During the devastating 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, Gabbi’s home burned to the ground. It was one of 10 lost on her Paddy’s Flat, Northern NSW, multiple occupancy community that day.
The fires were so ferocious, with trees exploding and searing flames catapulting into the sky, that no one could do a thing except save their own lives and get out of the way.
‘Everything I had in the world was in that house,’ Gabbi said. ‘I was in shock for days.’
By chance, Gabbi learned about a program for bushfire victims funded by Healthy North Coast under the Australian Government’s ‘Supporting Communities in Bushfire Recovery’ initiative.
The Container of Dreams project offered those who had lost everything in the fires the chance to start recovering by attending a series of practical, hands-on, small group workshops to learn how to build a tiny home on wheels.
The dwellings sit on a large trailer and can be easily towed to a site. They include a kitchenette, a bathroom with a full-sized bath and toilet, plus lounge and dining zones, and a pull-down queen-sized wall bed for sleeping in comfort.
As Gabbi had lost her uninsured house, but still owned the land, it presented an ideal short-term solution for her.
‘I desperately needed a home to live in and if I could learn how to build one with my own hands using some basic skills and tools, that would be amazing,’ she said.
‘I’d never built anything before, but I was super excited by the idea. It was the first time I felt optimistic in months.’
Clare Urquhart is founder of Container of Dreams. Her vision is to help vulnerable and homeless people, including those who have lost their homes in bushfires and floods, to acquire a tiny home on wheels.
Her workshops provide them with the skills and knowledge they need and offer hands-on practical help from a team of volunteer tradespeople who work alongside them. Gabbi’s tiny home is nearing completion.
‘A house is a container of dreams. We all dream of having our own home. Sadly, this dream is getting further and further away for so many in our community,’ she said.
Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer, Julie Sturgess, said the 2019-2020 bushfires had a devastating impact on North Coast communities, with hundreds of local homes lost.
‘We were pleased to be able to offer funding to the Container of Dreams project. Awarded grants have supported 43 projects designed to help build social connection, mental wellbeing and resilience, and to support healing and recovery from the impact of the bushfires,’ she said.
‘Grant funding of up to $10,000 per project is being delivered through the North Coast PHN Program. We are currently assessing a final round of applications and those winners will be announced shortly.’
To find out more, or to donate to the project, visit Container of Dreams.
Pictured: Gabbi building a tiny home on wheels.