Yarra Ranges Get Away – Boinga Bob’s Tree House Temple

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By Lorian Mackenzie

 

Located 73kms east, an hour’s drive from Melbourne, is the small town of Warburton. Nestled into the picturesque mountains of the Yarra Valley and situated on the beautiful Yarra River, Warburton attracts holiday makers and day trippers with its easy going, laid back atmosphere and breathtaking scenery.

There are many things to see and do in the local area, such as visiting the Little and Big Peninsula Tunnels, created during the gold rush, and enjoying the many walking tracks through stunning redwood forests and bushland. But in my opinion there is one thing that you must see if you visit Warburton; tucked away just above the town is Robert ‘Boinga Bob’ Prudhoe’s amazing tree house, although he likes to refer to it as his temple. He has taken inspiration from many different cultures and the beautiful designs found within nature and made his own designs by combining elements from all the places that he has travelled to and explored.

Much of the structure is designed and built based on the fractal geometry you can see when you look at a tree, and reminds you strongly of the knots in tree trunks mixed with the criss-crossing branches, which he calls a ‘tree line’ design. It’s a pattern Bob sees all through nature, which is a part of what he calls ‘fractology’, which he relates to the Mandelbrot set; a mathematical equation that when applied and studied results in attractive reoccurring geometric patterns.

The amazing structure that you can see now has been built over and around the original building; an old train station master’s house that was at one point a hostel. This amazing home has been evolving and growing, just like the tree’s that Bob draws his inspiration from, and while the current structure is far more pleasing to look at it seems to have lost some of the practicalities of the original building. When I asked him about this he said: “To me the aesthetics is a very important part, it is part of an artistic journey, but I also try and be practical as well because of my engineering background,” he continued, “I haven’t done it so much in my own home”.

The superbly hand crafted designs don’t stop at the exterior of the house; they continue to flow into the welcoming, comfortable interior. Everywhere you turn there are knick-knacks, various religious idols, and paintings (Bob’s own), even the TV has an ornate hand carved casing. When I asked where he got his inspiration for the interior designs and artworks he replied: “I’ve done a heck of a lot of travelling in my life, I’ve been to the Himalayas, thumbed all over Tibet and climbed parts of Everest, and I’ve always loved Tibetan architecture, you pick up little bits and pieces from different places and I sort of put my own design together [from those],” he continued on to say, “I always tend to live in unusual homes; I used to live in a house across the road which burnt down in 1992”. He found a couple of photos of the first house that was built about 15 metres up the hill from his current home, the building was a lot more structured, square and traditional, than the wooden temple we were sitting in, although the seeds of what was to come were there; indigenous designs, temple like wooden turrets – features prominent in his current home. When I asked if he was deterred after his first home burnt down, he answered philosophically saying: “Everything is coming and going in life, sometimes you got to let things go to make room for something else”.

Boinga Bob’s home is certainly inspired by something deeper, and as I talked to him I realised just how much of a physical embodiment of his own beliefs the building is. So, in conclusion, no matter what it is that has brought you to the beautiful, humble town of Warburton, visiting Boinga Bob and his magnificent home, in my opinion, is a must do!

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