Hid­den in the earth

An earth-cov­ered home was de­signed for a Be­lair block of land, Amy Noo­nan writes.

The Advertiser - Real Estate - - Front Page -

IT IS a prop­erty in which hob­bit Bilbo Bag­gins would feel very at home – an ar­chi­tec­turally de­signed earth-cov­ered house sur­rounded by trees. Julie Pawsey and her late hus­band com­mis­sioned ar­chi­tect Paul Mitchell to de­sign the house for their 4.08ha of land in Be­lair in 1993 and it was built by 1994.

‘‘Earth-cov­ered is safer in the Hills – the bush­fires just go over the top,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.

It means the Sheoak Rd house is also well hid­den, she adds.

‘‘When you come down the drive, you can’t see it – peo­ple some­times go away be­cause they can’t find it, but it is there,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.

The house is cur­rently con­fig­ured as two bed­rooms, two bath­rooms and a study, while a gal­ley kitchen with cork floor­ing has an ‘‘insinker­a­tor’’. A Euro­pean-style laun­dry is nearby.

There is an open-plan car­peted liv­ing area warmed by a slow­com­bus­tion stove in win­ter.

Mrs Pawsey says the house is sanc­tu­ary-like.

‘‘It’s very quiet. You can’t hear traf­fic, you don’t even know if it’s rain­ing un­less you look in the light wells,’’ she says.

It’s a pop­u­lar house in which to host guests or en­ter­tain.

‘‘Ev­ery­one loves the house and the sit­ing of it; they all say ‘I’d mind this house any­time’,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.

The views from the win­dows are in­cred­i­ble, she adds.

‘‘It’s got a very nice view of white gums mainly, and you can see the lights of the city at night,’’ Mrs Pawsey says.

‘‘You can see it through the trees – it is lovely.’’

Mrs Pawsey started grow­ing roses on the land but ad­mits it’s hard work and would rec­om­mend na­tive plants to the home’s fu­ture owner.

A con­cen­trated ‘‘weed purg­ing’’ pro­gram means the land has been re­turned to a more nat­u­ral state, with wild­flow­ers and rare flora abound­ing.

There is also the con­ve­nience of Be­lair – ‘‘a nice coun­try place and sub­urb’’ – a few min­utes away, and Black­wood about 10 min­utes’ drive.

Mrs Pawsey, who is down­siz­ing, says the prop­erty would suit re­tirees who have the time to en­joy the home and the land around it. ‘‘It’s very nice land,’’ she says. ‘‘It over­looks the val­ley and the city. It’s very peace­ful, quiet and beau­ti­ful.’’

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