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  1. Guest

    Castle Rumble

    CASTLE RUMBLEBrian Rumble has at last finished his astonishing castle in the middle of the Queensland bush. He has spent eight years and the investment of his life’s savings to build Castle Rumble, a replica of the Middle Ages, with its Great Hall, 80 leadlight windows and a huge ring of 1,000 candles lowered by chain. The local Chamber of Commerce at Beenleigh, a few miles away, describes the four-storey folly as "breathtaking". As a 200-speaker sound system throws the massive choral performance of ‘The Mission’ around the battlements and into all 15 rooms, echoing around artefacts that go back to the 14th century, Brian admits that he has to face one last battle - the local council. The problem is that Brian - who cannot read or write - never filled out the necessary papers to be allowed to build Castle Rumble in bushland at Waterford. To be permitted to charge tourists $5 to roam through it - as he intended - his land should have been zoned as tourist facility before he began building. It was not. He can’t get an insurance company to insure it, because the hand-built, four-storey 15th century building is irreplaceable. Asked to insure it for public risk - says Beenleigh Chamber of Commerce President, Dennis Wey - the companies "just threw up their hands". Bearded, wild-haired Brian, 53, looks down at his gnarled fingers and says: ‘The castle is as true as I can get to the real thing. It covers 150 squares; one room is 270 square metres. Because I am dyslexic I have never been able to read books, so I create things from my mind. I can’t read what architects say on their plans so I draw my own. I am a carpenter, builder, welder, panel beater and jewellery maker. I am only happy when I am using my hands. When anybody else starts off to do something they pick up a book and use others’ ideas. I can’t do that, so I use my own ideas. The castle took me eight years to build and is my life’s work. Everything I have has gone into it.’ He lives alone in his castle and doesn’t mind the curious wandering through his bedroom. ‘I want them to enjoy it. I guess I’m just a show pony.’ Now, because of shortage of funds and Ross River Fever which has laid him low for the past six months, he doesn’t find it easy to make ends meet. Anxious to make the castle a feature of the Beenleigh tourist circuit, Chamber of Commerce President Wey, a real estate agent, has tried to help Brian combat the paper war raging over his unkempt head. ‘I can only call it mind-blowing. To be there when he lowers that huge iron ring on a chain and lights the candles is a huge experience. I have taken the Mayor and the councillors out there to see it; I have taken all the council executives and the town planner. The trouble is he built it without getting any of the necessary permissions. Because he can’t read or write he doesn’t believe in paper work. Councils are paper work fanatics and you don’t build anything until you’ve filled in the forms. ‘He has done nothing by the book and by rights they could have told him to pull the whole thing down and start again when he’d signed the forms. Nobody will insure it, let alone for public risk. From the slate on the roof to the hand-hewn banisters and hand-cut stones, the whole thing is Brian’s work. The 80 lead-glass windows are spectacular. ‘He has gathered 14th century artefacts and even made his own armoury that is authentic for the period. ‘Someone just has to persuade him to allow the council to go through the place and say : "this conforms, this doesn’t conform." But at the moment it’s stand-off.’ Back to Brian, who was himself born in a 12th century castle near Donnington, outside Wolverhampton: ‘People love being here. They sit down and gaze about in awe as I play "The Lion King" through my 200 speakers. They don’t want to leave. I’ve been offered $10,000 for one chair I carved. Who knows what the castle is worth; the insurance companies say it’s irreplaceable and don’t want to know. And the council won’t get off my ginger. ‘When I was at school I was a naughty boy; the dunce sitting at the back of the class. It just sort of got up my nose and I said to myself: "I’ll show them!" Brian helped renovate the elegant old Brisbane Grammar School and a famous pioneer cottage in Sydney. ‘I have been asked to build the Brisbane war memorial but my leg is a bit wobbly so I said no.’ While the paper war goes on, film makers and animators have been using Castle Rumble for television production. ‘The man who made ‘Babe’ took all his gear inside and he was awe-struck,’ says Dennis Wey. ‘Something has to be done so everyone can see it.’