Mag­i­cal spot a home to dragons

Central Leader - - NEWS - By MARNIE HAL­LA­HAN

You’d never guess who lives un­der our har­bour bridge.

Be­neath the canopy of great steel trusses and thou­sands of cars mak­ing their way from north to south and south to north live Mil­lie the dragon and her hope­ful suitor Will­heim Belch­much.

It wasn’t long af­ter Brian Hol­loway and his wife Jay moved into No 1 Princes St that they met th­ese mag­i­cal crea­tures who re­side on the slopes of North­cote Point.

The Hol­loways have lived un­der­neath the iconic bridge for al­most 30 years. Not that you would know it once you stepped through the doors of their 100-year old villa.

‘‘That’s the funny thing,’’ Brian says. ‘‘ You can’t ac­tu­ally see the bridge from any­where in the house or hear it. It’s quite hid­den.’’

One could for­give a re­tired yachtie for in­dulging in fairy­tales and friend­ships with dragons in his spec­tac­u­lar back­yard.

‘‘The am­bi­ence of this place is in­cred­i­ble.

‘‘At night time we look across to a fairy­tale city.

‘‘And when there are fire­works, this is the best seat in the house.’’

The cou­ple’s sec­tion reaches down to the water, with a pri­vate beach and their cata­ma­ran Whiskers anch- ored a few me­tres out.

‘‘We swim and fish from the beach and have our dingy tied up there and we row out to the boat.

‘‘If it wasn’t for the bridge this would be par­adise on earth.’’

When Brian moved in all those years ago the cliff was a sheer drop which he’s slowly trans­formed into a green won­der­land.

His first glimpse of the Princes St house was al­most 20 years be­fore that when he was a marine bro­ker vis­it­ing a client.

‘‘I was just gob­s­macked,’’ he says.

‘‘A seed was planted and I thought that if ever there was a day that I’d be lucky enough to buy this house, I’d be in heaven,’’ he says.

And lucky he was, houses in this neigh­bour­hood are rarely up for sale.

‘‘It’s a neat lit­tle com­mu­nity, we’ve had the same nextdoor neigh­bours for 25 years and they’re won­der­ful.’’

For 11 years the cou­ple opened their home to vis­i­tors from around the world as a bed and break­fast.

‘‘We worked out that we’d had around 8500 peo­ple stay here,’’ Mr Hol­loway says.

‘‘And there’s hardly one of them who wasn’t blown away by this place.’’

Vis­i­tors were in­tro­duced to Mr Hol­loway’s won­der­land and the res­i­dent dragons. And with this the dragon fam­ily has grown.

‘‘Peo­ple really get into it and we get sent dragons from all over the world – each with their own lit­tle story.’’

Liv­ing in such a trea­sured patch of par­adise it’s easy to un­der­stand their out­spo­ken op­po­si­tion to fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the bridge or the pro­posal of a sec­ond har­bour cross­ing which would’ve seen them sand­wiched be­tween two hefty struc­tures.

‘‘It would have bro­ken your heart to have lived around here back in the day and had your house taken over for the bridge,’’ he says.

In fact the grand­son of the woman who lived in the house in the 1950s when the har­bour bridge was built knocked on the door one day, Mr Hol­loway says, and asked if we would do an af­ter­noon tea for her birth­day and we had a lit­tle party for her.

She rem­i­nisced about the days be­fore con­struc­tion started when the whole of North­cote Point was sur­rounded in straw­berry fields.

The straw­berry fields are long gone but the views are still breath­tak­ing.

‘‘Ah yes, ev­ery­thing about this place is magic, there’s no other word to de­scribe it,’’ Mr Hol­loway says.

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