In The Rough


  • Breamlea Verisimilitude
  • Latest Stock At Timberzoo

breamlea verisimilitude

Sometimes an admiration of other people's houses is based on something hard to pin down - not just good design. Nothing that leaps out at you. It may simply be a fundamental carelessness, unaffected poise or a blithe - nigh disinterested - quality that beguiles without trying too hard.

The same can be said for towns. There are many that have a repetitious character - doggedly predictable, devoid of mystery or tangible history. Other settlements exert a strong allure and have meaningful identity. Despite familiar styles of building, despite recognisable forms of planning, they can be considered as sui generis.

Some settlements have the boding of retreat - even exile - from the bigger world. Think of the shacks on Port Phillip Bay's Avalon shore. Other shack communities straggle south of the Arthur River, on Tasmania's wet west coast. But not all such settlements are remote or so single-minded. Some just go unnoticed lying at the end of secondary roads. Many have a character that is independent - but not insular. It is barely surprising that the people who inhabit these settlements also have an independent cast of mind and spirit compatible with the place.

Beach shacks, Eyre Peninsula South Australia

In one such locale on the coast - Breamlea - I visited the retreat of Margie Delahunty-Spencer and her husband Mark. Breamlea is a linear maunder of beach houses on the lee side of sand dunes found past Thirteenth Beach. It overlooks - on the inland view - coastal wetlands forming an effective barrier against any direct approach to the township. With no through traffic, Breamlea is unbothered by the nearby and fast-growing township of Torquay - though, plainly, residents hope to see no Torquay two-deckers on their western skyline at any time in the future.

I found myself applying the usual forensic scrutiny as I approached up a sandy embankment - mentally assembling a misguided scenario that had a small fibro cottage torn apart, modified and ingeniously reformed into a liveable beach house while retaining raw 1950s utilitarian appeal. But nay - this dwelling is a new construction from the ground up - and one that has appropriated a strong sense of place and belonging as it emerged. It had me wrong-footed from the outset. The cement sheet cladding, the shading eaves, the timber detail and the traditional Aussie single car garage - used - as always - for stuff and surfboards and the Holden gets parked out front.


The heart of Delahunty-Spencer's house lies in its soulful and imaginative use of timber. Ocean Grove builder Lachlan Skinner understood the design intent worked through by Peter Vernon Architects - and was able to intuit the right materials for this project. Where other builders baulked at the selection of materials - including recycled - Skinner found a timber language to express the client's very specific design. 

An honest vernacular palette of materials is used on the exterior. Silvertop Ash strapping defines the join of cement sheet cladding panels while Blackbutt Wharfdeck does duty as a muscular baseboard below an elevated floor. These are weather-durable and fire-rated species that had to meet Delahunty-Spencer's building code specifications. They will silver to a driftwood grey without loss of longevity or integrity as part of the building fabric. When they do, they will have a more organic connection with the recycled sleeper base of the building. The sturdy ironbarks salvaged from a rail line upgrade between Parkes and Broken Hill anchor this beach house in its dune base.

Inside and out, in the realm of living room and deck, Timberzoo's dyad of brown Stringybarks and Blackbutt Wharfdeck provide a sensible beach house symphony of tone and welcome. Delahunty-Spencer is relieved she chose, in the end, a naturally-featured floorboard for the Breamlea build. A proper antidote to the glossy-magazine-look in flooring.



The furnishing choices in this domus are drawn from beach house memory. The Making-do, the Hand-me-down, the She'll-be-right, the What-more-would-you-want and the Plonk-yourself-there. I wouldn't have been surprised to see my Uncle Wal sitting at the kitchen table with a tall of Reschs Dinner Ale and a tinted beer flute. All proving there is no lasting place in a real home for the bleakest elements of modernism, nor a coruscating metro-sleek, except maybe for the cutlery and appliances.

So let this Breamlea house be a lesson to us all. A lesson in understanding. In how we can retain both our accumulated elements of culture and the essential ideas of building shelter and providing habitat. Not that there's no room for another good idea. If it's teasing possibilities you require, then drop in at Timberzoo to inspect our living displays and our flooring showroom. It may have you tearing up those formatted timber choice brochures that you thought would be helpful - and are really just haunting you.







