While sorting through a pile of old photos, I recently discovered a couple of the kitchen in the government flat where Don and I lived when I first came to Australia (1983). We lived there about 4 years while saving money to build our own place. It was probably as comfortable as any place in Darwin, given the tropical climate, and the fact that almost no one had air conditioning at home. A romantic notion prevailed that louvers and breezes were enough to live comfortably. And they were, if all you did was lie in bed under a fan and drink iced tea all day.
We had four seasons… just not the traditional ones. The Dry Season was from June to August, the ‘build up’ was from September until whenever it started raining, usually about December or January. The Rainy Season, or Green Season as they now call it, was from whenever it started raining until it stopped, usually around March or April, after which the transition season was called the ‘Knock ‘em Downs’. Strong winds would blow, knocking down the grasses that had grown tall during the wet season. The flat was most comfortable in the ‘Dry’, but also quite pleasant if there was a proper ‘Wet’ and the humid breezes would blow through the louvers acting a bit like evaporative air conditioning… sort of.
The kitchen in the Smith Street flat was almost never cool, but I was young and in love. We had a toaster and when I arrived on the scene I bought a hand held mixer and eventually a food processor. And sometime early on, Don bought me a little rotating fan! That was it. We had no dishwasher or microwave or any other appliances. No place to put them anyway. The storage in the kitchen was not great and what was there was not efficient. But that kitchen was where I learned to cook.
The house we moved into after the flat was one we had built. It was a ‘high set’ house, built on poles, to catch the tropical breezes from the valley we overlooked. That is a romantic way of saying, again, we had no air conditioning, except for one small unit in our bedroom. We decided it would afford us a good night’s sleep when the overnight lows were hot and humid.
The kitchen in the house on Nudl Street was a big step up in the world. We had a dishwasher and a microwave! And soon, we had a baby! On the back of this photo I had written: “Barefoot. Pregnant. In the Kitchen. I have probably set the women’s movement back 20 years with this photo”!
There were a couple of other kitchens in between that one and the one we have now, but I somehow missed taking photos of them, too busy cooking, probably. One of them was nice, but small, the other, well, let’s just say you aren’t missing anything!
Three years ago, I finally got one of my dream kitchens (there are several). I spent over 100 hours planning and drawing. I measured each of the more important appliances and utensils, designing storage for what I had and how I wanted to use it. A place for every thing, and every thing in its place. This kitchen is a joy to use.
Is the food coming out of it any better than in that first little kitchen? I doubt it. It was all made with love. But the journey has been fun and rather tasty.