Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 23 Summer 2009 Contents INSITE SUMMER 111
inaccessible and has little or no
e sheer scarceness of suitable waterfront
locations creates a sense of uniqueness and
exclusivity, which fuels our yearning to
obtain something which is rare and limited.
But our desire to live by water has not
always been such a prominent part of
Australian culture. Perth, like other major
cities, was chosen as a suitable settlement
site due to its waterside location. But this
was a decision based on necessity rather
"Water provided us with transportation,
commerce and trade," says UWA's Faculty
of Architecture deputy dean Professor
"All the original Perth land was
subdivided from the water's edge, in long
blocks, and the houses opened to the river to
access transport. Now we have roads so more
houses are accessed from the rear and the
reason for living by water has moved from a
practical choice to a lifestyle one."
In fact, historians and social
commentators agree that Australia's
fixation and fascination with living by water
-- in particular the coast -- is a relatively
Cultural commentator Bernard Salt says
our obsession is a feature of the 20th Century
and is unique to our generation.
"It used to be the bush and the interior
that captivated our imagination and
admiration," Bernard says.
"In the 19th Century, the majority of our
nation's wealth was generated from land-
producing activities -- gold, wheat, meat.
is situation continued up until the end
of the World War II when things began to
slowly change. In the 60s and 70s we saw
the idea of retiring to the coast take hold.
Life expectancy had increased and we now
had years beyond work, which we could
live off pensions. Up until then it was only
the extremely well-to-do that could afford
Bernard says from the 1970s, the
movement gathered real momentum and by
the 90s, there had been a significant shift in
thinking about life on the water's edge.
"We are now obsessed with living
by water and it's something uniquely
Australian. Each culture expresses itself
differently. Americans, for example, flock
to play golf in the desert and the fastest
growing county is in Arizona. Australians
couldn't think of anything worse. We don't
do desert, we do coast.
"Waterfront in most cities around the
world is highly sought-after but in Australia
we seek it out to the exclusion of all else.
I know there's a new trend towards tree
change but it's always the poor cousin to sea
change. When people say they prefer trees
it's often because they can't afford water."
Acclaimed author Robert Drewe agrees
with the shift in prominence from the
Australian interior to the coastal fringe.
In a speech at a sea-themed gallery
opening he once said: " ere's no getting
away from the fact that the coast, the beach,
has a powerful grip on the Australian psyche.
" at stereotypical Australian ethos
which historians say developed from the
deprivation of 19th Century bush workers
-- one of taciturn stoicism, practicality and
independence -- the Australian legend -- has
"Growing up wedged between the
Indian Ocean and the desert, thousands of
miles from the nearest metropolis, West
Australians found it impossible to imagine
an Australian culture which did not embrace
the ocean and river shores.
" e Australian spirit, whether residing
in the Gold Coast businessman, the Byron
Bay surfer or the Geraldton crayfisherman,
is primarily a search for physical and
emotional comfort which seems attainable
"We are now obsessed with living by water
and it's something uniquely Australian."
TRANQUILITY BASE: Designed by Grounds Kent architects and
built by boutique builders Valmadre Constructions, this exclusive
beachfront hideaway in Bunker Bay (above) is available for rent
through Private Proper ties for a cool $7400 a week.
NATURAL WONDER: Earthy tones and natural materials provide
a warm and cosy feel to the inside of this waterfront home (right).
Links Archive Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page