Howie Johnstone’s new home arrives where his heart is in Yarloop

Howie Johnstone’s new home arrives where his heart is in Yarloop
Howie Johnstone’s new home arrives where his heart is in Yarloop
Howie Johnstone’s new home arrives where his heart is in Yarloop

LESS than a year ago Howie Johnstone fled Yarloop and grabbed one guitar; that is all he saved.

This week, after living in a caravan in Mandurah for nearly a year, a sort-of-new-home was delivered to his property.

“It was unbelievable to get it into Yarloop,” he said.

“Three years ago, I bought my house here.

“I’m 60 in February, as far as I was concerned I would be here until stumps.”

But when Johnstone returned to his home, it was nothing but twisted metal and ash.

He also had no insurance and a mortgage.

Johnstone, a gold record drummer for Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs, lost guitars, drum kits and keyboards.

This was a tough blow for a musician who still gigs.

Johnstone’s luck started to turn when Mandurah builder Phil Jenner figured instead of spending $15,000 to demolish a house, he’d spend that money to send it to Yarloop.

“I’ve got something now that I wouldn’t have thought was possible,” Johnstone said.

“I don’t want to say I’m proud of myself, because pride comes before a fall, but I’m looking at it and it’s my house, it’s fantastic.

“There’s a 3m veranda where I hope to be sitting, having a cup of tea and looking at the cows.”

Mandurah residents probably glimpsed the house on its 60km journey to Yarloop.

“It took $30,000 for the lift. I had mates say ‘I got stuck behind that for 50 minutes’,” Johnstone said.

He said benefactors paid and donated their time for the first part of the move.

“I think people are really into helping people, who are into helping themselves,” he said.

“It looks so good on the block, but it could potentially take the next few months to get it up to scratch.

“I’ve found myself realising I’m not 25 anymore.”

For that reason, Johnstone is looking for someone with building experience who would be keen to help him.

He said he could offer music lessons in exchange for the work.

“It’s a huge task,” he said.

“I’ve had to swallow my pride and say I want the help.

“At this stage in life I should be putting my feet up not doing this sort of thing.”

When Johnstone fled Yarloop, he thought he would be gone for 45 minutes and it would be over.

He did not expect to lose his home.

“What a time to be uninsured, but you learn don’t you,” he said.

It is not quite home yet, but Johnstone is confident with some hard work it will be.

He is also confident Yarloop will return to its former glory.

The WA Government recently completed its $45 million clean up of Yarloop following the fire that razed 181 buildings and killed two residents.

However, the primary school will not reopen next year as planned due to a lack of students.