Gloria. What started as a dream between mates has become a reality, and with every weekend spent in the Otways, she continues evolving into one hell of a lifetime achievement. A carpenter’s dream, albeit a challenging one, the work that has gone into this bus-to-cabin conversion celebrates all that it is to be a tradie.
A shared desire to one day build a cabin in the forest is what led me and my and good mate Manu to explore empty blocks of land one afternoon after a day in surf last year. While yarning about the what-ifs, the dream was pretty rapidly realised when we found the perfect slice of land nestled in the Otway Ranges; a hectare of thriving farmland, complete with a 50-seater bus just waiting to be transformed. Along with my partner Skye and Manu’s partner Neri (Manu and Neri are the masterminds behind epic vintage-inspired brand, Ottway The Label), we were ready to take on this challenge and start building a dream.
The limitations of working off-the-grid and 50 kilometres from the closest hardware store pushed us to get creative, measure materials wisely and innovate at every step. My 12 years of carpentry and huge passion for the craft, coupled with Manu’s insatiable desire to learn and enthusiasm throughout each step, meant every second weekend down at Gloria was put to good use.
Entering the bus, the kitchen and dining area gives way to a sprawling loungeroom, centred around a fireplace. From the lower bedroom, a ladder leads up to another mezzanine bedroom complimented by a custom-made porthole window. Both bedrooms look out through a bespoke A-frame window.
The best thing about the Gloria build is that it isn’t about creating a rentable space or a money-making venture. It’s about the big picture and the coming together of likeminded people; a community of mates building the perfect weekend getaway and having a hell of a lot of fun in the meantime. We’re so grateful to the chippies, plumbers and electricians who put in a few hard days’ work, and to the completely inexperienced mates who turned up time and again to help out the best way they know how.
The vision is to create a paradise, to be enjoyed by our friends and family, and the local community. Think quiet beers around the fire, to potential music gigs celebrating rising artists. Gloria is a space to disconnect, get back to nature and let the good times roll.
Every Sunday arvo we leave behind our secluded paradise and drive back to Melbourne, exhausted, but with a big smile on our faces and a shared feeling of fulfilment.
In the next few months, we’ll have the plumbing and electricity done, and then we’ll really dig it in to get the standalone toilet and shower block done before summer arrives so we can enjoy our home away from home. Any creative tradies looking for a few honest days’ work down the surf coast of Victoria - you know where to reach me.