This is a sweet little semi dating from around the 1860s in a fairly private little corner of the lower north shore, Waverton. The suburb, along with Wollstonecraft, is a good buy as the properties tend to be a bit cheaper than the surrounding neighbourhoods, such as McMahons Point. What it lacks in mansions it makes up for in history, views and, to quote The Castle, serenity. Reason enough to visit, in my book, but the main drawcard was the fact that one of Australia’s most celebrated (and perhaps the most celebrated, when it comes to prose, sharing the poetry stage with Banjo Paterson) authors lived here, Henry Lawson.
Lawson, who was born in a goldfields town, lived in several houses on Euroka Street, and settled in North Sydney. A Campfire Yarn and A Fantasy of Man, which I read as a child when my grandad loaned me the volumes, capture Australian life, and particularly the reality of outback living, more honestly than any other source – and I really recommend picking anything of his up.
One of the house’s most welcome features is its clear thread to the past – renovations have been completed over the years, but the home’s layout betrays its nineteenth century construction. The new buyer (it’s up for auction, and with a price guide around $800,000 I’d suggest that it’s a good deal) would most likely prefer to change the house’s quirky design, building a unified second storey to replace the separated upstairs rooms at the front and back of the house, inaccessible to each other, and probably add another bathroom. But as it stands, it’s a charming house that straight away transports you to Lawson’s era, which is what sets it apart from similar period homes.
The house is, unsurprisingly, heritage listed, and bears all the conventions of a Victorian home – attractive floorboards, well-kept fireplaces, high ceilings. The owners have added pretty accents to the home with their design choices, with the children’s room and eat-in kitchen boasting some nice artefacts. The front yard is long and narrow, there’s a courtyard with a sitting area at the side of the house and the backyard is layered. While there isn’t much grass in the back, the courtyards make for a great entertaining space, and the height of the land gives you a peaceful view to the trees over the roofs of the street’s other historic houses.