By far the majority of the population appears to be living in endless new subdivisions springing up north and south along the coast in almost identical houses of four bed, two bath configuration, or the odd ‘lifestyle’ village intended for retirees. They remind me of those even –aged timber plantations that pretend to be forests but are totally devoid of any other form of life. Not only are these houses visually uninteresting after you have seen a few hundred, but their stories have yet to be written. They remind me of the new mining towns – functional and more comfortable to live in, but nowhere near as interesting or charming as the old ones.
Thought Brighton Beach would be a nice place to have lunch
except it was in the process of being transformed into another exclusive 'lifestyle' community and I was chased away by the builders.
'Gentle Paul' turned out to be a Shopping Centre and 'Secret Harbour' dumped me in the
middle of a new subdivision.
Initially, where timber was scarce, they used tin, mudbrick and local stone – even cemented shell blocks in the case of Shark Bay. Then they added verandahs, breezeways and in grander places, towers that sucked in cool air. There may be elements of the colonial experience as well. In Colonel Sanders’ house, built at the Convict Hiring Station in Lynton in around 1853, the door of each room opens on to the verandah to catch the ocean breeze, an Indian idea which I have seen used in other fearfully hot places in the outback, such as the Great Western Hotel in Cobar. The nice wide streets in most country towns are owed to the cameleers and bullockies who brought in supplies and needed to be able to turn around large teams. Eventually, with the arrival of large numbers of Italians in the 1950s, came lots of paving, cement rendering and large open entertainment areas – very much the style you see now, though minus the balustrades and lions.
Not sure who to blame for the impressive gates – perhaps pastoralists with delusions of grandeur, but in the cities, they appear mainly on newer buildings, so I am thinking that perhaps it’s the Rose Porteous effect (wife of Australian iron – ore king – Lang Hancock) after the construction of her Paradise de l’ Amour. Her other legacy appears to be the profligate use of bricks.
Here and there there is also something of a Spanish influence – arches, red tiles and a kind of low bungalow style especially evident on the Great Eastern Highway between Mahogany Creek and Northam. A pastoralist and meat works owner who imported his cattle from Spain, got the ball rolling by building his grand El Caballo Hotel and it looks like the neighbours were inspired to do the same. The beachside township of Yanchep also has a number of houses in this style. Certainly Mediterranean style, whether Spanish or Italian is so much more suited to this climate.