Clive Rouse inside the house he designed and built in Calliope bushland.
Clive Rouse inside the house he designed and built in Calliope bushland. Ren Lanzon GLARENSCLIVEL

Couple builds a new life in city

WHEN Clive Rouse designed and built his house off Talaba Rd in Calliope it was the first time he turned his hand to the task.

But what's that to a person who had built a plane and later a boat from manuals?

"I can turn my hand to anything," he said, and when you see his handiwork you know it's no idle boast.

These days Clive is kept busy making devices to help his partner, Calliope artist Margaret Worthington, make models toward completion of a project as part of her studies for a Masters of Contemporary Art degree with the University of Tasmania.

The house is also a studio for Clive and Margaret, where grand ideas are born. Often their ideas take shape in a separate workshop on their property, which is also a Land for Wildlife refuge.

The council wondered about the roof of the house - the roofing material was twisted to follow a roofline of peaks and troughs designed by Clive to avoid showing a continuous face to the beating sun.

The couple came to Gladstone after a five year cruise from South Africa on board the ketch Clive built. The yacht was sold 25 years ago.

"I was contacted by the current owner who said he wanted to meet the man who made the boat that was still in as good condition as the day it was built," he said.

Clive was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and did his schooling there.

He completed an apprenticeship in engraving and plastic die-casting and got a job as a maintenance officer in a plastic-coated wire plant. But he was looking for other things to do, and one of them was to fly his own plane.

"I bought two planes, Fairchilds, made one out of them and got it certified," he said.

"I had never built a plane before - I did it out of books."

Clive flew the plane for a number of years but, when the pump failed, he brought it down in the African bush and left it there.

But if you can build a plane, you can build a boat.

Again he turned to books, this time to build the ketch. He was in a hurry and built it in two years.

"I worked by day and built the boat at night before snatching a few hours sleep."

He sought someone to travel the world with him. Margaret, who he knew previously, volunteered.

The yacht had no motor so it was sailing all the way.

During the course of the trip they stopped in Gladstone and, needing a job, he joined a local engineering shop.

Meanwhile Margaret was advancing her interests as an artist.

The couple decided to stay, which meant selling the boat and setting up a home and workshop.

What's so hard about designing and building a house anyway?

Clive could see no problem.

It's all in the manual. 


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