June 20, 2024 3:27 PM

Your house is never finished



When you drive through the main gates of Mark and Denise Ray’s family home in Muscle Creek, you’ll quite often hear some noise from the back shed.

For years, there was every chance Mark had already arrived home to work on his first hobby.

This is his love for restoring cars, having owned more than 50 minis since the age of 12.

His 1978 Leyland Mini, purchased from Ben Moore’s Autoland in 1980, remains his favourite and remains a talking point for guests.

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He also enjoys restoring old minis. This one, purchased in 1980, remains his favourite.

His second hobby, chainsaw art, came about on his 50th birthday in 2014 and after almost nine years his work has become well known across Australia.

First there were orders for his statues and creations from his Muscle Creek home to Melbourne and Gatton in Queensland.

The chainsaw art skills inherited from his father Stan and the knack for illustration from his grandmother Harriet then enabled him to continue demonstrations at various events.

So by the time the Muswellbrook Shire Council’s Sustainability Unit tasked him to produce items to enhance the shire’s parks with separate statues, you would have thought he had reached his limit?

Wrong. It turned out Mark’s chainsaw art had only just begun.

Since we last visited his property for our July 29 edition of The Hunter River Times, Mark has sold an impressive chair to a family in Darwin, a similar one with galas to a household in Scone and he then spent three months creating a piece of chainsaw art like no other before.

His motorcyclist.

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Mark transformed the remains from Singleton’s fallen jacaranda tree from the May storm to his latest chainsaw art last month.

“It took almost three months in to create him,” Mark explained.

“He’s made up in different parts from the forks, the tank, the upper body and the rear half.”

A thunderstorm saw parts of Singleton’s third largest jacaranda tree fall onto John Street on Monday, May 30.

Coincidently, his father’s truck and loader were available several days after when Mark was asked by Harley Scott if he wanted to salvage the wood.

It was meant to be.

“The reason I built it in the first place was Tamworth invited me to come up to the motorbike show and I said ‘I had nothing motorbike related’,” he recalled.

“After the phone call I thought I would go to that Jacaranda tree and I’d love to make a dude sitting on a bike so I thought ‘if I could come up with that then it would be bees knees’.

“One of the factors was I needed a tree with a fork in it so I could create handlebars and another key factor was I needed something with enough bulk to create a dude.”

Mark improvised the man’s right leg attached to the tank from his nine years of experience and endured the discovery of a pocket of water while the handlebar had to reach his hand.

“When I got that hand to engage that handle grip the rest was downhill sailing,” he added.

These two hobbies could not be achievable without a solid base.

Thankfully, their McDonald Jones’ Bronte acreage home built has ticked all of the boxes.

Construction on the five-bedroom house commenced in 2007 before the family moved in on September 8, 2008.

Prior to this they had enjoyed three residences including a home at McCullys Gup, an oasis Mark still misses to this day.

Thankfully, the 58-year-old still admits he is satisfied to call Muscle Creek home.

As per usual, we asked our reoccurring question.

If the walls of this home could speak, what would they say after 15 years?

“Love for our family,” Denise concluded.

“Nothing but love, having the boys grow up (here),” Mark added.

“Coming out here to more space I know that they loved it.”

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The family has a series of palm trees from neighbouring towns. This one is from Aberdeen.

The family highlight of the home took place on Saturday, October 29 when Mark and Denise hosted a 21st birthday for their twin boys Alex and Lachlan.

Mark, who is also a drummer, performed with his band.

There’s every chance he was scanning the backyard for his next project during the performance.