David and Julie Hinds never set out to live in one of Australia’s most unique homes, but thanks to a rainy winter day they ended up bunkering down in an abandoned World War II ammunition bunker in the middle of the bush.
- The bunker was built during WWII to store ammunition
- They were decommissioned in 1956
- David and Julie Hinds have lived in one since the mid 1980s
“We had a grazing property nearby, and thought it’d be a nice addition to our property with 20 empty sheds,” David Hinds said.
It turns out that some of those ‘sheds’ were concrete-lined bunkers built into the side of a hill by the RAAF during WWII.
“Some of the neighbours used to store hay inside the bunkers, and the day we were inspecting the property it was cold and wet, and I looked inside the bunker and it was dry and warm.
“I think I must have said, ‘wouldn’t it be good to live in here’, and the rest is history.”
“It’s been a great adventure,” Julie Hinds said.
“And you can’t get very good mobile phone reception inside at all!”
Ten inches of concrete line the walls around their home, with a metre of earth on top.
“You get used to curved walls,” Mr Hinds explained.
“The radius is about 3 metres, and it’s 12 metres long. And that’s an efficient size for two people to rattle around in without bouncing off the walls.”
An ‘open-plan home’
They started by moving out the grain that had been left in the bunker and installing power and water, and then got to designing.
“We worked out where we would put the basic parts of the house — the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom — and away we went,” Mr Hinds said.
“I suppose you’d call it an open-plan home.”
Cupboards curve around the walls and help define different living spaces.
“It’s much smaller than our old farm house, but I’ve put managed to put a lot inside,” Ms Hinds said.
“I have a lot of paintings that I haven’t been able to hang. Hanging paintings on a curved concrete wall is not easy, and that’s why each end is crowded with paintings.
“It’s got wonderful insulation, and I have a garden on the roof,” Ms Hinds said.
She says she misses hearing rain on the roof, “which is a bit of a shame, but then again there’s no hail damage”.
“But you don’t want to bang your head on the wall, there is no give in it at all,” she adds.
There are no windows to clean, just a large glass door where heavy blast doors once stood.
“It’s quite low-maintenance,” Ms Hinds explained.
“It’s dark and quiet at night, and I can cope with that.”
“One thing we do in summer is put sprinklers on and water the roof to cool the concrete down. That works quite well.
“It can be 26 (degrees Celsius) inside when it’s 40 degrees outside in summer.”
RAAF Kowguran a ‘secret base’
The base was known as RAAF Kowguran, halfway between Brisbane and a US Air Force base in Charleville.
Both bases were not well-known to the public at the time.
“This was regarded as a secret base,” Mr Hinds said.
“The townspeople would not have known what exactly what was going on, although the servicemen probably talked about it, and word gets around a small town,” he laughed.
Over the years, they have had visits from people who served on the base during the war.
“They lived in wooden barracks which were cool in winter and warm in summer,” Mr Hinds explained.
“They complimented us saying ‘we should have thrown the bombs outside and lived inside the bunkers ourselves!'”
As the weather starts to turn, Mr Hinds says his underground home is a nice place to bunker down during summer.
“There’s no humidity at all inside,” he explained.
“All that concrete helps dry the towels at night, and I think it has given me a dry sense of humour as well.”
And if to prove his point, he continued: “I suppose, we’re already a metre underground, so when we’re finished we’ll just go a bit further down.”