This week is a walk through the original farm house which was made of mud and sandstone rocks with a corrugated iron roof. I lived in this house until I was 10 years old, however it was originally built in the 1890s when Connie Melon owned the property, then when great grandfather Cripps purchased the 40 acres of land by swapping a team of horses, extensions were added.
The house has had many families and I bet if it was still standing, those walls could tell us many stories.
We usually entered from the side door facing the north, near the garage. The house had a wire fence all around with a purple flowering creeper growing over it. There is an archway over the wrought iron gate and a path leading up to the step and front door. To the left, on the lawn, was a stone fish pond with a stone fountain in the middle. It was empty and full of wild grass. There is a large rainwater tank near the path and a step up onto the verandah. The front door is panelled wood; I think it is painted cream or a light yellow.
Inside was a large dining room and just to the right is a Singer treadle sewing machine. Once when we were playing around with it, Bobbo turned the wheel and the needle went down the side of my index finger. The nail on that finger is permanently split.
The first room on the right is the office. We weren’t allowed in here and if we went in while mum was on the phone we would get the short shift. However, when we did go in, I do remember there being a large wooden desk with a pencil sharpener attached to the side and a paperweight. Behind this desk was another desk with a roller door that would slide up. The telephone was sitting on this desk.
To the left was the bathroom. Inside was a large white bath. Bobbo and I usually bathed together then Peter, then Garry. Behind the door was a shoe stand near a window and in the corner was a chair. The bath was filled with hot water from a bucket, carried in from the copper out on the back verandah. The bathroom wall on one side did not go all the way up to the ceiling. If ever we were naughty, dad or mum used to lock us in the bathroom and my brothers would scamper up the wall and over the top to the pantry on the other side to escape out through the kitchen.
Next to the bathroom was the kitchen. Inside the door on the left were 2 blue vinyl covered chairs, and a kitchenette. I can see it has two glass doors, but not what is behind them or on it. There are another 4 chairs 2, next to the kitchenette and 2 on the other side near the window that looks out over the backyard and clothesline. The chairs were never around the table unless we were eating a meal and this table, had a grey laminated top. It was in the centre of the room. There is a wood stove; I can smell the scones cooking in the oven ready to take to the working men or the shearers. Next to the oven is a sink in the corner. I can’t quite see what is against the wall near the sink; it might have been a Coolgardie safe, or just a cupboard. Then there was a door leading out to the laundry, and in the corner is a kerosene fridge. Yum I can still taste the homemade ice cream and ice blocks. I’m sure there is another wooden table here where mum used to do the ironing. When I was about 3 years old, I fell off the kitchen table and nearly broke my arm up near my shoulder. It has always given me trouble over the years and seemed to be a funny shape. I was always complaining about it and that’s when mum told me what happened. When mum had finished cooking cakes we would sit under the table and lick the bowl and beaters or wooden spoon. I bet we’re not the only kids to have done that!
Back into the dining room was a large dining table. This room was huge. We would lie on our backs and skid around and around the table chasing each other. At Christmas time dad would get a pine tree from the paddock and bring in for us to decorate and for Father Christmas to put the presents under. These trees were huuuuge! Or so I thought.
On one side of the dining room, opposite to the entry is the boy’s bedroom; in here are 3 beds and a dresser and green candlewick bedspreads on the beds. Beside each bed are buckets that the boys would piddle in during the night, instead of going out to the toilet which was way up the back yard.
On the other side of the dining room is another door that would lead into a large lounge room. On the left is a fireplace. My late brother Bobbo and his wife Ursula have the wooden mantle piece that went over the fireplace. There is a hole in the ceiling, where supposedly Father Christmas fell through when he missed coming down the fireplace to give us our presents. A lounge chair is next to the fireplace then the doorway to Mum and Dad’s bedroom. We hardly ever went in here, except when I would wet the bed and would go to them in the night crying. Mum would take my pyjamas off and I would slip in between them to go back to sleep. On the far wall near there door was an old phone. I think we used it when I was really little, until another one was put in the office. The phone had a handle and you had to turn it to ring out. Our number was 51D, which was a long ring, about two turns of the handle and two shorts, a quick half turn.
There were large glass doors with panels leading out to the front verandah. These were hardly ever opened. In the next corner was another large lounge chair and the settee. On the right was the old piano. When we moved to the new house dad gave the piano to his brother, my Uncle Jim and Aunty Nell. I think their daughter Kerry now has it.
The next room was my bedroom with grey patterned lino of dolls, teddy bears and ABC blocks on it. My bed, with a soft mauve candlewick bedspread, was in the middle of the room with a dressing table in the corner. On it was a Christmas present, or so I thought, but it was a jug of barley water for me to drink when I was sick with the measles. Mum had covered the light with some newspaper to prevent blindness. There is also a bucket near my bed so I can go to the toilet during the night.
I have a glass panelled door leading out onto the front verandah and look out to the Morton Bay Fig Tree where we played a lot. The verandah went around 3 sides and had a wooden railing. We used to ride our bikes around and around it. When mum was washing it down, we would slide along on our bums for a slippery slide.
Out on the back verandah there was an old dresser with a gramophone on it that played 45 rpm records. I used to love playing “How Much is that Doggy in the Window”. You had to wind the gramophone up to keep it going round or it would sound really sloooow!
Out in the back yard was a line for the clothes that stretched across from the back fence to the garden fence. The loo (dunny) was up the back in the garden. Near here was also the chook yard and Dad’s fruit trees that his grandfather had grown.
Come back next week and I’ll tell you about the new house!