THE history of the Bass Coast includes a time when recreational fishermen, predominantly from the Wonthaggi Coal Mines, built illegal shacks right on the many surrounding beach foreshore areas.
Eddie Harmer had one of these shacks down on Wreck Bay about 7klm south/west of the coal town where he lived and worked.
Along this foreshore, now part of the Bunurong Coastal Park, a subdivision of some 60 blocks was created and named after Eddie, ‘Harmers Haven’.
Eddie’s new ‘shack’, positioned on what he considered the best block, was a hybrid of three rooms consisting a one room single 19th C cottage, an old site building and a connecting lean too along the back.
The house visual was held together with signature bright blue paint. Remnants of the colour can be seen speckled on the recycled concrete and brick paving at the front of the new house.
The house was offered for sale in 1994 after Eddie and then his wife both died.
At that time the ‘mod cons’ of the house included a solid fuel (wood) burning copper for clothes washing in the corner of the lean too, a flushing WC, a bath with a plank over it supporting a tiny electric water tank, a shower cubicle, a kitchen sink with a cold water tap, an ancient gas stove and nothing else. No benches, no cupboards, no basin, and no hot water (except by filling a bucket over the bath).
For their retirement years this had been the full-time residence of the Harmers – different times.
“For many years we used the shack like an indoor camping holiday,” says property owner Caroline Shaw.
“We created a fire pit in the front garden and every hot meal was a barbecue.
“They were fun times with toasted mashmallows and fireside stools.
“With no TV we played lots of games spent time walking on the beach, investigating the rock pools, finding the many walking paths that traverse the foreshore, playing in the sand dunes and generally creating a simple kind of fun.
“The front kitchen window had a nice view through the scrub to the ocean beyond and I just knew that something special awaited a renewal of the house and a second storey.”
Over the 2006/2007 years, the new house was designed and built.
“The old cottage had pine lining boards on the walls and ceiling and this was also an element I enjoyed as a child, so lining board was on my must have list.
“It was confined to select ceilings only; in the bedrooms downstairs so that family and guests could lie in bed and look up at it, and in the gable upstairs both inside and out.”
“The architect, Mark Krause, came up with the idea of the wedge-shaped house for the wedge shaped block.
“This creates the expansive front, and the steel frame allows for the wrap around continuous windows, which in turn allows for the wrap around 180-degree view.
“Having enjoyed the shack, which was named ‘Harmers Haven’ we wanted to keep some of the simplicities in place and not fully replicate our suburban Melbourne home.
“The wood burning fire was part of this de-automated life.
“After 10-plus years there is still that ‘ah’ moment when we arrive at the top of the stairs and see the ocean.
“Sometimes blue and still, often stormy, low tide, high tide, big seas, sand, wind, birds, the odd fishing vessel, ships passing on the horizon, starry nights, rainbows, huge sunset skys, the lighthouse light at Cape Liptrap in the far distance on a clear night.
“We sleep with the blinds open at night and enjoy the sky and stars.
“First light is beautiful as the sky brightens and the stars fade. You can see the water all the way down the beach to the rocks and sand when you wake up. It’s heaven.”
So, why are they selling?
“Just because you love something it doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.
“The world is a big place and we are off to explore elsewhere and do new things. I’ve been visiting Harmers for 36 years.
“Some of the homes are owned inter-generationally. I hope I don’t have seller remorse and that my kids forgive me.
“I hope the new owners love the house and locality as much as we have. It was built with forever in mind.”
For more information about this property, call Alex Scott Inverloch on 5674 1111.
Slice of paradise at Harmers Haven