Appreciating winter: plans, schemes and realising dreams


This week feels like a bit of landmark. The extra daylight that’s been gradually building since the winter solstice has turned into early blooms and blossom. The silver wattles on our block are a sea of yellow, the ornamental cherries along the highway add a splash of pink on my drive to work, the silver birch and elm of the Huon Valley are budding and slowly becoming green again. The clover that stalled in growth in May has started to kick on again as the terraces and bus are bathed in sun for a couple of hours each day. And to top it off we even have daffodils popping up on the bank beside the driveway!


Springs arrival

Having lived in the tropics for the best part of the last 10 years these subtle changes have given me new appreciation of winter. The slowing down, the dormancy, the resting and waiting until everything is just right to get going again. It’s something that I know I definitely need It’s something intuitive but worth noting again. Living in Mount Barnett if there was something done we would get out and do it then and there. Great for work ethic but not the best for efficiency.

Here we’ve learnt to sit back and watch. To see the sun trail across our land. Witness the shadows of summer, autumn and winter. The terraces and slopes going from full summer sun to winter shade. To hear the creeks flow for a week after a heavy deluge. To see the water create it’s own path down the driveway and the way in which a simple trench to the side has diverted most of this water.Even the constant struggle and frustration with mould and condensation has made us appreciate more the need- and value- for a well ventilated and insulated home.


A view from the lower house pad looking across the terraces to the bus. The posts in the foreground is Oscar and Yoda’s soon to be new day run.


Last year we shared a post on visioning our dream . In it we wrote of all our dreams for the site. We talked of animals, of multiple sitting areas, aquaponics, possible market gardens and sub-tropical and tropical greenhouses. With the lengthening days and the prospects of getting stuck into some of these things we sat down the other week and went through our plans. Reassessing to see what 6 months on the site had changed.

Out went somethings such as aquaponics (not enough water at the moment), tropical and subtropic greenhouse, a market garden and some of the animals. The rest though we agreed were still our priority and so using some of our plans we’d developed we sat down earlier this month to work out our new plan and projects for upcoming spring. The following images show some of our plans.

Water schematic/ property overview


An april overview map depicting the water flow as it travels down the property.

This picture above is a birds eye overview of the property. It is not accurate or does not have measurements but it gives an idea of where things are in our property. The  arrows depict the way in which the water flows down of our property when it rains. The circles are trees and the long rectangle on the second terrace is the worm seat that we made in an earlier post. This overview then become our working template for the two designs below.

Plan 1: May


An early iteration of our design. Notice the elongated deck and the changed positions of the outdoor kitchen and table.

This design was what we settled on before winter come. By this stage we had built the steps so that path become part of the design. Back in Mount Barnett we had success with some raised garden beds so had thought of using those for our kitchen garden. We had been also toying around with the idea of having a couple of fruit trees in the area behind the bus. The back sections of the terrace- behind the shed- we had earmarked us our kitchen and outdoor dining area.

At this stage we thinking of having a whole bus length decking and converting our carport into a shed/studio. An idea that we turned when we

August Plan: current working plan


Our current working design. The outdoor kitchen and yoga studio have changed and the deck and front area of the bus is now more compact.

This plan is our current plan that we settled late last week when walking around the terrace. The deck has become smaller and we’ve utilised some jarrah decking rather than the pallets for this. The pallets are now outdoor island decking on which an outdoor table will sit. This front area will become a meadow of cottage flowers and grasses with a brick paver path through it to the shed.

The kitchen and table have changed as we have now set on building a yoga studio on one of the terraces. We are also looking at utilising the roof of the yoga studio to catch some water in order to have an outdoor bath. The design also has some deciduous vines growing up trellis as summer shade as with the sun now hitting the bus we beginning to remember the heat that of the bus in summer. The raised beds are now probably going to be hugel beds.

We’ve also moved our kitchen to closer to the bus. This space is further from the trees therefore probably better spot for a wood fire stove. The slope and the path stay the same. The design also includes a dog run that we have started construction on and a clothesline for summer. The fruit trees have now become a food forest which we will design further. At the moment we finishing off our pallet island and about to begin work on the size of our raised/hugelkultur beds.


One of the dreams of writing this blog was to hopefully one day get something published about our little adventure. It was a fanciful dream which to my amazement become a reality in May when I was approached by The Owner Builder magazine to write a piece for them. The piece follows the first 4 months of the build and is published in the current issue- issue 196- of The Owner Builder. The article is entitled From a bus to a home, click on the link and it should come up there. The rest of the magazine has articles on strawbales, tyre wall machinery shed and other renovation and building profiles.


An excerpt of our article. Click on the link above and you should be able to download a copy.








5 thoughts on “Appreciating winter: plans, schemes and realising dreams

  1. Congratulations on getting your story into print. We are still waiting for the rains to stop so that the soil will start to dry out a bit as everything is completely saturated and we have to wear wellies everywhere (even to walk the dog at the local ovals). It has been the wettest year I have ever seen since we moved here in 2007. I dare say the summer will probably be one of the driest so we are trying to gauge when to start getting stuck in to digging etc. as there is a very fine line in Northern Tasmania, between slushy mud and ceramic hardness. Love the sound of all of your plans. Can’t wait to see how it all pans out. Cheers for sharing it all with us.


  2. Congratulations Scott & Deirdre, In December 2015 the Mc Gowan family were sitting around the dining table in Wandong; Hugh & I were thinking WHAT ARE THEY THINKING AND DOING!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are very proud of what you have you have done and achieved. We enjoyed reading Scotts article and thank you for the hard copy Deirdre. Mam & Dad McGowan


  3. Have always loved reading your adventures, but only recently got around s to subscribing.
    Can’t tell you just HOW excited we were when we opened the OB to find you in there :)))) lol
    We’re now doing our very own adventure up here in the far north ( ) so you’re regularly giving us that kick of inspiration we need – even if you don’t realise it!

    Keep dreaming big, keep writing, keeping enjoying the process, and know you’re appreciated and that we’re along for the ride with you :))
    Sarah & Suzey


    • Hi Sarah and Suzey. Thanks for the lovely comments. Its a nice thought and feeling to be followed by someone on the other side of the country. Glad you’re enjoying the blog and the process and picked up the owner builder. You’re adventure looks quite interesting too. Be a transformation come the wet. Those dramatic skies and the water on the land I’m sure it’ll give good insight into water catchment and the likes. Keep up the adventures. It’s worth it even when feels exhausting at times. cheers


  4. Gday U 2

    Nice little piece in The Owner Builder. Also nice to visit ya blog with a little more flesh added to the bones of this story.

    We are in The Huon heading in a similar direction.

    For now taking a breather … but will have to ‘pick ya brains’ on the solar plumbing options … etc … etc.



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