My dad lived across from the beach, for a number of years, when I was growing up. It was great being able to walk out the front door, cross the road and be on the beach with its long stretch of golden sand. If you walked in one direction, you’d reach the mouth of the river that we sometimes swam in. Clear waters, gum trees edging the banks and a few boulders alongside it that were perfect for sitting on when you were drying off. If you walked in the other direction, you reached a creek that was muddy and good for catching prawns with a cast net. And of course, there was plenty of beachfront between them to swim, walk, have campfires and just hang out with friends.
One year my sister and I both decided we wanted cubbyhouses. And of course we each wanted our own. My sister wanted hers in the mango tree out the back and she was happy with a platform type of cubbyhouse that was open and accessible by a ladder. I guess I must have been the difficult child as I had other ideas. There was an old water tank stand out the side, basically four large, round posts with cross beams on top of them that looked like a tic-tac-toe grid from above.
My cubbyhouse needed a roof and walls since I wanted to be able to sleep in it. I also wanted it to be two storeys and have a verandah out the front where I could look across to the beach. And windows. I needed windows. I might have been a slightly demanding child at times, but at least I knew exactly what I wanted. I admit to being only slightly demanding though. And I was willing to help build it.
A roof was added to the water tank stand, high enough above the crossbeams that when ply was added to the crossbeams I was able to sit up on them without hitting my head on the roof. With some space to spare. The centre of the crossbeams was left open. When walls were added, leaving a section of the ply covered crossbeams outside the walls for the verandah, the upstairs floor of the cubbyhouse created a ‘U’ shape.
Looking out the front door.
I also got the windows I wanted. An old canvas tent was cut up to make the walls, cut in a way that the windows of the tent ended up in the right places for the cubbyhouse. It was perfect. I could sleep upstairs, sit out on my verandah that overlooked the beach and have various odds and ends downstairs. I used it for a lot of years. Having sleepovers in it with friends, lying down upstairs listening to the rain on the tin roof as I read and sitting on the verandah talking with friends. Sadly I have no photos of the cubbyhouse, but since it was at the side of the house, I had the same view as what could be seen from the front door. The road, some gum trees, the beach and the ocean, islands in the distance. It was a good view and an even greater cubbyhouse.