Tallow Wood, Corryong, Upland, Dixon, Alpha, Lindon, Colton, Manningham, Lygon. One-story brick, Queenslanders on stilts, art deco units, and a narrow terrace house. The first I can’t remember, not even in some hazy early memory. The next is the childhood home that I can still return to, post-heartbreak or for recovery from wisdom teeth surgery. There was the house I tried to make a home with my high school sweetheart, and the three I stumbled through while in the grips of a simmering nervous breakdown. There were housemates I loved, and a few that I loathed. There were rats (so many rats!) and leaks and yards becoming increasingly overgrown. There was a hills hoist out the back at each one.
Every time I relocate, the new soon becomes the familiar; the furniture is re-assembled, the bus or tram routes navigated, and I adjust to the new routine. But how can my current state of being not also be shaped both by what I’ve already lived through, and what I’ve been living in?
Named after the architectural feature of the classic Queenslander houses that populate Brisbane, Stilts has always had a preoccupation with what houses can mean to their occupants. How they can affect us while we’re in them, and even when we’ve moved on. The peeling paint on the walls. The holes in the floor. The sagging fences and buried dead dogs in the yards.
There is a story in this series from every state and territory of Australia. They don’t represent all of the architectural builds, or neighbourhoods, or household experiences. But they pinpoint some of the specifics, the differences that occur when you’re located in particular landscapes and climates and economies. We wanted to see whether the weatherboard cottages and the city apartments had anything in common. But mostly we wanted to hear how they’ve affected our authors.
In a couple of months I’ll have been in my current place, in a leafy suburb of Melbourne, for a year. I don’t quite feel the urge to move on from here just yet. I’ve gotten used to the dings of the trams on the busy street outside our front door. I’ve set up a TV that only picks up one channel, but luckily it’s the one that the footy is on. And I’m pretty sure the carpet in my bedroom now is exactly the same as what’s in the room I grew up in, back home up north.