Monday, June 28, 2010

Up north
When I was about ten years old I wrote a note and my mother drove me down to a stranger's house so I could put it in their letterbox. The note said something like, 'I love your house, if you ever want to sell it please ring me'.
I think I must have been born with a love of falling down old houses. I grew up in Rockhampton in the 1970s. Back then it was like living in a time capsule, everything moved very slowly.
Since the internet had not been invented, long distance phone calls were only for special occasions, airfares were dear as poison and the road to anywhere else was very long, like all country towns then, we were relatively isolated.
There was only two television stations, the ABC and RTQ7 which broadcast a lot of locally produced shows, and I mean locally produced in the Rockhampton tv studio. Both of them shut off late at night and began again in the morning with just the test pattern in between.
I lived in an area called The Range (short for Athelstane Range). It's an area where grand Queenslanders stand shoulder to shoulder, although we did not live in one ourselves.
When Rockhampton was settled it was apparently going to be the capital of Queensland, several stately homes and buildings were constructed before it was realised the river was too narrow to be a viable trading port (or something like that). 
There was also a lot of money in the town from the gold mine at Mount Morgan. This house below, called Kenmore, was built by one of the gold miners. It's now the main building of the Mater Hospital.
Grand old Queenslanders are common as mud, and very affordable. All of these below are on now for sale. They ranged from about 275k to 895k.

 This one above is just around the corner from where I grew up. The family who lived there then had two daughters who went on to dance with the Royal Ballet in London, one of them as the prima ballerina.
This house below used to be called St Albans. As the story goes, it's haunted. Catholics are unable to get up the front stairs on one day of the year? The main house is surrounded by about five cottages, and when I was growing up each cottage was a different type of shop; one had toys, another had kitchen equipment, another had children's clothes and dried flowers. Every weekend I would nag whomever I could find to drive me down there, sometimes I'd get lucky, sometimes not.

This house above is often photographed. It now operates as a b & b, but when I was growing up it was a family home. I went to a party there one night.
Rockhampton also has a whole street which is heritage listed. Quay Street runs along the river bank (below right), and is anchored by the Criterion Hotel (below left), just near the old bridge. In Rockhampton there are two bridges, referred to as the new and old bridge, even though the 'new' one must be nearly 30 years old now. It's a system that works very well actually, there's never any confusion.

Now the point to this brief tour of Rock-vegas? ......I don't know I can't remember actually. I may be just feeling a little nostalgic. 
Two books that we have found very good as references are The Australian House by Balwant Saini, which features many historic homes and buildings in Rockhampton.  We also have The Queensland House by Rod Fisher and Brian Crozier.
Getting back to the note in the letterbox, I have not given up hope of hearing from them one day. The number I wrote down is still my Dad's. If they call, I'm sure he'll let me know. I know it hasn't changed hands because it looks exactly the same, although it's peppermint green paint is now peeling off whereas once it was as neat as a pin. I've got time, it's only been 28 years, you can't expect everything to happen overnight.
Speaking of overnight, tomorrow the plumber and electrician will start to install all our pretty things; sinks, the stove, toilets, taps, the bath. In a few days time I should have some very exciting photos indeed!


  1. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story :)

  2. When I was a teenager ( late 60's) I heard someone on the radio say "Sydney is 5 years behind the United states, the rest of the country is 10 years but Rockhampton is 20" so you were quite right to feel time passing slowly.I'm sure it has caught up now !

  3. Thanks for that little history lesson, I really enjoyed it. My family are all from Rockhampton and moved to Melbourne in the late 60's before I was born. I remember going there for Christmas holidays to visit the relo's (many are still there..) I must show my mum your post and see if she recognises some of the homes and shops you mention. How exciting for you to finally get your lovely taps etc installed and I look forward to your photos... Have a great day!

  4. Yes we loved growing up in Rocky. If there wasn't a pub on the corner it was probably a fish and chip shop and there were many good ones and none better than Samos although some old timer would say the Melbourne fish bar had the best fish. Battered chips were all over but now only at Samos. It was hot and humid in summer and cold and dry in winter. The railway and the meatworks were great places to work. You could go out for the day with 20c and get enough chips and a bottle of soft drink shared among your mates and as long as you were home before dark, it was all ok. Great people...great friends and great Rocky and will go back there one day to live the quiet life again. And really don't care how far behind the rest of the world we are...