Building Our Bush Cabin – part 1

We’ve been camping on our bush block almost every available weekend now for a few years and have gradually progressed from cheap dome tent (above), to nice big canvas tent (which you can kinda see in the background of the other pics) and now an old 1969 Bedford bus converted to a motorhome (I might just do another short post on this old beauty). But I’ve always wanted to build a quaint little bush cabin. Problem was the missus and I were debating (no we never argue!) for a while whether to just start building our “proper” house or whether to build a small cabin that we could live in so we could move to the block sooner and then start on the “proper” house once we were there full time. I was in favour of the cabin, just something fairly basic that we could get up fast, the missus was in favour of just getting on with the house.

We ended up with a compromise. The cabin design was made bigger than we had first planned, but smaller than we’d really want for a house (the missus says this is so we don’t get too comfortable and never build the house… women, gotta love em!).

I’d always loved the Swiss chalet style, I think it is because of the memories I have of the beautiful Swiss countryside and quaint little villages I saw there on a holiday to Europe way back when I was a 6 year old. Anyhow, after much deliberation and many scrapped design ideas we ended up with a design that quite clearly shows it’s chalet influence, as you’ll see. We decided on a nice site, which was on a bit of a rise over looking the little bit of cleared land we have and I set about digging out and pouring the concrete pads for the brick piers.

Pads poured and cured I now had to tackle brick-laying for the first time ever. I had a friend help out who had building experience but we struggled with the pre packaged mortar mix I had bought, it just wasn’t behaving like mortar should, whenever any pressure was put on it it would go stiff which made it very hard to tap down the bricks to level. After a fair amount of cursing we gave up. A week or so later, after some phone calls and advice we decided to make our own mix from cement powder, some lime, “fatty” sand and a few squirts of detergent. Once we had the mortar mix down pat it was full steam ahead!

A few weeks pass and the piers are done and cured and I have to find some nice big bearers to take the longish span between them. The span is about 4 metres at the longest point as I had made the piers with a larger than standard footprint so that I could save time building less of them (I didn’t take to brick-laying too well!). I found a Yellow Box that had been lopped a long time ago and that had shot out about new 7 new trunks which were straight enough and almost 30cm diameter each. I took one out, cut it to length, debarked it and ripped it down the middle with the chainsaw to produce two long lengths. The third bearer I harvested from a Red Stringy Bark that also had multiple trunks and also ripped it down the middle. I’m still to find a use for the other half but no doubt I will.

Now with the logs cut, debarked, ripped and notched out for the piers I had to somehow get these monsters in place! Out comes the trusty Discovery with it’s electric winch to the rescue. With a bit of effort before too long the bearers are in place. Time for a beer!

And a relaxing evening by the camp fire…

Stay tuned for part two…

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