Northern exposure – Take a tour of dream eco home at Woodend

Having spent 30 years looking after a very old weatherboard house in Rosanna, Lindsay and Geoff Cumming knew exactly what they wanted in building their dream home in Woodend – an energy efficient design that would also allow them to “age in place”.
Four years ago the retired couple found an unusual axehead-shaped block and bought it the next morning.
Real estate agent Joan Gladman suggested the names of a few local architects and builders and the couple met with and hired Marcus Ward, an architect with a long interest and focus on sustainable design.
“We wanted a low-maintenance house and we bought the block because of its orientation to the north so we could have a north-facing house,” Lindsay said.
“We wanted it very well insulated, we have gone two storeys but we wanted to be able to age in place, so there are design features that allow us to live downstairs, with possibly a carer upstairs.
“We didn’t want something huge and ostentatious, we wanted a modest house, but very well built and all electric.”
Geoff said it had to be sustainable from an energy point of view, with photovoltaic panels on the roof, heat pump hot water, reverse-cycle air conditioning for heating and cooling, and excellent insulation.
“And the sun is everything!” he said.
Architect Marcus Ward said having clients who were dedicated to designing something environmentally progressive was an architect’s dream.
“It’s an unusual block because it’s an axehead and it presented several challenges, but we hammered the main principles, which were facing it north to the sun, and making sure there was ample winter sun penetration,” he said.
“The building has heavy insulation throughout and particular care was taken to ensure it was carefully installed.
“It does have some other bells and whistles with a good solar system both for hot water and electricity, and it seems to have lived up to all their expectations not only in terms of how lovely it is to live in but also how it performs.”
Seven rainwater tanks supply all house and garden needs and the garden boasts vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and bee-attracting flowering plants, all selected for local climate and zoned for efficient water use.
The home will be open to the public on Sunday for Sustainable House Day, supported by the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group.
Lindsay and Geoff will happily talk visitors through their home’s many features (too many to include here!).


Macedon Ranges Shire Council is hosting a bus tour from 9.30am-1pm that will leave from the car park next to the Woodend Community Centre.
Places are limited and the opportunity is available to Macedon Ranges residents only.
Lunch on the day will be provided by the Macedon Ranges Veg Eating Group.
To find out more or to book your place, visit
For more information about Sustainable House Day, visit


If you’d like to have lower power bills, greater comfort during extremes of weather and a healthier environment, you share that with an increasing number of Australians who look forward to Sustainable House Day.
This year SHD, as it’s known, is on Sunday September 15.
For almost 20 years, SHD has provided a great opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people to visit some of Australia’s leading green homes.
It gives visitors a chance to inspect first-hand, houses that have been designed, built or renovated with sustainability in mind as well as the opportunity to talk to owners and receive unbiased advice.
Last year, 33,000 people visited 226 homes across Australia. The number of visitors is growing each year as interest in sustainability and its connection with lower power bills and climate change become more front and centre in the public mind.
This year there are three houses open in Castlemaine and eight in and around the Macedon Ranges.
The three Castlemaine houses include The Paddock Eco Village, which will have its community centre open and another seven houses available for viewing from the outside, all built by local builder FNG Group; The Shansion, an innovative shed/mansion in Etty Street; and the Chewton Hemp House, made from hempcrete.
Six houses in and around Woodend include the Ultimate Dream House in Jeffreys Street; the Strawbale House in Anne Road; Lot 6 in Halpern Road; Inga Linga Strawbale House in Marsella Court; Jocks Gully in Jocks Gully Road; and Brick Veneer Retrofit in Three Chain Road Newham.
And there’s also Ram Rock in Benloch and Noonameena at Redesdale.
If you’re interested in participating in Sustainable House Day, you can find out more at

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