Featured, Tradie Profile

Here, there, everywhere: Coralie’s tradie adventure

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who embodies the tradie spirit quite like Coralie Stuart. She shared her story with The Tradie as she evolves from landscaping to building.

When Coralie’s primary school decided to build a peace garden, she was front and centre, shovel in hand.

The starry-eyed sixth grader had finished her schoolwork six weeks before the term had ended, so she decided to help design a proper blueprint for the project.

“It got built and it’s still there today,” she said.

“I ended up duxxing my primary school because of that. Technically, I had my first landscaping project done when I was 12.”

Images: supplied by Coralie

Coralie’s passion for creating things only grew from there, spending much of her high school years getting to grips with landscaping. However, when graduation came around, she was given some questionable career advice.

“I ended up going to uni and studying a double degree in marketing and communication design because my careers lady said there was ‘no money in landscaping’,” she said.

“I then eventually left uni after realising trades might have been a really good option all along.”

Images: supplied by Coralie

To the bay

“I started landscape construction and horticulture, then moved to Byron Bay because there’s a huge development boom up there and more extreme weather conditions,” Coralie added.

“When installing projects,  you’ve really got to stick to the guidelines because come wet season, it’s really got to hold up.

“You won’t see the consequences of choices in trees or doing a retaining wall wrong in Melbourne for a much longer period of time.”

Images: supplied by Coralie

Out on her own terms at Byron; Coralie developed a portfolio of landscaping projects, clients and staff in the hinterland. But eventually, Coralie found that ‘mo projects = mo problems’.

“I hit a ceiling where I was building bigger and bigger projects, and  I started getting projects what really tested my capacity,” she said.

“Things that involved more in-depth structural work like pools, cabanas, tiling and all the regulations around them.

“At that point I had to tap out because I wanted to produce quality and come from a space of integrity.”

So Coralie went somewhere that had a bigger creative building scene – Melbourne.

Images: supplied by Coralie

Best laid plans

Back and close to family in Melbourne, Coralie decided it was time to dig further into the building aspect of the trades.

She joined on with Melbourne-based building company SMD Projects, applying what she already knew while learning more on the job as well as getting to grips with getting her builder’s license.

“I feel like I’ve aged 10 years in the last month learning how to quote building plans,” she joked.

“It’s been really useful being a landscaper coming into the building space.

“In the Landscaping course, we are taught the basics of most trades as individual subjects. I feel like it’s given me the foundational skills to communicate well to a variety of the trades on-site compared to the carpentry course being mostly timber focussed.”

Images: supplied by Coralie

Having previously served as a member on the Australian Institute of Horticultures National Council, Coralie has become increasingly involved with tradie-based organisations.

This includes Carpentry Australia and Empowered Women in Trades (EWIT).

“Being involved in those three spaces really helped me with figuring out which TAFE I should be involved in, what course I should look for and what kind of job is appropriate to do on the side that will help with learning for the course,” she said.

“It’s such a different world to nine years ago, I was fumbling in the dark quite a lot because I didn’t know what resources were available, if there even were resources.”

Leading (helping) hand

Part of Coralie’s passion for trades was the capacity it gave her to give back to the wider community in a more meaningful way.

It started in Byron where Coralie used her tradie following to sponsor her women’s footy team to stay afloat during COVID. Then, in 2022, she co-ordinated with her tradie mates to use her following to raise money and help the flood-affected community in Lismore. Coralie continued to volunteer locally with the Byron Mobile Wild Life Hospital and the Byron Rangers.

Eventually, Coralie linked up with Habitat with Humanity to build a demountable home and memorial garden for a woman who lost her husband and home in the 2020 Blue Mountains bushfires.

This evolved into Coralie being asked to be a Habitat for Humanity ambassador to lead 16 other tradies to Cambodia to build a home for a family who didn’t have one, protecting them from the elements.

Image: supplied by Coralie Stuart

The project raised $28,500, with the tradie volunteers using locally sourced materials and building methods that made it easy for the local community to replicate the methods and build homes for themselves.

“It’s been a wild ride … it was something that was very special,” Coralie said.

“It was so heartwarming to see how much support came from the trades industry.”

More recently, Coralie helped Carpentry Australia during one of its Helping Hands renovations. The project involved volunteer tradies renovating the property of Noreen Elliot – a volunteer herself who’s dedicated her life to helping others.

Coralie helped tackle the garden with the sponsorship of her horticultural following.

“We created a native based plant out to soften up the state around the deck we installed,” Coralie added.

“It’s great to see how much we can achieve when different trades collaborate well together.”

Coralie is set on furthering her life as a tradie to have the skills to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living.

You can learn more about Coralie’s work @s.coralie.create.s on Instagram.

Send this to a friend