It's remarkable how strong childhood memories can be, and how long they live on in the human memory banks. My father was one of Brisbane's great rat-runners. (A rat-runner is a driver who uses back streets, rather than main roads, to navigate the city.) In the sixties when he was frequently driving me to some destination or other, he had all sorts of devious tricks to avoid the heavier traffic and the traffic lights on arterial roads. He thought they were a nightmare then - I'd hate to think what he would be saying about the congestion and confusion on those roads today.
Anyhow, one of his favourite routes was around the back of the suburb of Toowong, steering clear of Milton Road and Coronation Drive. He used to dart up Miskin St and around Dean St, past the cemetery and along Frederick St, thereby missing most of the Toowong and Milton traffic. He wasn't Robinson Crusoe - those streets themselves are now quite busy and have flyovers, roundabouts and traffic lights to bedevil motorists. Dad would be horrified.
On Dean St there was a house that I would gaze at admiringly. To me, it was the epitome of a posh residence, and I mean that in a positive way. To a kid living in a cement box in an outlying Housing Commission area, this house represented absolute luxury. The dual staircase at the front and the chimney on the roof spoke to me of opulence and extravagance. The cast iron balustrading and the columns on the verandah indicated taste and class to my teenage brain. Here's a photo - look for yourself.(Photo: © 1979 National Trust of Queensland)
Much as I admired it then, I had no knowledge of its history; and I don't know much more about it now. The house is Warrawee, built in the 1880s on a large hilltop estate at Toowong. From what I see at the Queensland Heritage Register, it was built on land that was owned by an Albert White, and then rented to an executive of an insurance company. Apparently it was rented during much of its life. If I recall correctly, the house was used in at least one television advertising campaign for a home lender, and it has appeared in numerous real estate magazines and newspaper real estate sections. Here is a photograph of the southern side of the property.
The land that surrounds the house was eventually sub-divided, and the area is now very suburban. A street to the rear of the residence was named Warrawee St after the property. These days the house is shielded from the busy road by a clump of trees, thus precluding wistful looks from kids being driven past by their dads. This is a recent photograph taken from the front gate.(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)
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EDIT July 2011: I can now advise that this house is for sale. You can see the details and some wonderful photographs of the house here.