Friday, October 7, 2011

On the subject of home...

What I see from the driveway... 

In the middle of a discussion about moving (not us!) the other day, Mr S said to me the 'Could you imagine never seeing Cradle Mountain again?' 
Initially I said 'Well, yes...'
'Like, never being able to go there and see Cradle Mountain again?' and I realised that the very thought made me sad.

I always thought I wasn't that fussed about where I lived, so long as Mr S & I were together (Millie now too). He probed this thought further with questions like 'Would you want to live in <dodgy suburb>?' and 'You say you need to smell eucalyptus trees - you could live in America?' No.

Which brought me to my navel gazing bus ride home musing... what do I need to have that sense of home? 

Really, I'm not sure. When I say 'home' to myself I'm immediately taken to the north west coast of Tasmania, where the seas are rough, mountains green, hills rolling and dirt deep red. That feels like home to me. The briskest of sea breezes. A room with a view of the water.

I always thought home was where my family was, as in Mr S, Millie & our various furchildren. It's a lovely ideal - not needing anything but each other. And if everything turned sour in our lives and we needed to live in one room, we could. But that isn't home. You know, home; the yearning you feel in your solar plexus when you think of going there, or leaving there. 

I understand that home can come in many forms, and you can have more than one. For instance,  Mr S grew up on a rural block that backed onto a national park, and now as an adult, he gets a certain kind of tetchy over the course of a few weeks and I know he needs to go bush and hug a tree reconnect with the rainforest. But I also know he likes to return to his other home. To me, his family.

I get a pull towards my home town every few years. I need to fly back, walk around the town, go for a drive to the sheep station we lived on and smell the landscape that is so unmistakably rural NSW. Crunchy leaves underfoot, a disgusting heat haze, the smell of eucalyptus leaves and an outlook across pastures. But it's not home anymore. I don't want to live there right now. So after three days I like to get on a plane and fly to Tasmania, where I get off the plane and it smells like home. It smells like rainforest even though it's an airport. It smells cool, damp and green and feels oh so good to breathe in.

Mr S & I have been in Tasmania since 2005, and when we moved here it was such a great opportunity for a fresh start. No friends, no family, barely any belongings. We laid on the lounge room floor of our three story townhouse in south Hobart drinking cheap Pinot Noir and looking at the chandeliers hanging from the roof. Because we didn't have a TV or any furniture. We were beginning again. 

Then I got a letter from my mum with two clippings about my relatives. Turns out I'm a Hellyer - Hellyer College, Hellyer gorge etc. Henry Hellyer was my (number of greats unknown) grandfather's brother, I think. And my other relative got a ticket of leave to Hobart & built his house in Adelaide Street. The reason that sounded familiar to us is that it was around the corner from our joint. So, err, perhaps a few ties? Is this why I feel settled in Tasmania -  it's in my blood?

Mr S & I were lucky enough to be able to purchase our first home when the interest rate was so low, it was cheaper than paying inner city rent. We have a large house overlooking a river. It's a large house that is entirely liveable but has accents of Mission Brown on the outside, rotting window frames and  would love a champagne renovation.  Alas, we can't justify that kind of renovation right now, so we give it some cask wine love every now and then. Its a nice house, but still not where I want to spend the rest of my life. When I lamented this to Mr S, he chuckled and said 'Yeah. Terrible. How could you not nail your dream home first go?' Good point, Mr S. Thanks for the perspective.

So since then I've been daydreaming about what an ideal material home would be. I say material, because at the end of the day I recognise that this is a privileged problem to have, and really, perhaps I'm thinking far too much about this.

I spend hours perusing the real estate websites and daydreaming. The things I'd like in an Ideal Material House...
  1. A parents retreat
  2. Dishwasher (or a child old enough to fulfil this duty)
  3. A bathroom with a double vanity
  4. Skylights
  5. A kitchen with tall benches, ample cupboard space, massive benches, double deep sinks, gas cooker and electric oven
  6. Land that overlooks the Huon Valley 
  7. A sunroom and deck that overlook the land that overlooks the Valley 
  8. Solar hot water
  9. Cozy carpets 
  10. Ducted wood fire heating

But I don't think a physical house is what I'm looking for. I'm looking for my version of 'home'. The yearning, solar plexus pulling home. I've narrowed it down to Tasmania... but where to from there?

Is home a physical place or an emotional state? What do you think? 


  1. I have three versions of home:-
    Spiritual home - the place where my soul feels free (that is currently split between Tassie and South Africa - but SA may not exsist anymore as I havent been there for so long.)
    Physical home:- the place where I live now
    Emotional home:- where I can retreat to when the world is falling down around me. (still mums place in Brissy).

    My physical home I have learnt after looking at WAAY to many houses which hypothetically fit my needs but dont fit needs trees, some height and a garden.

  2. Oh I love this breakdown Zelda! More food for my thoughts.. xx

  3. I feel the same way about the NW coast. Even though I haven't lived there for many years, it always feels like home, with that ocean view, the lush fields, the red soil .... just like you say.

    My Mum has done a lot of research on the life of Henry Hellyer. I'm not sure exactly what got her interested in him, maybe because he was one of the most important people in the area and she is interested in the local history. I must ask her!

  4. I learnt a bit about Henry Hellyer when I was visiting Higfield House in Stanley. Tragic guy :(

    I don't get great yearnings for my "home", really. I spent 18 years trying to get out of it! I don't think Jem is really that attached to his "home", either. Hobart is my home now.



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