Flatting: Living in the ‘70s

There is a house way down in New Orleans

They call the Rising Sun

And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy

And God I know I’m one.

House of the Rising Sun – The Animals 1964

February to November 1970

Towards the end of the year with Mrs Kruger, Margo asked Joanne what she thought about renting a flat.  They looked at a high rise block near the beach and imagined having a quick surf before lectures.  Another girl called Shauna was also interested.  She wore John Lennon glasses, was into Folk Music and protested against the Vietnam War.

At first Joanne’s mother opposed it.  She could see that without the watchful eye of Mrs Kruger the girls could easily be led astray but she relented as she realised she could do little to stop them.  All she could do was help them find a place to live.

The Real Estate Agent was doubtful. ‘There’s not much available.  Anywhere near the beach is out of the question.  However there is an old house in Atchison Street which might suit.  It’s only a short walk to the bus stop and not far from the shops in the CBD.  Also the rent is $66 a fortnight which is quite reasonable for a house in the city.’

The girls’ first flat

Margo and Shauna looked at the house with dismay.  It was what was known as a ‘Federation’ house, built in the early 1900s, timber clad, with a covered verandah around two sides.  Images of neat little apartments with sea views were cast aside and Shauna remembered her manners and thanked Joanne’s mother for the effort she had made.

At first Joanne and Margo shared the large front room with the bow window. Shauna had the other bedroom because growing up in a large family, she had never had a room to herself. Also at the front of the house was a small lounge room with an open fire-place and stained glass windows. Margo later used this as a bedroom. The kitchen at the rear was large and homely. A fuel stove promised warmth on cold nights and was kept running with wood off cuts ‘liberated’ from a nearby timber yard. The most interesting feature of the kitchen was a walk-in pantry lit by one small window. With their meagre allowances the girls were never able to fill the pantry shelves but it did add a certain grandeur to their new home. Out through the back door a covered area led to the bathroom and laundry. Over the free-standing bath, the shower only produced boiling hot or cold water, necessitating the use of the bath instead. In the same room a washing machine had lost its ability to spin. A manual wringer was attached to the cement sink. The girls thought it was fun to insert the washed clothes in between two rollers and turn the handle to squeeze out all the water.

Joanne missed the meals served each evening by Mrs Kruger. The girls decided to take turns preparing the evening meal but towards the end of each fortnight their money and enthusiasm had dwindled and they resorted to fish and chips or even just chips. Joanne brought cooked chickens and fruit cake down the mountain each Sunday night to supplement their food supplies but when Leo started calling around, he would often find Joanne hadn’t eaten and would take her to the Adriatic Coffee Lounge and watch her eat schnitzel.

At the end of the year the girls completed their two years of teacher training and returned to their homes, ending their lease. All that was left was to wait for notification of their teaching post, somewhere in New South Wales.  

15 thoughts on “Flatting: Living in the ‘70s

  1. Just for fun I looked up what $66 might be worth. Doesn’t sound much but actually …
    Current data is only available till 2020. In 2020, the relative price worth of $66.00 from 1971 is:
    $740.00 using the the Consumer Price Index
    $758.00 using the the GDP deflator
    Current data is only available till 2020. In 2020, the relative wage or income worth of $66.00 from 1971 is:
    $1,670.00 using the the nominal GDP per capita
    $1,240.00 using the Average Weekly Earnings
    $1,080.00 using the National Minimum (Award) Wage
    Current data is only available till 2020. In 2020, the relative output worth of $66.00 from 1971 is:
    $3,250.00 using the the nominal GDP

    No wonder the girls were struggling with the cost of living

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It may have been difficult trying to make ends meet but I’m sure they made beautiful memories. The house is stunning. I can image how it would look today after renovation

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many adventures! I lived at home during college and attended a university in the city. It was cheap, but I really wanted to get my own apartment. Sigh.

    I had to go look up what my $80 a month rent would be worth in today’s US dollars. $618.00 Stil would be a reasonable rent when they are now up in the thousands.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It was a cute house even without a sea view and the fireplace would have been welcome. Can’t say I’ve ever thought using a wringer was fun 😉 My mother would have had hysterics if I’d even thought of living independently so it’s probably lucky I could go to uni in my home town.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Poor students having to adjust their lofty expectations to their budgets. This house seems pretty good to me.
    When I moved out in second year uni, my dad paid my rent and lived in a two storey terrace house on Abercrombie Street, Chippendale in between Redfern Station and the back entrance to Sydney Uni. My friend had checked the place out, and it turned out it had no hot water. We had to boil the kettle to do the washing up and there was a water heater for the shower. Also an outdoor toilet. However, our place was right on the pedestrian crossing where all the students crossed and it was great for spotting friends and inviting them in. Had some huge parties there too.
    Those were the days…

    Liked by 1 person

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