Tuesday, 15 November 2016


Hobbits on the move.

 The Como Gardens biannual open house week end is a major event on the local calendar these days. Every Autumn and Spring George and Pat Hetrel open up their unique property to raise monies for various emergency services. It is an act of kindness usually rewarded with huge crowds attending every event. It’s a wonderful place that has something for every age group and all are catered for. Along with the beautiful gardens and walking tracks, there is a miniature railway, a lake and activities including live bands and plays, a visit to the Como Gardens web site reveals how complete a day out it is. I, of course, have been there almost religiously every year and while sitting in my own back garden sipping a cup of tea admiring my newly mowed lawns I got to thinking how much of a nightmare it must be keeping the gardens at Como so perfect.

As I was pondering this train of thought I was staring at the Hobbit house sitting in a shady spot in a private corner of my yard and it occurred to me. “That lovely little piece of architecture is being wasted here”. If you aren’t aware of what I’m talking about you can read about it in the BBCN Issue 229 December 2014.
In a nut shell, the house was originally started by a friend and completed by me in 2014 to much media madness before quietly going back to a little monument to a quieter gentler place. I made a decision there and then that after I finished that cup of tea that I would ask someone if they were willing to take the Hobbit house and give it a new home where it could be enjoyed by much more than I was ever willing to allow in my back yard.
So I emailed George and Pat Hetrel of Como Gardens and asked if they would be interested in putting it in their garden ( mind you after all my visits I already had the perfect spot picked out) and awaited their answer. I only had to wait a couple of days with George emailed back accepting the offer and thanking me for the generous donation. He didn’t realise how excited I was they would graciously take the house and put it in their amazing garden.

The little Hobbit house had come a full circle, its original purpose was to be installed beside a creek bank in Belgrave as part of the Jamin Swaneveld’s WillowWoods property, which sadly no longer exists. I always hoped that the house would eventually find a home where it could be enjoyed as it was originally intended.
Moving the unit to Como Gardens meant arranging transport and a little bit of maintenance before it could be shifted. The main aim was to be completely installed and operating before the Spring Open Day which was the week end of 15th and 16th of October.
As anyone who has a pulse and lives in Melbourne will know that this spring has been very wet and while that is great for the dams and the flowers it made moving large rectangular objects that weight just shy of 150 kilos a bit difficult.
Our original date was abandoned when a week’s worth of rain had saturated the lawns at Como. Pat Hetrel- who was co-ordinating the move- was worried any attempt to move the structure from the driveway to the where its new home was would severely damage the lawns.
Of course, her concerns were warranted any vehicle would rip divots so deep and in the process eventually get bogged. So all we could do was wait. As we come to the end of September there was a brief period of mild weather but it was forecast that it would be followed by a longer run of inclement weather including rain, so Pat moved another scheduled planned move forward and hustled up some man power for the move to happen Saturday morning.

The Long Haul
New Interiors

Construction Time
ME and Pat Hetrel

I organised my end roping in a couple of my sons to transport all the fascia, fittings and furniture that bolt onto the unit that makes it a Hobbit house. Luckily Saturday, like the preceding Friday was a glorious sunny day with warm winds, hopes were high for an easy shift. It was a sight to behold when the transport arrived, Petite Pat with two burly guys in a Mercedes Sports pulling a 6x3 trailer. I felt guilt filling the boot with 15 inch pavers that we were using as a foundation. The load up went smoothly and it was off for the short drive to Como Gardens.
Pat had told us not to get too excited about an easy move, though the lawns look green, short and luscious underneath was a river of water and when you walked on the grass you could feel it shift under your weight as your foot sunk. Pat revealed the area she planned to put the Hobbit House. It was perfect, a little shady grotto that had the creek banks as its backdrop. The only problem was it was a good 200 metres from the trailer and the most direct route was across the lawn. We would have to carry the unit by hand. Even a trolley would get us a fraction of the way, so lucky there were five of us, we all grabbed a hand hold and lugged it while trying not to sink too far into the ground. I’m happy to say we did it with little fuss and in one quick albeit unsteady shuffle, the added bonus of the grotto being virtually dry was a welcome relief and we could move all the ancillary parts and begin reconstructing of the Hobbit house.
It was satisfying setting up and knowing the house was going to be enjoyed by much more people than sitting in my yard. After we had completed the initial build Pat gave us a quick peek around the gardens and some of the projects she was setting up for the Open Day.
You have to love a garden where one of the problems you have is that the foliage of some of your plants is being eaten by wild deer.
I believe the little Hobbit house had found a wonderful new resting place.

Post script. 

The next week. Well, the spring rains kept on coming and with the big weekend fast approaching the Open Day had to be cancelled. The saturated grounds would need more time to drain. Going ahead would mean safety concerns and lack of mobility not to mention a few thousand people ripping up and destroying the lawns. The good news is the Open Day was not canceled only postponed until the 12th and 13th of November. Still, a great event to look forward to.
Now with added Hobbit house.
Thanks to Pat and George Hetrel of Como, Kris of All Good Electrics and Jamin of Last Frontier Tattoos and Museum for making the move possible.

In situ on the day

News go out that something special was happening. Knox Leader 2-11-2016

Originally published in the Boronia and the Basin Community News No. 250 November 2016