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What is dead may never die at home in Rosewood

Some people collect stamps, others might spend years finding coins.

Rosewood’s John Sbeghen couldn’t decide what to collect so he decided to collect everything.

There is a space on the end of the kitchen table between the Italian relics and a Rhino foot where an ashtray full of used rollies lightly smolder.

It’s a rather ordinary ashtray compared to the Rhino’s foot that has be fashioned into a humidor.

Unusual items fill every corner of the room and are piled onto every available surface.

There are also rows of once wild, now stuffed animals that could easily be at home in any of the most famous museums or galleries in Australia or abroad.

What is interesting is that the dining area in question is in the middle of a two-storey house at Rosewood. 

The 71-year-old sitting in the space at the table wouldn’t be out of place sitting around a billabong pouring a cup of tea from a billy.

John Sbeghen has a wiry long grey beard and a weathered face.

He greets with a warm smile and a firm handshake.

The cricket is playing on the TV and security cameras are recording, but that is the extent of the technology in the room.

John does not own a mobile phone or a computer.

Collecting is what makes him happy and he has been collecting things for as long as he can remember.

“I remember walking around behind my grandfather when I was probably four,” he said.

“The Royal George pub had burned and I walked behind him picking up nails and straightening them out and I kept them all.”

He shares another memory from later on when he was doing his house painter apprenticeship with the Public Works department.

He was working on one of Ipswich’s oldest buildings, the Old Court House in Ipswich.

“It was being renovated and there were all these handmade nails made by convicts laying on the ground,” he said.

“I collected them too.”

When moving from room to room in John’s house, hundreds of eyes follow.

Interestingly, John does not shoot and stuff animals himself but he enjoys having them fill his house just the same.

“It makes me sad that they are dead and they are not a living thing no more but it’s better than letting them go rotten. It’s gone forever then,” he said.

“I’d rather have them still be alive.”

He first became interested in taxidermy when he would accompany his grandfather shooting.

“My old grandfather loved shooting but he would only kill and bring home what we needed for tea that night,” John said.

“I liked the colours of the ducks and I found out taxidermy was a way of preserving things.

“I would rather have them on my wall then rotten in the ground.”

If you can think of it, then John probably has it mounted on a wall or piled on a desk top.

He has it all – butterflies, shells, bison, wolverine, zebra, buffalo, dear, snakes, crocodiles, monkeys, bush pigs, African porcupine, bears, to name a few.

John’s collection has been a lifetime in the making where he has bought a lot of items at various auctions and has driven all over the country to pick them up.

“I have run out of wall space to put it all,” he said.

“I just make do with what I have got and keep packing stuff on top of one another.

“Every piece has a story and it makes me happy.”

There are two pieces that stand out to John.

The pride and joy pieces are mounted on the kitchen door frame side by side – artwork made for him by his five-year-old granddaughters.

“These are special to me because they made them at kindy for me,” John said

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