Home Hill News

Historic mill house on the move

AN historic Queenslander, affectionately known as House 15, has been sold for relocation after more than 100 years at Wilmar Sugar’s Inkerman Mill estate.

The timber and corrugated iron house will be moved from the sprawling mill estate in Home Hill to a suburb in Townsville later this year. House 15 has accommodated dozens of mill employees and their families over the past century, but has not been used as a home for many years.

In the spirit of reusing and repurposing, it was decided that, rather than demolish the piece of rich sugar milling history, it, and three other vacant Queenslanders on the estate, would be offered for sale to the public.

Wilmar’s Technical Services Manager, Russell Kirk and his family were among the last to call House 15 home. After moving to the Burdekin, the Kirk family was in need of temporary accommodation while the house they owned in Ayr was undergoing renovations.

Mr Kirk said the mill house was not in good condition when he first visited it and he spent several weekends tidying it up before the family moved in.

“The old house had a few holes and some bouncing beams under the floor, but it was a large and surprisingly comfortable old house,” he said. “In that first couple of weeks, while getting the house cleaned up, I

had a little incident where I came face to face with a big black snake, which had been curled up on the windowsill right behind my neck.

“My wife makes no secret of the fact that she is petrified of snakes, so I wasn’t about to tell her there was one in the house she was about to move into. That would have to remain my little secret if we were to have somewhere to live.”

The renovations on the Kirk’s Ayr home took longer than expected, so the family ended up calling House 15 home for almost three years.

“Over the years, we have dropped in occasionally to take a look at the old place. It is sad to see it deteriorating, so it’s great to know it will get a new chance at life.”

Self-proclaimed “Queenslander Crusader”, Jo Veneman, from Townsville based Renewable Homes, was thrilled to strike a deal with Wilmar to secure the four houses for sale and removal.

“It was an effort to preserve history and save the houses from further deterioration,” Jo said.

“Removing and selling them saves Wilmar from demolition costs and will give the houses a renewed life.”

House 15 is expected to be removed in August, when it will be split into three sections to make the journey across the Burdekin Bridge.

It will then be transported to the Townsville suburb of Stuart, where it will be renovated and utilised as an extension to another Queenslander.