56 Woolton Avenue, Thornbury VIC 3071
Quandong: A piece of country sanctuary in the inner city!
We invite your personal inspection to fully appreciate what this special property offers in this wonderful heritage precinct!
Inspection by Private Appointment only! Nelson Alexander Pty Ltd.
I moved here in November 2003 from Canberra. I had numerous items on my weighted checklist – many of them a reaction to my 11 square ex-govvy first house in suburban ACT. This house ticked all the mandatory and desirable criteria (such as northerly-aspect rear, high ceilings, large garden, public transport, double-brick), as well as a few I hadn’t even put to paper (the back house and nearby church bells).
What I hadn’t bargained for were the best neighbours I’ve ever had! The sense of community in this street could not be bought – I feel very blessed to have landed in such a wonderful community. We got together to save no. 53 (?) from a hideous apartment development, by going to VCAT. In the end, we didn’t win on merit, but by attrition. Our new lovely neighbour bought the heritage-listed property and has done amazing renovations that retain the rural homestead feel. This was also the time we highlighted the heritage overlay with Council, which forms the Woolton Avenue Heritage Precinct.
The house was built in 1935 and was pretty awful when I arrived – it didn’t even have a kitchen sink indoors! Besides many small improvements over time such as solar hot water (evacuated tubes) and photovoltaic power, I initiated two major renovations: in 2008 and 2012/13. The initial concept design for both stages was done by architect Ande Bunbury (http://www.abarchitects.com.au/) and local builder Michael Warren. The design focussed on sustainability (according to the times), so small rooms and living spaces were created. A single door (and recently a window) separating the south and north sections of the house create a venturi effect for rapid cooling after a heat wave – or to catch a breeze at the end of a hot day.
Just after the first stage renovation I installed hydronic heating. That was an exponential improvement over the single gas heater and the open fire. The final stage plans that involved the north-west extension and internalising the kitchen sink were drawn up by SunPower Design (http://www.sunpowerdesign.com.au/). The “family room” is designed to serve as a bedroom, if desired. The kitchen/dining area floor was sanded and varnished after Stage 1. However, it proved unsuitable for dancing (sticky). So at completion of Stage 2, all floors in back of the house were surfaced for dancing (successfully).
Visitors frequently remark that it feels like a piece of the country in the city here. I’ve had many AirBnB guests who find my home very relaxing and peaceful and had many return guests. The thick double-brick walls keep the house cool in summer. The main house is also very peaceful due to the muffling of external noise. The renovations were designed to bring the garden indoors and invite the light into the house. In winter this is particularly warm and cosy; in summer, although warmer than the front of the house, still remains cool due to the good insulation and double glazing.
The back house is different as it has the stunning view over the city – it’s great to wake up to that view! The attic provides a good vantage point for watching fireworks and fly-overs as well as moon events. And just the city lights… Having the home office separate from the domestic quarters is essential for mental health – especially when I was working 80-100hrs/week! The walk to my day job in the city during the period was a critical relaxation time too.
Only after I’d completed the final renovation/extension was I able to address the garden. In 2014 I did the Complete Urban Gardener course at CERES, which gave me the skills and knowledge to get started on a productive garden – and chooks! That is still a work-in-progress. There are ringtail-possum boxes in each macadamia tree.
Living in Thornbury is true bliss: every type of public transport and easy access to Tullamarine, Calder and Hume freeways and the Western Ring Road.
I used to walk to work every day into the city (around 1h 10m), but often took the tram (or train) home. It’s great to know if there’s a public transport failure, I can always walk home. I often ride my bicycle into the city if I need a quick round trip though.
Eating and entertainment is as rich in Thornbury as anywhere. The Thornbury Local is a great bar where I often take interstate visitors for trivia night on a Tuesday. The Thornbury Theatre is one of the best venues in Melbourne and the nearby Croxton has many international touring acts. Lentil As Anything is on High Street just opposite the Croxton and Iroha Japanese Kitchen is one of my favourites locally.
CERES is a short hop across the Merri Creek and the Lomond is a good pub for music just opposite 3RRR radio. And of course, we are a very few minutes from the shopping delights of High Street, Brunswick Street and a bit further to Sydney Road (esp. Dejour Jeans) – all fabulous!
People here are outstandingly friendly. Any time I’m in the front garden, I nearly always strike up a conversation with a neighbour or passer-by. I’ve met some truly marvellous people while here.