This is the home of Ol' Man River, my rather eccentric father-in-law. He built this home from scratch with his bare hands and bartered and salvaged all of the building materials which have created this abode. Every single one of the stones in the wall were lifted from the river and placed on top of each other to carefully create this home. When my husband first left Melbourne at the age of 12 to live with his dad on the River, this home had bark walls and a hard mud floor. Caleb used to do his homework by the light of a flickering candle. A stark contrast from his Mum's sea side home on the Mornington Peninsula.
My very first visit to this home was back in 2002 a few weeks after I first met Caleb. It was a cold winter's night and after a long unfamiliar four-wheel-drive trip along a dark dirt road I fell instantly in love with this home and Caleb of course. I was welcomed by the stone walls, the dim lights, and the open roaring fire place. I adore it's warmth, it's tribalness, it's freedom, it's earth element, and it's rebellion to everything suburban. The walls are adorned with nick nacks collected from around the world and precious artefacts given as gifts. Each feather, crystal, skull, painting and book find their space within the wall joins and support beams.
Over the years I've seen it transform and grow, just as our family has. We used to bath under the big old tree outside under the stars, we now shower inside in an enclosed stone walled bathroom. The kerosene lamps and candles have been replaced by solar power. Tents were once bedrooms and now we rest inside on sheep skin covered beds under soft cotton mozzie nets. The patio where we used to have early morning coffees is now a sleep out. The front verandah where I used to lay in the hammock with Caleb when I was 18 has now been enclosed and the hammock is no more.
The walls of this home have seen many good times. People have come and gone from this space, often falling in love with it just as I have. And while there may be months in between our visit here, as soon as I walk through the door I am flooded with decade old memories of love, laughter and tenderness that this home and family have provided me.
Over 2014 I look forward to documenting more stories of dwellings and the people who live in them especially as my parents move out of our family home of 24 years. There is truly something special about the space we create around us and the walls in which our families are raised.