In 1998, Irene Stone Pearce purchased a 50,000 gallon concrete tank on 450 square metres of land. The tank was built in 1944 as water storage for the old town of Tinkleton. It is10 metres (33′) across and almost 4m (12′) tall. When Irene first saw it, she climbed down the old rusty stairs, jumped in and had a swim in the beautiful, clean water. She had already decided to make it her home.
Irene and a few friends spent several days siphoning and bucketing the water from the bottom of the tank. Irene then hired an excavator to remove 20 truckloads of soil, as three quarters of the tank was buried underground.
The main tank became the kitchen, dining and family room. Three additional tanks (3,000 and 5,000 gallon) were purchased and lowered into position by cranes. They were transformed into a bathroom, laundry and a small room for Irene’s grandchildren. A concrete cutting contractor was hired to cut holes for the doors and windows.
Once the skeletal structure of Irene’s home was complete, she set up camp outside. She designed, landscaped and did all the physical work on the house and garden on a very low budget. In October 1998 Irene moved in, nine months after purchasing the property. She decided to call her home Tickle Tank because everyone is ‘tickled pink’ when they visit.
Recycled materials were salvaged from the site and used in the construction of the garden. Retaining walls became garden seats, excess water run-off became a creek and recycled timber was used to build little bridges over the creek. Irene sculpted a mermaid out of a stone wall and a dragon out of cement. Broken tiles were used to build a mosaic wall in the rose arbour.
Irene’s philosophy is that the garden is an integral part of the house, to be viewed from any part inside the house and also an extension of the house. Her garden features open-air rooms for relaxation, meditation, adventure for the children, eating or just being and enjoying life.
In winter, Irene and her family love to sit outdoors around a little pot-bellied stove. They build a fire, roast and eat marshmallows.
Tell us about your house
If you have a house, or know of anyone else who has a house that is as stunning and different as Irene’s, Don would love to hear from you. Write to Burke’s Backyard, PO Box 929, Willoughby 2068. You can also send an email by selecting ‘Contact Us’ on the Burke’s Backyard website, and then following the prompts.
Tickle Tank, at Mt. Barker in South Australia, will be open on September 25-26, 2004 with Australias Open Garden Scheme. Phone 1902 261 026 closer to the date, or visit the website: www.opengarden.org.au