We held our picnic at the house where I grew up in Stroud, NSW; about an hour North of Newcastle and three hours North of Sydney. The house was bought by my grandfather (Boompa) in the late eighties after he won the lottery and was used as a bit of a holiday house.
In its original state the house would probably have been somewhere near a hundred years old - it used to have an indoor rockgarden, orange and khaki striped 70s carpet, indoor trees that supported the roof, horse hair textured plaster, a rock wall, bats living in the walls and seemed to have been renovated (badly but creatively) by the residents who lived there each decade.
My Boompa passed away the year I was born and my mum bought the property from my Nanna. For about a decade, my mum and her ex partner renovated most of the house and added a bit more practicality. My mum calls it Ramshackle - that's kind of the essence of the place. I'd like to get my mum to list it on Air B'n'b - I think it would be a fun place for people to stay for a weekend.
Theres a story about my little sister asking my mum why she was stuffing sheets in the holes in the walls and my mum replied "to keep the draughts out". Several years later my sister asked my mum why she had lied to her, after she found at that giraffes don't live in Australia.
All of the pom poms you see in these photos were made by my Nanna and her sister. Something like 200 pom poms!
It was a great, colourful place to grow up - we had chickens, a dam, a huge garden, a giant tree house, an array of wildlife and could go exploring in the bush. As I got older it felt so far removed from everything and so isolated, but I can appreciate that more now.
It's hard to remain objective about a place that feels like such a part of you. Sometimes it's been hard to even find it beautiful and not just a whole bunch of hard work, but the longer I spend away from it, the more I miss it. When C and I were planning, it never crossed our minds that we would have our picnic anywhere else.
My sister pegged up a bunch of photos of the house over the sixteen years we lived there, which hung in the hallway for people to look at. So many changes!
On the day we were lucky(?) enough to have one of the resident pythons come out and say hello. I didn't get to see it and thought people we joking when they said they'd seen a snake. These pythons were a very present part of my growing up here - always popping up in unexpected places (curled up on my mum's pillow on her bed catching the afternoon rays of sun, sitting comfortably with a chicken in its belly in the chicken coop or finding two pythons snuggled up under the hot water system in our bathroom!). Have I frightened you? Not to worry, not poisonous and these ones were pretty tame.
I'm so grateful that Justin captured so many beautiful parts of this place.