July 23, 2024


We Do Fine Home

A 1980s Bushland Home Built Entirely From Recycled Materials

This mudbrick Healesville, Victoria home is completely one of a kind—a product of its entirely recycled material and handmade construction by owners Robert and Judy Holland. 

The couple purchased the bushland block in the mid 1980s as a completely blank slate. ‘Its appeal was obvious with its abundance of wildlife and stunning landscape with views out towards the mountains,’ says Judy. 

A rigger by trade, Robert was looking to create a viable alternative to the many ‘cookie cutter’ houses of the time by using a fully recycled material palette.

He started from scratch, using mudbricks and rock excavated from the property with dynamite to build the walls up to 45 feet high.  

Salvaged jarrah and ironbark timbers feature inside and out, including huge beams salvaged from Sydney’s Manly pier during a refurbishment in the late ‘80s.

‘We named our eldest son Jarrah because of this and because they are such a strong and steady tree,’ says Judy. 

Other recycled materials include salvaged baltic pine on the cathedral ceilings and walls; aged lanolin soaked flooring sourced from sheep shearing sheds in NSW; antique windows with their original glass; and Victorian skirting boards.

A wagon wheel saved from an old steam tractor is integrated into the upper storey wall, allowing heat from the lounge room fireplace to flow into the upstairs bedroom. Even some of the bolts in the home came from old telephone poles. 

It took many years for this house to be completed, but the mammoth task was made possible due to Robert’s tenacity and vision. 

‘Robert is fierce with his capabilities,’ says Judy. ‘Even if he has to go away and have a think about a solution to something, he is always able to come back to it and translate it into reality.’

The home’s name, Kalamunda House, comes from the Aboriginal words Cala (home) and Munnda (forest), thus meaning, ‘A home in the forest.’