Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pioneer History

Photos: Okains Bay Homestead. 2008 Ajr

When I was in Okains Bay the other day I was lucky enough to visit an old relic of a house where time has stood still. Built for one of the bays early pioneering families, it is currently for sale for the first time since it was built in the 1850s. The outbuildings are all original and the home’s interior is just as its last fulltime owner left it in the late 1970s when she passed away. Since then it has been used as a holiday home by the extended family.
You’d think that alone would have ushered in change but no, to step in here is to step into a time warp. It felt like being marooned back in the 1950s and as I sat there, in total silence, I half expected the owner to come bouncing into the parlour offering me tea and scones. Her vases filled with plastic flowers are still there (miraculously dust-free); her black handbag still stands on the bedroom dressing table. There is a cream glove casually lying on a parlour cabinet, as if she had just rushed home from an outing and torn off her glove in her hurry to get to work in the kitchen. Cabinets are still filled with her china; coats hang in bedroom cupboards and, most bewildering of all, all the chair cushions appeared to have fresh ‘hollows’, as if someone had heard me coming and had jumped up and hidden, leaving their telltale ‘bottom dents’ in the cushions.
For all that, it seemed a happy, restful place – not at all ‘spooky’ in any haunted sense. It felt like a safe house, a house with soul and generations of stories to tell. Sometimes you can just feel that in a place; sometimes that overriding sense of family history is almost palpable.

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