‘It makes people happy that we’ve preserved something’

Letting go of 9 Laurel Avenue was proving difficult for Sabina Rui and husband John.


“There’s an old well [on the property] that’s heritage listed, he’d always joke that he was going to be buried in the well,” Ms Rui said.

Their son had already moved to Melbourne for university and when their daughter finished with grade 12 she’d be headed down too. But that wasn’t always the plan. The Ruis made the old brick cottage into their dream home.

“We hadn’t built it with other people in mind, or selling it in mind, she said. “It was built for us and how we live.”

Despite growing up in Enoggera, Ms Rui never knew the house existed. Discovering the home’s story and that of its builder, Timothy Corbett, led the family to become passionate about protecting heritage properties. “We had to,” Ms Rui said.

“There was a lot of termite damage and there was a late ’60s or ’70s extension that had to be ripped down with asbestos and all that, bricks were falling out … the fact that it’s still standing is the significant part.

“It’s this colonial structure that’s brick and survived.”

The renovations seemed like a daunting task to begin with but once it was all said and done, Ms Rui said she looked back on the work fondly. Related: Tudor inspired Hove’s ‘regretful’ saleRelated: Experts reveal heritage renovation horror storiesRelated: Brisbane suburbs nearing the end of their life cycle

“I found that the process in the end wasn’t that difficult and you can make a heritage place quite liveable and low-maintenance and still preserve something that’s really special.”

The final product kept the little farmhouse as close to original as possible, and after walking past the historic bedrooms, sitting room, and study, the home expands into a spacious and modern home, with high ceilings and plenty of amenity. The home also sits on three titles, which takes up more than 1500 square metres.

Harcourts Solutions’ Carmen Briggs is marketing the property, she said the features all amounted to an attractive buy. “To have a property that spans three blocks so close to town is very very rare and to be flat, usable land for families is really special,” she said. “The street appeal is very grand, it doesn’t have that contemporary feel from the street.”

The home was built in the 1860s as a farmhouse on land that held vineyards and orchards, and some of the land was later donated to create schools.

Killarney is considered significant because it’s an example of early brick architecture in Brisbane.

Ms Rui said she and her husband had been thanked by neighbours and community members for the efforts to preserve the old house.

“It makes people happy that we’ve preserved something for the community, and that makes you feel good as well.”

“I’m sure that once they do the open houses here that a lot of the community will want to come in and look.”

Killarney will hit the market next week.

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