The day the Pantechnicon drove into the circular driveway at “The Waterhole” was bleak with heavy rain and grey skies . The tiny house was packed to its brown coved ceilings with furniture so my parents decided we would eat out. The nearest eating place was Bimbos, a truckie’s rest and food stop. My father said if truckies ate there it must be good.
We settled into our new home. My parents had the one bedroom and I was in the enclosed verandah at the front. The previous owners had planted avenues of trees. Crab apples lined the driveway, orchards of plum grew beside the house and apple, pear, peach and cherryplum trees were spread around the property. A grove of Scots pines grew to the south of the house and cypress pines to the west. Unfortunately the former gardener was now in the Kenmore Mental Asylum as we had bought our property from the “Master of Lunacy” whose job was to “undertake the general care, protection and management … of estates of all insane persons and patients in New South Wales” (The Lunacy Act of 1878 ).
The previous owner had left his legacy. Every wall and ceiling in the living area sported axe marks. My mother was so happy to have her own home at last that these small inconveniences didn’t worry her. However my grandmother (Kay) suggested that brown paper and flour paste would at least cover the unsightly holes.
She arrived on a Sunday as she always did in her little green and black Renault Dauphine. The glue was mixed on the stove and the brown paper squares applied to the walls and ceiling. It was with great satisfaction that they sat down to a cup of tea in the late afternoon.
It wasn’t long before holes started appearing in the patches. Little footprints were dotted across the still wet paper. The rats had discovered the flour paste and were devouring it with great gusto. It was back to square one and the next problem was to get rid of the rats.
The incidence of mental instability in our small village of 100 people was disproportionately high. I suppose the availability of cheap housing and relative isolation made it attractive to people with problems of various sorts.