Tinkering away with bits of tin and tar under the hot outback sun, Stephen Peacock reckons he’s struck gold as far as builder’s work goes.

“I’ve worked with a lot of builders in my time and they would call this crap work,” he said.

“They like the modern stuff, but for me every day is enjoyable. I don’t get sick of it. It’s my passion.”

For the past year, he has been working on the historic cottages at Gwalia in the Goldfields, 800km north-east of Perth, making them watertight and ensuring they are structurally sound so they can be opened to the public.

So far, the Shire of Leonora has invested $1 million into conserving the cottages.

They were once part of an old miners’ camp built at the turn of the last century around the Sons of Gwalia gold mine, which shut down in December 1963.

With names such as Burglar Bill’s Camp and the Sly Grog Shop, the cottages have a colourful history.

The 62-year-old builder left his job working on historic buildings in Sydney with his wife with the plan of travelling around Australia.

Keen prospectors, they arrived in the Goldfields looking for gold.

However, a chance encounter with a fellow builder led to him working on conserving two of the cottages, the Pink House and De Rubies Camp.

Thirty of the buildings from the old camp still stand, with the majority of them either open or in the pipeline to be reopened to the public.

Full story in The Weekend West Agenda.

The West Australian

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