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October 15, 2021

Captain Kelly’s Cottage is the story of restoring a historical home on the edge of the world. The house was finished in 2016 by John Wardle Architects for John and his wife Susan. Having bought Waterview without knowing its history, John and Susan quickly researched the landscape and its colonial settlement. After asking neighbours and previous owners, John found out that Captain Kelly was a first-generation European Australian with convict parents. Before John and Susan intervened, the cottage had weathered multiple additions and alterations and, along the way, lost a sense of its own history.

As one of two large structures perched along the edge of the vast maritime landscape, looking out over the ocean of Storm Bay, Captain Kelly’s Cottage is steeped in architectural history. Throughout the story of restoring a historical home on the edge of the world, John Wardle Architects achieved a contemporary reading of the existing structure whilst featuring important elements of its past.

For a small and condensed project, John found the restoration challenging – to give the interior design and the architecture a present-day reinterpretation, whilst staying true to its heritage and understanding the environmental impacts and climatic conditions of being on the edge of a cliff. John also took the time to understand the responsibility of owning the Tasmanian land. More recently, research into the pre-colonial history of the First Nation’s stewardship of the property is being undertaken, an important task John is intent on doing.

As the story of restoring a historical home on the edge of the world comes to a close, John views his interventions as a curatorial restoration. The home is primarily made from timber and brick, which has been locally sourced. Additionally, a lot of the interior design is fuelled by locally sourced elements – materials, furniture and pieces. Fabrics and objects within the interior have also been sourced by John and Susan from their international travels, evoking the essence of a maritime home on the edge of a cliff, looking out to the world beyond.

Stated to have been built by carpenters from Kelly’s ship, the architecture and interior design of the home today speaks to its original identity and tells the story of restoring a historical home on the edge of the world. Internally, a strip of paint has been removed to reveal the home’s original paint colours, exploring both the original and subsequent eras of the cottage’s existence at once.

Located on Bruny Island in Southern Tasmania, Captain Kelly’s Cottage by John Wardle Architects is a significant intersection of historical eras. The cottage is the story of restoring a historical home on the edge of the world: there is an appreciation felt throughout – of its past and a celebration for its future.

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Architecture by John Wardle Architects.
Photography by Rory Gardiner.
Filmed and Edited by Cheer Squad Film Co.
Production by The Local Project.

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