Ballarat at Home: Boarding house a renovator's dream

RAY Dymock had renovated many properties with his wife Joanne in Perth, but the couple dreamed of restoring a heritage building like the one at the corner of Eyre and Dawson streets.

“We had friends in Ballarat who told us about this property, so we decided to come over and have a look, but I thought that we couldn’t afford that,” Mr Dymock said.

“We flew down on the Friday and ended up making an offer before we left on the Tuesday.

“When we got off the plane arriving home in Perth, I had a message to say it had been accepted.”

The couple packed their ute with tools, clothes and a coffee machine and travelled to Ballarat.

Mr Dymock said he and Joanne had spent countless hours trying to recover the history of the grand building on the corner, but with little luck.

“We think it was built in the mid-1880s, but we can’t find much about it, so that’s going from the architecture,” he said.

“Originally it was known as Wandella Mansion.”

The building had been a boarding house as well as a home to large families.

“The kitchen is still licensed as a commercial kitchen,” he said.

“When we bought it, it still had an accommodation sign out the front and people kept knocking on the door, so we had to take it down.

“We didn’t do anything to the kitchen because whoever buys the property will want to do something different than what we do to it.”

But currently, it’s just Mr and Mrs Dymock and their son who live in the 23-bedroom, six-bathroom property.

“We tend to only use the bottom floor and a couple of the rooms now, the other doors just get closed so it doesn’t feel too big or lonely.

“Downstairs has just become home.”

He said the property had been extensively altered, with only a few parts of the original building remaining.

“There was very little of its original state still here, most of that was lost in the 1930s when it was turned into the Eyre flats,” he said.

“It’s still got the original cornices in the entrance which we’ve tried to make into a bit of a feature.”

Mr Dymock said he thought the building may be the third tallest in Ballarat, excluding the church spires.

“There’s the town hall, the Base (hospital) and then here,” he said.

“I’ve learnt a lot about myself doing this property, like I don’t like working at heights.”

Mr Dymock said his family’s original intention was to stay for two years.

“Five years later, here we still are,” he said. “It’s because we love it so much and we’ve enjoyed doing it and we’ve got it to such a good standard.

“It’s been a working holiday. It’s time to move on now. I have no intention of running it as a boarding house.

“I’d like to buy another old home. I’d be happy to trade down and get something like a little three-bedroom miner’s cottage.”

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