Kangaroo Valley Accommodation: Little Pig Creek romantic luxury cottage - House History.
The house at Little Pig Creek was the dream of Peter Dodkin, from Sydney. As a young man he had been brought to Kangaroo Valley by a friend and bought the land in the mid 70s as a deceased estate. He had seen another house built from ‘sleepers’ and set about designing his own home along these lines.
The timber was cut to his specifications by Martin, who at the time ran a saw mill at Jack’s Corner road, in the Valley. It is a mixture of local Grey Ironbark and other Eucalypts. It was seasoned for six years before building started in early 1985.
Peter was not a builder, in fact he was a federal police body guard, and was not sure how he was going to support the heavy upright posts. He had a slab poured and angle brackets made and the posts were secured with the brackets bolted to the slab.
Once the posts were up the sleepers all had to be rebated at each end and coach screwed to the posts. This was laborious and heavy work, lifting the sleepers into place to be screwed to the uprights. The gaps between the sleepers are filled with strips of bituminised sponge which is compressed by the sleeper above. This forms an airtight seal and, combined with the solid timber, provides good insulation qualities.
With the walls complete the roof framing had to go up. The dimensions of the ridge beams are massive and being Iron Bark, one of the densest timbers in the world, are very heavy. It is a testament to his amazing character that he raised these two beams entirely by himself using a block and tackle and off cuts of timber to gradually jack them up. Both the ceiling and roof are made of new metal sheeting and have a 4” insulated gap between them.
Most of the windows and doors are second hand. The front and back door were originally a pair of swing doors from Guyra cinema, on the New England Highway. The tall double bi-fold doors on the main bedroom are Australian Red Cedar and used to grace Her Majesty’s theatre in Brisbane.
The old floor boards are eucalypt, from a masonic hall in Picton, NSW. They were bought to be used as ceiling lining but ended up being laid on batons, above the slab, as flooring.
The house is decorated with bits and pieces collected from around Australia and overseas. Many of the rugs and other things were lugged back in the bottom of a backpack from trips to India, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, Morocco, France, Portugal and a few other places as well. I love textiles especially, having been in the fashion industry for many years.
And the name? A friend of Peter’s returned from a trip across the Nullabour Plain with a road sign he had souvenired from a dry creek bed. He presented it to Peter who decided that the unnamed creek at the property should have one, so ‘Little Pig Creek’ got it’s name.
In late 1991, after living with the disease for six years, Peter died of cancer. He was 44. I had been helping with the building since the beginning and promised him I would finish the house and, with the help of a local builder, moved in in June ’92. The house has been worked on ever since, doing bits here and there, including the fine addition of the french doors and deck, which were not in the original design.
My new partner and I enjoyed several years at Little Pig Creek together before moving to a house we had built, 10 minutes drive up the mountain. Seems this building is in the blood! That is how Little Pig Creek became available to start it’s new life as a guest house in late 2001.
Peter loved people and had many friends and I feel confident that he would have been happy to know that his creation is being enjoyed by so many people.
It is not surprising that Peter’s dream lives on to charm visitors who almost always remark “what a great feeling this place has”.