Champion rower and double Olympic gold medallist Eric Murray has enjoyed a slower pace of life with his family since retiring from competitive rowing in April, but there’s more change ahead.
Murray, his wife Jackie and five-year-old son Zac, have their hearts set on a lifestyle block, so they have listed their “dream home” in sought-after St Kilda Estate in Cambridge.
“We have been looking for a lifestyle block where we can keep Jackie’s horse,” Eric says. “Jackie has always ridden, and show jumping is her hobby and great love – I think I come in about fourth in the list, after Zac, the horse and the house.
“We also think the move will be good for Zac, who is on the autism spectrum. He loves being outside, climbing trees and being around animals. We think it will help him to flourish.”
CAMBRIDGE REAL ESTATE
But Eric says the family will be sad to leave their house, which featured in “The Murray Project”, a Mitre 10 television series about the build.
“Everything about this house was designed exactly the way we wanted it. It was our first build, and it was pretty massive – we put our necks on the line, but it paid off. We got an amazing house in an amazing subdivision.
“Ideally, we would love to put this house on five to ten acres of land, but you would need a couple of million dollars to do that, which is way outside our budget. I chose the wrong sport to make that sort of money.”
CAMBRIDGE REAL ESTATE
The 286 square-metre, four-bedroom home was designed by award-winning local firm LAD Architecture and built by Grayling Builders. In customising the house, the design team made allowances for Murray’s height – he is 6ft 5in (1.98m) – which means the ceilings and door frames are extra high, adding to the sense of space and light.
And given that the build was a chance for sponsors to show their best, all the windows and joinery are commercial grade, thermally insulated and double glazed.
Key features include a solid stone kitchen island benchtop with waterfall sides, a large scullery with a sink and additional dishwasher, and niche shelving, which is the perfect place to display those Halberg awards and gold medals.
The Murrays say they especially like the tranquil outlook – their home borders the landscaped St Kilda wetlands. “The wetlands are like an extension of our backyard,” says Eric. “We walk, scoot and run around them daily. We can also stroll to the new café and bistro, which is only a couple of hundred metres along the track.”
Viewers are warned, however, that Christmas comes early in the Murray household.
“Come mid November I can’t wait,” says Eric. “The decorations start coming out and the tree goes up. I love Christmas I love how positive it is and it puts everyone in such a great mood.”
“Eric’s like a big kid,” says Jackie. “The latest addition is a train that runs around the tree, Eric and Zac have been entertained for hours.”
And what about that rowing? Eric says he hasn’t been back on the lake since his retirement from racing in the coxless pairs (he and Hamish Bond won 69 races on the trot). “When I first started rowing I loved the silence of the lake when it was completely flat like glass, but serious training meant I lost that pure enjoyment of being out on the lake.
“I had been training for nearly 20 years and it was time for a break. When you are an athlete there is no such thing as a weekend off or a public holiday. You have to be completely focused on that goal. People are backing you, and you feel you have the country on your shoulders, so you have to perform. I was perpetually tired, and I lost the pleasure of it. Now I can do the family thing and drop off and pick Zac up from school, and I’m loving it.”
Eric has given up on boats, however. He is sales manager for Laszlo Boats. And he enjoys playing golf and keeping his fitness up.