Roll top bath

English: Dandenong Ranges from Beleura, oil on...

The first house I ever bought, I fell in  love  with. It was definitely emotional/romantic buy. It was an old cottage on a very steep block of land. The garden was enormous and also amazing. Belgrave Heights is located in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne. About 50 inches of rain a year ensures it is always lush and green. We had tree ferns, camellias, gardenia, maiden-hair fern, lots of bracken and also overgrown blackberries.

The bathroom was located under the house below one of the bedrooms. We had to go outside to use it. It had a beautiful old roll top bath (the house was about 70 years old). The toilet was also outside. We had to find our way down the slippery steps; sometimes in the dark.

We didn’t know that white ants were in residence. Some of important bits of wood-work were hollow and weak. The bathroom floor was made from wooden planks. One day I was enjoying my bath when all of a sudden there was a big THUD! It felt like an earthquake. It was a BATH quake :-). The weakened boards collapsed from under the bath and the bath and I landed on the ground beneath. I survived but the bath was never the same again.

Once I recovered from the shock, I couldn’t stop laughing! I tend to do that in a crisis. Every time I see an old roll top bath I am reminded of that day.

Until tomorrow





The tree-fern

“CHRISTMAS SPECIAL” – was the title in the real estate paper for the first house I ever bought. That was in December 1978. I found the original advertisement yesterday. I saved in a folder titled “1980’s memories”. I am glad I am a bit of a hoarder as I found some gems (smithereens :-)) that could be useful for future blogs 🙂

The ad went like this:


 BELGRAVE $2500 Deposit ($47 weekly) Lovely treed secluded block slopes to creek boundary. Small cottage, ideal for retired couple of young couple starting off – $22,950

Wow! If only it was that price today. It was a lovely little home on a very big block of land. The land was covered in lovely tree ferns and camellia trees, maiden hair ferns, azaleas and much more. Belgrave is in the Dandenong Ranges within commuting distance of Melbourne.

Although the price seems very low today, the interest rates at the time got up to 17.5% and we were on a very low wage. The house was over seventy years old with wood stove and open fireplace for heating. I had one child at the time and another born while we were living there. I fell in love with it at first sight. It even had a name – “Green Glades”.

During that period I took on a real homemaker and healthy food specialist role! It was a lovely home, apart from the possums who lived and fought each other in our roof. One day a possum scratched so hard on the interior wall, it actually poked its head into our lounge room. That was pushing  the friendship a bit too far!

In early 1980 the opportunity arose to go to the Northern Territory (Numbulwar) for a 12 month stint. We decided to rent out our little cottage during that time. We were only away a short time when we received an urgent message to call the real estate agent. It was bad news – there had been a fire. Some sparks from the open fire landed on the carpet and set it alight. It is amazing the house wasn’t burnt to a cinder.

We made the hard decision to put the house on the market. It sold very quickly and we were sad, yet relieved we didn’t have to worry about it anymore. The house is still there – I’m told it has been renovated in recent years. This house still appears in my dreams today – in varying states of repair. It has etched itself in my mind forever.

Some places are like that, aren’t they?

cheers for now


Licence to thrill

The paddlesteamer "Emmylou" passing ...

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I learnt how to drive when I was 21! I was very nervous being on the road. It  was a brave man who took me on as his student! I had a new baby and was housebound in a small community, without a driver’s licence, and didn’t know anyone within walking distance.

I was living in Moama in New South Wales. Moama is on the NSW side of the Murray River. In fact I walked to over the railway bridge to Echuca, Victoria to do my shopping once a week. It wasn’t all that far but I like the sound of it 🙂

The isolation was getting to me so I plucked up the courage to start the dreaded, driving lessons. My fear of driving made my instructor very nervous. With practise and many lessons later, he decided I could sit for my test. I had to have the test in NSW as that is where I lived. The test involved a police officer sitting beside me as I attempted various manoeuvres with the car. In reality, I did hardly more than drive around the block. I certainly didn’t argue with being given a license after handing over my payment for it.

Driving locally became second nature. I was still a bit nervous but I improved with practise. When we moved to the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne I faced a new challenge. It was really busy and very hilly. Those hill-top starts were the pits and I didn’t drive very much unless it was necessary.

A few years later we were in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, based in Fitzroy Crossing. By this time I hadn’t driven a car for a few years. I didn’t realise that I was expected to collect the mail each day for our employers. This may not sound like a big deal but the Post Office was a few kilometres from town; a dirt track that became a quagmire in the rainy season! I didn’t show my fear and did my duty! One day the road was flooded and I became bogged in the mud and someone had to tow me out of there.

