Arm End House


Ok, rule number one; never knock on a retired rock and roll legend’s front door at 7am in the morning.

I made that mistake at Opossum Bay, just outside of Hobart while visiting this little jewel of a house called Arm End, which was built by Brian Ritchie, a founding member of the indie rock group the Violent Femmes.
Architect, Stuart Tanner, warned me; ‘Don’t ask him about the ‘Femmes’ he’s a bit over it’. I decided then and there to make it my mission to get this enigmatic owner to tell me everything about the heady days of the ‘Femmes’ and how he came to live in such a remote part of the world. I decided I’d do this, or get thrown out trying.

We did the interview about 9.30 am, by which time Brian and his beautiful wife, world-renowned entomologist Dr Varuni Kulasekera, had dressed and had tea.
I started by asking her how they met. When she said they met at a Violent Femmes concert Brian added…’in the usual way’. Brian started smiling, which was a good sign. I then asked why an international rock star chooses to pack up and leave the ‘Big Apple’ and move to Tassie. The first reason was Errol Flynn and a book he’d read about him. His reaction; ‘man wherever that guys from, I gotta check it out.’
The interview just got better and better.

By the end Brian offered to play some of the musical instruments he had lying around. He picked up an ancient flute, then a haunting drum and finally he got out the bass guitar he’s been using for years. The next thing I know he’s playing ‘Blister in the Sun’, one of my all time favourite songs, and I’m singing along with him in his living room, what a moment!

The architect, Stuart Tanner was as surprised as I was about the impromptu concert we were getting. Stuart and I then did our walk around this lovely little house, which has now become Brian’s Xanadu.

All in all it was one of the most extraordinary days I’ve ever had.

There's a great saying that ‘architecture is frozen music’ and this house summed that up perfectly. Great architecture, colourful characters and music that gave me goose bumps.

This is one of the most memorable sandcastle visits you will ever see.