Architect - Peter Vernon Architects, Ballarat   peterpva@bigpond.com
Builder - Lachstoc.  Lachlan Skinner, mobile 0418 588 600   lachstoc@gmail.com



Timberzoo's Blue Ridge Stringybark

130 x 19mm   NFG   Rate: $66.00/m2

End-matched boards with natural feature wisps of black feather and pencil-streak.

Always in stock because it has such warm 'Aussie' appeal.

A deeper toned brown than new Tasmanian Oak because the species mix is from foothill forests of South East Australia.

Brown Barrel, Messmate, Silvertop Ash - species also found in the Surfcoast and Colac-Otway Shires.

 Aww gee - it's one of ours.


Timberzoo's Wharfdeck

Rate: $13.90/m

Blackbutt timbers 135 x 32mm kiln-dried and profiled with a pencil-round edge.

Available in long set-length boards 3.0m to 4.2m on request.

Download the Wharfdeck Information Sheet from the Timberzoo website.


KD Silvertop Ash

90 x 22mm   Rate: $5.50/m

The trim on Breamlea Beach House is actually a decking board and available in stock at Timberzoo on call.

It was perfect for a trim board being code-compliant for bushfire zones and having pencil-round profile only on the face edges.

A versatile milling - and a Class #2 Durability rating.


Recycled Ironbark

2400mm   Rate: $60.00ea

Class #1 timber 220 x 140mm in end-section which looks great in all kinds of landscaping applications and outdoor structures.  Especially totems or letterbox mounts. 

We re-grade them, pressure-wash them and stack them by the hundreds in the front display yard at Timberzoo.

Other varieties of post available too.

Request an illustrated stock list on the Timberzoo website.


latest stock at timberzoo

Recycled Hemlock

135 x 135mm   Rate: $60.00/m

All 3.0m lengths and good for furniture or exposed uprights, bench seating, shop fit outs - many uses.

A pale blond fir originally shipped from the northwest coast of North America in a trade that began more than a century ago
- and has lasted just as long


Recycled Jarrah Posts

180 x 180mm   Rate: $150.00/m

These are all 1.8m to 2.6m and have been reduced in price because they are shorter than 2.7m.

They have all been dressed and are of very good quality.

If you can use a pack, we are open to offers. But can be purchased individually.


Macrocarpa Cypress

200 x 200mm   Rate: $80.00/m

Milled from farm windbreak, this remains a renewable resource and has sufficient durability (Class #2) to be used for outdoor structures.

Good stocks in February.


Recycled Spotted Gum & Ironbark

150 x 150mm   Rate: $150.00/m

Rough-sawn timbers from old wharf, bridge and pole stock - but high durability allows them to be used for all outdoor applications - including in-ground.

Hundreds in stock.


Recycled Bridge Corbel

Core sections: Rate: $120.00/m

These Ironbark slabs are the core section of a corbel that once distributed the weight of longitudinal bridge girders.

Sections above and below were sawn and dressed for stair treads.

These will perform the same role at 110mm thick - but the long boltholes prevent further resawing.

Great if you love that rustic edge and the sheer mass of these brutes. I know I do.


Recycled Brushbox

280 x 70mm   Rate: $150.00/m


Recycled Jarrah

280 x 70mm   Rate: $140.00/m

Oversized wharf top-decking boards with regular 25mm bolthole penetrations.

Took a bit to dress these 5.9m lengths, but we did it with three men and a chiropractor - and they are for sale at present.

Maybe a couple of dozen in stock.


Furniture Makers Teaser - Recycled Stringybark With Fiddleback

150 x 35mm   Rate: $30.00/m

A regular ripple of fiddleback washboards down the length of these timbers.

Probably Yellow Stringybark or Silvertop Ash - it looks like both.

Peppering of black speck adds another desirability factor.

Not more than 30 boards - Get in quick!