They asked me to take on another task. This involved taking dead bodies to Derby to the mortuary as there wasn’t one in Fitzroy Crossing. There were lots of stories about former trips that frightened the daylights out of me. I said “No thanks” to that one.

After driving around town for a couple of years, I decided it was time to get a Western Australian licence. I lived not far from the police station and had driven past hundreds of times. They handed me a new WA licence in exchange for the fee. I was impressed at their efficiency 🙂

Since then I have driven on a regular basis. I had one car accident near Mt Magnet in WA and no-one was hurt. In one year in the Goldfields Esperance region of WA, I covered 30,000 kilometres over all sorts of terrain and loved the experience.

My confidence has improved with experience on the roads – thankfully – as I need to drive on a regular basis today.

thanks for coming along for the ride 😉



Melbourne Victoria Australia

Part of the city and river in Melbourne, Austr...

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At seventeen years old I left my small home town and moved to Melbourne to find work. This was in the early 1970’s. Work was hard to come by but I got a job in a big department store. The pay was very low and I moved into another job – this time at a lolly factory. I used to prepare the flavour bottles for 120 or so batches of Butter Menthol (cough lollies). That was incredibly boring but the pay was better than the department store.

I lived in Melbourne for a few years and met my husband in that time. I have lived in Western Australia since 1982 and have very rarely visited Melbourne in that time. I have done many trips east to visit my family in the country but Melbourne wasn’t on the itinerary due to lack of time most often.

I will visit Melbourne again soon. There are lots of places I would love to revisit and see if my memories show the reality. Some of the places I want to see are:

  • Flinders Street Railway Station with St Paul’s Cathedral diagonally opposite.
  • South Bank on the Yarra River. South Bank is a modern development that sits on the former site of the lolly factory that I worked at.
  • Puffing Billy Railway – Located in Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges outside of the city limits of Melbourne. We lived in the Dandenong Ranges at Belgrave Heights and another little place called Cockatoo. They have over 50 inches of rain a year and the forests are really beautiful.
  • I would also like to see the house where we lived in Belgrave Heights. It was 70 years old when we bought it and that was in 1980. It is just a little timber cottage on a big block of land with a natural stream running along the back.
  • I would love to get into the City of Melbourne at about 8am and have a great cup of coffee. Melbourne is renowned for its cafe culture. There are many people of Greek origin in Melbourne and they make the best coffee. I wonder if they will still have the miniature juke boxes at each of the seating booths. It was great to have your very own favourite song playing and sharing it with dozens of strangers (whether they like it or not) 🙂
  • A shopping outing would be welcome too. Melbourne is well-known as a great shopping precinct with lots of variety and great style.
  • A visit to East Melbourne would be on the agenda too. I lived for a while in Grey Street, East Melbourne in a very old terraced house. It was in fairly poor condition when I lived there but it is now recognised as a building of special importance and protected by the National Trust.

Well that is probably enough to do for a few days. I am looking forward to it!



The last time I was really scared…

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It was in the late 1970’s and I was living in Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. My husband at the time, was a keen fisherman and liked nothing better than getting up before dawn and going fishing. I hated being on my own in the dark so I used to dread the hour or two from when he left until the sun came up.

This particular morning I heard him leave and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I crept out to the back door just to make sure that it was securely locked. Adding to my anxiety, I discovered that it was a pretty dodgy lock and only needed to be wriggled a little and it would open. I decided to fortify the place by putting furniture against the door. I felt a little bit better and went back to bed.

Sleep still eluded me as the house rattled and shook with strange noises. The fear escalated as I imagined what might be going on outside my doors. It was a very old wooden house on a steep block of land.

I imagined someone outside my window and I was sure they were evil and out to get me! I was so convinced of my imminent death that I decided to call the police and report an attempted break in. The police arrived and I heard them checking around the outside of the property. Eventually they came and knocked on my door. I had to remove the barricade before I could speak to them.

They went to great lengths to assure me that there was no one about and that I was in no danger. I only felt slightly better after they left as I still felt the great lack of security and my exaggerated sense of vulnerability. Fortunately the sun came up, as it always does, and my fear subsided.

Next day I examined the property myself and was greatly embarrassed to find that if someone had wanted to get in my window they would have needed a fireman’s ladder to reach it as their was NO WAY anyone could climb up that steep wooden wall.

My biggest lesson from that experience was to recognise how fear can grow totally out of proportion and  take over completely and leave common sense and practicality way behind. I also learnt that it is good to have doors that actually DO lock – it makes me feel a lot safer.

I still have a chuckle when I see photos of that house and remember how my imagination really got the better of me that day.