first house at 20. He had some suc­cess­ful jobs in Mel­bourne sur­round­ing project plan­ning in con­struc­tion but be­fore that he had some mon­e­tary trou­ble.

“When I got a job in work study which halved my in­come,” Peter ex­plained. “We strug­gled for a lit­tle while and Lori had to go out and get a job for a while to sup­port us. In the end or later years it paid off. I got very good money and got a house for $ 10 a week. It did in the long term pay off but we went through a cou­ple of years of re­ally strug­gling fi­nan­cially.” Af­ter a long and suc­cess­ful ca­reer as an elec­tri­cian, and work­ing in con­struc­tion he had the skills he needed to build his house.

Peter and Lori chose to buy a block of land at Mt El­liot in Al­li­ga­tor Creek. The land was a big hill and the house site cho­sen was near the top. He only worked on the project on week­ends as he was still work­ing full time.

Af­ter his re­tire­ment Peter started work­ing on the house full time. There were many prob­lems Peter faced dur­ing the con­struc­tion. “The big prob­lem I had was weight,” Peter said, his voice fill­ing with ex­cite­ment as he sat for­ward in his chair. “When I or­dered the steel they de­liv­ered 25 tonnes of steel down at the bot­tom of the block, so I had to get all of these 12m length blocks of steel up the hill.” To over­come this, Peter used his knowl­edge to de­sign an elab­o­rate set of pul­leys al­low­ing him to move this enor­mous weight by him­self. Many an af­ter­noon Peter could be seen work­ing tire­lessly in the heat, mov­ing each mas­sive beam with skill and pre­ci­sion like that of a ma­chine.

It was Peter’s stun­ning pa­tience and per­sis­tence that al­lowed him to con­quer these prob­lems. “I love my fam­ily. I’m a fam­ily man, and with my per­son­al­ity, I like my home to be some­thing spe­cial for them.” The im­pres­sive steel skele­ton and durable con­crete filled walls make this house im­pen­e­tra­ble. The unique idea of an oc­tag­o­nal house had struc­tural value as well as aes­thetic ap­peal.

“The de­sign was im­por­tant be­cause even though the house I’ve just built is 14 me­tres across there is only six me­tres of any wall that is fac­ing the wind all around the house,” Peter ex­plained, warm­ing to one of his favourite top­ics. “So if you get a cy­clone the six me­tre wall will take a bit of stress but the two side walls will brace that wall. In a nor­mal square house there is quite a long side fac­ing the wind and there is very lit­tle brac­ing in the mid­dle. So it’s a lot weaker than what mine is.” Jok­ingly he added, “My house is like a fortress with jun­gle and ev­ery­thing.”

When asked why he was so de­ter­mined to build his own house, he an­swered im­me­di­ately and hon­estly. “I wanted to build my own de­sign. I built it right on top of a hill which caused some prob­lems in terms of get­ting re­cep­tion, water and power up there. But it was worth it, just for the view. It’s strong, stronger than most be­cause I over­built it. I’m very happy with the de­sign of it. So I just wanted to do it my­self. The thing I like about doing it my­self is if you don’t like some­thing when you do it, it can be changed. Noth­ing is set in stone. But if you sort of do it with a builder they have set pat­terns for doing things and they don’t like changes. We’ve adapted a few things. You can do what you want to do and there are no con­straints.”

Af­ter 20 years of pa­tience and hard work Peter has made a beau­ti­ful home with his own two hands. Over the course of its con­struc­tion, Peter stu­diously ac­quired what­ever skills he needed to build his house; weld­ing, paint­ing, any­thing he could learn. Though some may see Peter is just a man who built a house, in the eyes of his fam­ily and loved ones he will al­ways be a king who worked hard and long to build his cas­tle.

Peter Hurst and the steel skele­ton of Peter’s two storey master­piece, Peter with his wife Lori, and the pul­ley sys­tem Peter used to lift the steel beams.

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