Dan Rawlings

Part of the 'Harmonies of the Huon' Series

Dan Rawlings grew up in Frankston Victoria and played drums in various Melbourne bands. He later picked up a guitar and started an acoustic folk duo with his musical sister. As Turtle and Fox, they played together for five years.

‘Our father was a self-taught musician and our house was always full of music,’ Dan says.

He has many fond memories of visiting Tasmania.

‘My Dad and I came to the Next Door Bar in Franklin looking for a property and we soon picked up on the Huon vibe,’ he says. ‘He was a builder and he helped design my new house in the valley but sadly he recently passed away. Dad was a central figure in my life because he taught me to love music.’

Dan lived in London for a while, and it made him realise that he wanted to live in nature and holiday in cities.

So, in 2019, Dan, his partner Chloe and Paddy the dog went looking for a special bush block to build on. They found it high up on Heritage Lane overlooking Franklin. The block has glorious northern views over forests, the Huon River and the Franklin township.

‘We lived through one winter in a tent while we designed the house,’ Dan says. ‘Then we spent four years in a 3 x 6 metre shepherd’s caravan with an outside shower. It was a bit chilly in winter, but better than the tent!’

After 18 months of hard work, the owner-built property is now at lock-up stage.

‘It’s completely off-grid, so you have to be careful with power,’ Dan says. ‘We use a combination wood-fired heater and oven for warmth and cooking.’

The house is made with hempcrete, a traditional material that is coming back into fashion as builders look for more sustainable construction methods. The hemp stems are produced by the Tasmanian company X-Hemp. Applied in layers to a thickness of 300mm, the material is highly insulating and has a low carbon footprint. Hempcrete has a rammed earth look with no air gaps and is fireproof.

Later this year, Dan and Chloe’s new home will be featured on the popular TV show, Grand Designs. The program is interested in the environmentally friendly and sustainable character of the house.

‘The sunny aspect, open-plan design and the large decks make it the perfect place when friends come around for a jam session,’ Dan says. ‘Local cider, a crackling fire, fairy lights, half a dozen musical friends, tasty locally grown snacks, what could be better!’

Dan has just played at the Cygnet Folk Festival and at a forest blockade protest at Dover for the Bob Brown Foundation to protect the endangered swift parrot. He is excited to be working on a new album, collaborating with award-winning producer and musician Pete Cornelius and maverick Huon songwriter and producer Jethro Pickett, who has a recording studio in an old shed built out over the water.

‘Now that’s a unique creative environment,’ Dan says. ‘I really enjoy the process of working with a producer. They’ll make suggestions about different effects and add layers of other instruments.
Once it’s sent to me, I’ll sit with it for a while. Often, it’s quite different to what I expected.

It can be a humbling process – you have to let go of your babies a bit!’

Dan loves the developing musical culture of the Huon, where many local musicians end up playing together, willingly sharing their skill-sets.

‘There’s a ground swell of people moving to the valley, looking for a more sustainable and affordable way of living,’ Dan says. ‘And like us, many are naturally attracted to music and playing as a form of creativity, expression and entertainment.’

Harmonies of the Huon: Exploring the melodies and musings of Huon Valley artists‘ is a Creative Huon series in collaboration with Huon Valley Council and Huon Valley Tas, showcasing the Huon Valley’s musical talents, their inspiration and journeys.

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