Freeman Family Find the Perfect First Home


Thirty-three years ago, Tony and Ardell Freeman bought their first house in Birralee Street, Muswellbrook for $60,000 when interest rates were at 17.5 per cent.

Within eight and a half years, they paid off the house and it became the first home they’d owned, having previously only been able to rent or live in housing commission.

By this point in their lives, Ardell and Tony only had their youngest daughter living at home, making the two-bedroom house built in 1942 perfect for the young family.

“As soon as I walked through the door of this place, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” Ardell recalled.

Both Ardell and Tony moved to Muswellbrook from the Lower Hunter when they were young, Ardell moving at age eight from Newcastle and Tony from Maitland.

Ardell standing outside Tony’s garden holding onto her artworks.

The pair met at a dance 61 years ago while Ardell was working as a nurse and Tony as a painter and they have been married for 58 years.

Since moving into the house in 1990, the home has undergone some renovations including one to the kitchen and two renovations of their bathroom.

With Tony’s experience as a painter, mechanic, panel beater and miner however, not all additions to the house have required external help, with Tony becoming quite capable at turning his hand at the odd job around the home, particularly at repurposing old furniture given to the couple.

Their dining table, for example, was given to them by one of their daughters.

Despite Ardell’s instance to tie the table down to the trailer, the tabletop was lost to the highway on the drive home.

However, taking the legs of that table and modifying a slab he had been given to fit, Tony was able to make another table for the couple.

Ardell and Tony on their wedding day in 1965.

Tony’s handiness has also been useful in the home’s garden, where his most notable produce is his chokos.

Ardell in her own right is a talented crafter, having skills in crocheting, parchment and painting, even running the Pavilion at the Upper Hunter Show from 1988 to 2016 and previously owning a teaching studio for arts and crafts with a shop selling consignment goods from local crafts people.

She has even previously used the home’s front verandah space to host weekly children’s craft classes and art classes.

When asked why they have stayed in Muswellbrook all these years, Ardell and Tony described the town as ‘something that grows on you’ and it’s unlikely that the pair will move from their first house,

“I’ll probably be leaving this house in a box,” Ardell said.