I have lived in the city for the last six years but sometimes my senses are tripped by the smell of sheep on a livestock transport, or the sound of crows in a blue sky and I recall the fifty years I spent living in rural and outback Australia.
I still have a house in Merredin, the heart of the Wheatbelt, in Western Australia. It is a manifestation of the hope that one day I will return to live in the country.
I was told by a local history buff that the house was transported from the Eastern Goldfields early last century. It sits with dignity between its distinguished neighbours - the town hall, on one side and the court house on the other. A direct path through the roses and past the date palm leads across the wooden veranda to the front door. The door is decorated with panels of textured green glass- the light from which gives the wide passage a cool underwater feeling.
From here, fung shui principles are thrown to the wind, as the house was designed for the arrival of the summer cool change, the Esperance doctor, the air conditioner of a bygone age. The doctor could flow unimpeded from front door to back, cooling all in its path.
This house has a welcoming and generous feel, felt by all who visit. The ceilings are lofty and changing a light bulb is a serious business. No standing on a handy chair. A ladder must be employed. But it is the walls that make visitors gasp. Four of the main rooms are decorated with pressed tin, a fashion from the 1890’s, and each room has its own design and a contrasting roof. I often wonder about the woman who chose these designs. I know it was a woman as the most beautiful and feminine example is in the main bedroom ceiling. Wreathes of daisies are the last thing you see before you fall asleep.
On a recent trip to make repairs and in between tenants I was able to live in my beautiful house for a short while. I recall sitting on the back veranda trellised with grapes, a mug of strong tea cooling beside me, my thoughts absorbed into the silence of a country town at dusk.