Herb’s story

Resident: West Ulverstone, Tasmania

Herb is not sure how he ended up living in West Ulverstone on Tasmania’s scenic north coast but he is happy to have his feet under the table after a colourful life. He lives in a former Housing Tasmania property which Housing Choices Tasmania took management of in 2013. Herb signed on as an Housing Choices Tasmania tenant in early 2014 under the Better Housing Futures Program.

Herb grew up on the family dairy farm in Gippsland, and after a stint in the army, he worked for 20 years as an underground miner in Tasmania, which he loved for the mateship. He also grew to love the Tasmanian wilderness when he took a job clearing the track at Cradle Mountain. ”I love the mountains and the wilderness just fascinates me.”

A father of four, Herb stays in touch with his adult children that all live interstate. “When my son got cancer and then I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, I sort of changed my whole view of everything. I keep pretty much to myself and it’s nice and quiet here.”

As part of Herb’s new lease agreement, Housing Choices has upgraded the older timber home with carpets for the first time and has fixed the leaks and drafts. “It’s a hell of a lot warmer now in here and it’s just more cosy”, he said.

A secure weatherproof, home has enabled Herb to pursue his love of landscape painting, working from memory in the comfort of his living room. He was a proud finalist in Tasmania’s 2015 Muralfest mural competition, which attracts artists from interstate and overseas.

Herb maintains a vegetable garden, keeps chooks and visits the local neighbourhood centre for its monthly meetings. He is exploring the idea of teaching young unemployed people to paint. “I’m more aware of other people’s troubles now. You might think that you’ve got problems but there’s a lot of other people worse off.”

Watch the video of The artist: Herb’s story

Videos & photography: Lani Holmberg Photography
Story-telling project & interviews: Just Anna