A one, a two, a one, two, three, four…

Sunset over the forest
Sunset from the house, looking over the forest


Picking up from where I left off is best done with some mellow jazz in the background…click on the link just above or, if you don’t dig the jazz or can’t have the sound on right now, let’s accept that it’s too bad and just keep reading.

Buying up

Following my last post, I’d like to start by telling you how the purchase of our new property was a whole another ordeal. We were financed to buy, but not at an auction and the property was listed for auction within less than two weeks. Almost immediately after visiting the property we called the agent and organised to put in an offer to buy prior to auction…and it was accepted without even any negotiations!

For it to all work out though, all the conditions on the contract had to be fulfilled within the incredibly short amount of time or it would fall through and the auction would go ahead as originally planned. This involved having a range of standard checks on the buildings and the land ownership. I also decided to have several wall and ceiling panels tested for asbestos by personally running some samples to a Brisbane lab, which turned out clear too. A few of us, including the seller and the agent, were actually quite surprised by that!

Overall this was a very stressful process, especially due to the time restriction posed by the looming auction date. We’d come close to buying previously and already had a number of disappointments behind us. In fact we were just about to give up, thinking that our criteria was never going to work with our budget. Having found this place changed everything. It suddenly made sense why all the other properties hadn’t worked out and we were pumped and super-motivated to own it. We knew it was home and it had to work!


We literally just made it in time to go unconditional and within a few weeks we got the keys. Now the big move was up: once we were all packed (mostly Jenny’s HUGE effort – one of our ongoing deals is that she packs it and I carry it, whatever it is), we did it all ourselves over a couple of days with the very kind help of a few friends and a hired truck. About that: I researched the best deal online, based on all the inclusions offered. The most important consideration for us was to have unlimited mileage as we had to travel a just under 400Km round trip several times. I drove about 35mins to where I picked the truck up, which is not that close, but saved a bunch. I also asked them to let me borrow some moving blankets and ropes and picked the truck up on a Saturday. Since the office was closed on Sundays, we essentially had it until the Monday for one day worth of hiring costs. DO YOUR RESEARCH, IT PAYS OFF!

The new digs

When we moved in, the property consisted of an amazing parcel of largely forested land, a gorgeous 114yrs old timber house that had been the principal’s recidence at a primary school in a nearby town and a double lock up shed with two carports. That’s it, nothing else. The only infrastructure were the two water tanks totalling 60,000L worth of storage, the septic tank and a grey water system that made absolutely no sense, but at least was there…more on this later.

Every single window of the house had amazing and extensive views of the native forest, garden beds or the vast valley and characteristic farmland for many miles out to the mountain range in the far distance. We had a major river right at the bottom of the hill and a seasonal creek with waterfalls and natural rockpools within the boundaries, as well as a big patch of remnant rain forest down the gully. The main tree species included spotted gums, blue gums and hoop pines which also led me to work with timber sometime down the track, but I might leave that for another post.

The creek that ran through one side of the property was an amazing spot to chill out in the forest and dip in the waterholes in absolute privacy, especially on hot days…

The house itself was very solid, built with redwoods that are very hard to find these days unless recycled and joinery that we’re probably not even capable of anymore. I was amazed when I realized that the only metal that was used in the roof was the cyclone strapping that had to be added when the house had been moved, to comply with the current requirements. Not even a nail up there, all hand chiselled and sawn. The rooms were large, even though some of the layout was odd. There were additions from different stages and what had been a wrap around veranda, was now a mostly closed in sun room.

Some initial transformations

Along one side, the sun room turned into a double vanity, large shower and separate toilet that served as an ensuite bathroom to the master bedroom, through double French doors. At the end of this, there was a square space that had been used as an office. Being attached to the bathroom seemed odd at best so we transformed it into a fantastic and very functional walk in wardrobe with just a few tools, some melamine and a couple of rods.

First, we cut and fitted a few panels, also framing the windows…

Then some shelves and rods, at custom heights for our needs…

Then we had a kitted out walk in wardrobe where it made perfect sense…


A couple of bigger jobs

One of the very first things we did was to have a 4.5Kw solar system installed. I had already had a smaller one installed on our Brisbane house some years before and was positively benefiting from feeding it into the grid. We hadn’t payed a power bill the whole time since, and I wanted to keep it that way. Between the two systems, it worked out perfectly. Note: For this job, we contracted an electrical installer from the Sunshine Coast who offered a great deal, but had also been in business for over thirty years in the same location. This represented a very important guarantee for the future in terms of resolving any potential issues, warranty claims etc.

I organised to have the system split into half of the panels facing north and the other half facing west. This was mainly due to the limited space available on the north-facing aspect of the roof, where we already had a separate and excellent Solar Hot Water System taking space, and wanting to maximise sun exposure through the afternoon.

The bracketing went up first…

Solar Install 1

Then the panels…

Solar install 2

Then it was all about wiring, installing an inverter near our existing power panels and we were hooked up!

Not long after that, we decided that the next thing to tackle would be our water independence. Our water tank storage was pretty good for the three of us and occasional visitors, but we knew how bad and long droughts can be and couldn’t fathom how we’d manage to have any animals if we didn’t have access to other water sources.

Once we established that a dam was going to be way too hard, costly and unreliable due to the topography and geology of the block we had a recommended water diviner come around. The guy was immediately drawn to the most convenient spot you could imagine…right next to the shed where we could most easily power a pump and most simply and cheaply pipe it to anywhere we would want to. We then had a bore drilled, which took twice the amount of time planned but only half what we had budgeted for. The original estimate was that we may have to go about 60m down to get good water and pressure, but we hit water at 22m and only kept going to a 37m depth for decent pressure. The other good news was the reason why it took two days to drill instead of one: a full 9m sheet of blue metal rock was right between our feet and the aquifer below!

The location couldn’t have been better…

Bore drill 1

The rig hard at work…

Bore drill 2

Non stop blue metal rock coming up in gravel form that I also recycled months later to fill holes in our driveway…

Bore drill 3

Once it was drilled and cased, thousands of dollars worth of submersible pump went down the hole never to be seen again, but always appreciated. Note: don’t go cheap on the pump, reliability is not worth compromising on with this one…I’ve heard enough stories and only recommend the top couple of brands…

Bore pump

Once we (literally) kissed the pump goodbye, the bore was capped and fitted with a pressure gauge and taps. I also later added more tapped outlets as I needed them…

Capped and completed bore

The water tested clear of absolutely anything undesirable and only had traces of magnesium and other good minerals so we were set for good. Permaculture projects, farm animals and expanding the existing gardens were now 100% feasible.

More to come

In the next few posts I’ll fill you in on other improvements, mishaps and lessons from the direction we took the property in as well as the animal friends we had there along the way.

I hope you’re enjoying my posts, please let me know!


2 thoughts on “A one, a two, a one, two, three, four…”

  1. Sorry for the delay Giigi. You asked if we liked your posts and should you keep them coming, Yes and Yes. Of course, when time permits and that it’s not a chore 🙂

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