Earlier this week my work unit went to a farewell lunch for a colleague at a Vegan café in Fitzroy, not far from work.
The departing colleague was a Vegan hence the choice of the eatery and I must admit it was a good choice as the food was very tasty.
It was a tiny place and the person running it looked familiar to me, from somewhere back in the distant past. He kept looking at me as if he knew me as well and it turns out we were acquainted something like 38 years ago. As I was paying my bill, he mentioned that he knew me when I lived in a mansion in Parkville with W, my boyfriend at the time. He was a friend of W and I had met W at the place they shared at that time.
Anyway it brought back memories of living at Mount Ievers, the mansion in question.
It does sound rather glamorous, but in fact I lived in the back garden in a small self contained one roomed hut. It was a great place to live. The mansion was a grand old towered structure called Mount Ievers set in a large garden, situated on Royal Parade. The main house was divided up into flats and also had about 10 dwellings out the back in various shapes and sizes. My hut was furnished with a bed, a wardrobe, table and chairs and had a tiny stove and a sink. Someone once remarked to me that it looked like a gypsy caravan. It was set out in the back garden, up against the old inner circuit railway cutting. Trains only ran occasionally, about one a day, so it was generally pretty quiet. There was a motel on the opposite side of the cutting. (See picture here - my room was on the left bank)
I lived at Mount Ievers for five years and only left when the place was sold to a developer who promptly demolished it and built a block of flats in its stead. I doubt if they would be allowed to do this these days. Mount Ievers was built in 1890 and was the family home of William Ievers, a prominent early Melbournian. It still belonged to the family when I lived there in the late 1960s. Old Mrs Ievers, who lived in another beautiful mansion a few doors down from Mount Ievers used to sit out in the garden and supervise the gardener. We paid our rent to her grandsons who lived in other grand houses in the Parkville area.
My hut cost me $9.00 a week - rather expensive - considering my weekly income at the time was about $20.00, but well worth it. It was close to Melbourne University and afforded me an independent lifestyle in a beautiful setting.
When I first moved in (1968) most of the back garden residents were elderly, but this changed over the years as more students occupied the vacated units. The social life of the place livened up no end after that, and I remember afternoons of lounging around in the garden with the other young residents, playing cards and drinking wine. They were fun days, full of sunshine and laughter.
The huts were attractively built and furnished with what today would be antique furniture. I still have a very handsome oak chair I took as a memento from Mount Ievers when I moved out. The backyard residences also had odd features like stained glass windows and decorative pressed tin ceilings. I ended up living in three different places, moving from my original hut to a slightly larger one (it had two rooms), then on to one which had its own shower. That flat was at the very back and looked out on an orchard of quince trees. Ivy was invading the shower space, so it was pleasant showering amid greenery.
My first hut seen through foliage
The second dwelling
I lived there with two cats, Morgan and Tam, and when I was forced to move took them with me. Alas Morgan disappeared shortly after I moved into the new place, then Tam vanished as well.
The five years I spent at Mount Ievers were some of the best of my life. I started my book collection about then, and I remember reading Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier in that first little hut, so Mount Ievers in my memory has a sort of lost domain, Proustian glow. I still dream of it every now and then.
Here’s what I wrote in my diary when I first saw the place.
I swear I wrote the bulk of this entry today at work, and only this evening hunted through my old diary for this entry. It's uncanny how the young Anne of the diary echoes the sentiments of the old Anne writing this blog.
As always click for larger images...