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.