Recently one of our Conplant team members, Paul, went out to visit a valued client named Brian Perkins – owner of a business called Artistic Driveways – at his property in Jiggi, an hour’s drive inland from Byron Bay. Paul went to say hello, talk about equipment and stay for a cup of tea – but he got a bit more than that.
Brian’s property is the nicest bushland environment you could ever hope to find.
It’s green and lush, full of bush turkeys and plenty of other wildlife (including the occasional snake!). Some of his land is so wild and steep, he hasn’t walked on it for years.
The story of how he got there is pretty impressive as well.
Brian is 66 years old. He was born in the small town in Bonalbo, NSW. He’s one of six kids and was brought up living from the land. When he was 16, he moved to Mullumbimby to become an apprentice baker – a job he kept for 15 years.
After he had had enough of being a baker, Brian went to drive a road roller for a company in Mullumbimby – something he enjoyed a lot.
After a few years he purchased a vacant six-hectare block of land at Jiggi for only $17,000. He decided that’s where he’d build his dream home. When bought the block, Brian was a single parent. He and his son lived on the land in a caravan while he started building his dream home from scratch.
Brian’s still there now – although the digs are a little more comfortable!
Brian began collecting local rock, stones, recycled timber and steel. He even rolled large rocks from the top of the hill – part of his mission to never waste anything.
It’s a journey that has taken him thousands of hours, and a lot of years.
Jiggi is a very small town and only has a hall and school. He didn’t have any phone reception until about six months ago. There are no shops, not even a pub – so it’s just as well there was plenty to be getting on with around the house!
The whole project is completely DIY – and when you see it in person, you realise how impressive it really is. Brian’s water supply comes from a 60ft deep bore. He also has a large water tank that he built with stones and rocks by hand. Electricity comes from the grid, however Brian recently installed solar panels on his roof.
Brian’s also a green thumb and grows around three-quarters of his food himself. He even makes his own potting mix! Lettuce, limes, lemons, grapes, kiwifruit, lemonade, sweet potato, mango, starfruit, pineapples, mandarins, babaco, loquats, dragonfruit and more all grow abundantly on his property – not to mention a huge 8m high avocado tree (which Brian says is a product of his good potting mix).
He finds himself giving away a lot of fruit and veggies as he has too much and doesn’t want to waste any. Lucky neighbours!
Brian also has a love for art and sculptures, demonstrated by the many and unique pieces you see all around the property, all handmade from recycled bits and pieces.
It’s no wonder he doesn’t feel the need to go on holidays or travel. In fact, he’s never been overseas. As he says, “I live in the best motel in the world.”
But it’s not been all smooth sailing.
Fifteen or so years ago, Brian had a fire rip through his property.
It started in his shed. Brian reckons a mouse or rat ate through electrical wires. Luckily it didn’t get to his house – but he lost the shed, which held three beloved Holden utes along with a huge stockpile of recycled timber. The fire was so intense that it smouldered away for three days.
But it’s a testament to his hard-working attitude that he’s rebuilt, and you wouldn’t even tell today.
There’s an interesting ornament displayed at Brian’s front gate.
It’s the first roller he ever purchased around 25 years ago when he started his business, Artistic Driveways.
It’s a single cylinder engine machine and has seen some better days – but it served Brian well.
Next came a Mercury roller, then an Ammann AV12 roller, and most recent a new ARX23 which he purchased from Conplant in 2016. Brian still has all 4 machines and has never sold any of them.
“Ammann rollers are great and that’s why I bought another one – and the service from Conplant is great as well,” he says.
Brian doesn’t advertise. All his work is through word-of-mouth, when people talk about the quality of his work. He gets a steady stream of work, which he’s happy with. He could retire, but he doesn’t want to – he enjoys it too much!
Today, Brian continues working on his home at Jiggi.
He has four children in total – identical twin girls and two boys. His daughters live in Brisbane and his sons live in Lismore. He has seven grand-children.
Brian hasn’t finished all his projects yet and knows he never will – but maybe that’s not the point.
Good on you Brian, and thanks for the story. Keep on building!