Life in Ruins

Time Schedule

Mon 23:00 | Tues 10:00 | Wed 14:00 | Thurs 04:00 | Fri 18:00 | Sat 08:30 | Sun 07:00

Overview

Over two years, International Designer Sibella Court, follows the trials and tribulations of 7 groups of Australians committed to the daunting task of restoring heritage ruins into living homes. From Georgian mansions to colonial pug and pine huts, these Aussie battlers attempt to restore the buildings to their former glory.

Episode 1 – Keith Hall, 1885 (Beechworth North East Victoria)

4 years ago Canadian born Clay Carnegie bought a ruin, a future dream home for himself and his wife Narelle.

Built in 1885, the original owner of the house, John Morrison Williams, was a master stone mason from Aberdeen. He struck it rich in the Goldfields near Ballarat and built this six bedroom granite home for his family.

Currently it’s not much more than a pile of huge granite blocks. Clay, working on it entirely on his own manhandling the stone blocks, is planning to rebuild the original building, with a few modern day innovations. However as any change to the original structure has to be assessed by Heritage planners, things do not go smoothly – and there is a heritage imposed time commitment for completion or a $50,000 cost to renew the licence.

Episode 2 – Woodcot Park, 1855’s (Tarraville Victoria)

Restoration enthusiasts Jo and Marcus are trying to leave behind the ghosts of the Kinglake fires of 2009 by embarking on the restoration of a derelict house, Woodcot Park. Built of timber and clad in canvas, this building was designed to give the appearance of a worldlier house.

With their two young children in tow, Jo and Marcus plan to bring it back to life as a family home in the full glory of its1855’s style, including furniture and fittings.
They will use nothing modern or reproduction including making original 1850’s hand blocked wall paper.

But the family have bought more than just a house. As the history of the house and its original occupants unfolds, they discover that they have taken on another ghost, the original owner, James Stuart Nelson, former butler to a Scottish Laird.

Episode 3 – Harrington Street, 1840’s (Hobart, Tasmania)

Built around the1840’s as a shop front and residence, Harrington Street is one of the oldest timber buildings left in Hobart. In1997 despite being fire damaged and derelict, the Heritage Council of Tasmania listed the building as a rare example of a weatherboard commercial building in Hobart.

However, covered in graffiti, burnt and with a leaking roof, it’s an eyesore which many locals believe should be demolished.

We join Hadyn and Penny in their fight to save the building. They plan to recreate the shop and restore the living area above as their main residence. What we will witness is an incredible commitment to heritage and appreciation for detail as they balance what is left of the building with what they can source. But is this shop really capable of restoration? And will Penny ever get a proper kitchen?

Episode 4 – Gervasoni Homestead 1852 (Yandoit, Victoria)

Marnie and Dale dream of converting the beautiful “Gervasoni Homestead” into a unique family home. The original owner, Carlo Gervasoni came seeking gold in 1852 but instead started a dairy business selling milk, butter and other products to the gold miners. He built this complex of buildings from the local stone.

Over the two years of shooting Marnie and Dale’s plan is to restore first the black smithy, then ‘grannies’ cottage which they will progressively live in before they restore the two story stone house in the third year. With their new baby, Gilly, they initially move into a caravan on site. Winter is approaching.

Has the romance of these beautiful buildings gone to their heads, and do they have the skills and dedication to complete this restoration?

Episode 5 – Emmaville 1850’s (Orange, NSW)

Is this cottage “Emmaville” the long lost birth place of legendary bush poet and composer of “Waltzing Matilda”, Banjo Patterson? Whether it is or isn’t, this cottage is one of the oldest in the colony and the unique style of Architecture should be saved. Luckily, the locals have banded together under the leadership of Reg Kidd to save it from demolition and restore it to its original glory.

With the cottage precariously sited on the edge of footy oval and under threat from developers, the community must rally together and act quickly, lifting and transporting it to a new home, next to the city’s Botanic Garden. And the clock is already ticking as the restoration needs to be completed in time to celebrate Banjo’s 150th Birthday, only a year away.

Episode 6 – Keera Vale 1843 (Wollongong NSW)

Keera Vale is one of the oldest properties in the Wollongong area. Built in 1843 for Judge Therry, the building has been unloved and butchered by many succeeding owners. It’s requires major restoration.

But this hasn’t deterred Jen and Harold. These two fell in love with the ‘house on the hill’ and their impetuous move to buy it may indeed be a case of Love is Blind. The house, made of crumbling convict bricks, has many surprises in store.

Jen is passionate and dynamic, Harold is a born builder and nothing will stop them fulfilling their dream of restoring and living in Keera Vale with their family. With a big mortgage, Harold has taken long service leave to do most of the work himself. But living in this house with their 4 children, is going to put their passion and patience to the test.

Episode 7 – Holowiliena,1853 (Northern Flinders Ranges,SA)

Established in 1853 by the Warwicks, Holowiliena is the only remaining pastoral roperty in Australia held by the original family. Many of the original settlers’ buildings are also still standing, but they are in desperate need of restoration.

These days, Frances and her husband Luke assist her father, Richard Warwick, running the property. But with two families to feed, and a property on the edge of marginal land, they are looking for ways to make ends meet. Restoring the buildings built by their forebears could hold the key to protecting their unique history and also to securing the family’s long term future.

But without the finances or skills, Frances needs help and she finds it in a unique ‘Construction Industry Training Scheme’, run by English stone mason Keith McAllister.