We Are What We Stand On

A personal history of the Eltham Community

First published 1980

Adobe Press, Mount Pleasant Road, Eltham 3095

Copyright Alistair Knox 1980

ISBN 0 949909N

Author: Alistair Knox

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  • Early building experiences
    The first earth building I designed in Eltham was for a client named Frank English. He was a returned soldier who had seen earth structures in the Middle East where he served with the Ninth Division at Al Alamien, where Rommel was
  • Professional mud brick building
    I was in a semi-amateur role at the bank which had not stopped contributing my weekly salary and affording plenty of blotting paper on which to sketch up my new plans. It was late that year that I finally went professional to the envy of
  • Contents
    Foreword Introduction The Evocative Panorama Justus Jorgensen and Montsalvat The Metamorphosis of the Middle Class The Pise-de-terre Connection Early Building Experiences Historic Landmarks The Beginnings of the
  • Foreword
    ALAN MARSHALL The spirit of place is not only an atmosphere created by nature arranging the entry of Man upon the stage; it must contain something of Man himself. There must be communication between rock and pool and tottering fence
  • Introduction
    Forty years association with the Shire of Eltham has indelibly imprinted on my mind that it is entirely different-both environmentally and socially from any other locality in Victoria, or indeed Australia. As one crosses the Yarra River,
  • The Evocative Panorama
    It came as a delightful surprise to me to find that the mud brick buildings I first initiated and put on to a commercial footing so long ago, should have expanded into one of the most exciting social movements Australia has known. Earth
  • Justus Jorgensen and Montsalvat
    Creative communities develop creative lifestyles in the same way that affluent communities generate dreary ones. Life has to be lived and the affluent spend much time protecting themselves from such a contingency. The middle class society
  • Metamorphosis of The Middle Class
    Three young men, Graeme Bell, Roger Bell and Peter Glass, decided to build a mud brick house in Eltham in 1938. They were schoolboy friends who lived in Camberwell. They had developed a common interest in jazz music, which also brought
  • The Pise-de-Terre Connection
    Earth building was cheap in those days when it was self-built. The innumerable services and standards of today were simply not there. It was a matter of making the bricks, pouring footings, getting some second-hand scantling to make up
  • Historic Landmarks
    The first mud brick house ever built in Eltham was constructed around 1860. It was known to us as Souter's Cottage. It is situated in Falkiner Street, South Eltham, behind what is now the Eltham South Take-Away Food Shop. That building
  • Beginning of the Mud Brick Revival
    The mud brick building movement really got into its stride in Eltham in 1948. The Frank English house and the Macmahon Ball studio developed a run of earth wall buildings. I designed several during the next three years. Each one was
  • Aims, Objectives, and Spiritual Conflicts
    Aims, Objectives, and Spiritual Conflicts I had set my heart upon an architectural career and in a way I had got it. But it was the first time I registered that the attainment of goals in life did not always give the expected
  • The Tarnagulla-DunollyMoliagul Triangle
    At this time post war Australia was pregnant with possibility and challenge. The country was enjoying an international 'high', partly due to its newfound capacities, partly because the continent of Europe and sections of Asia were
  • Mud Brick Builders of Colour, Culture and Accomplishment
    The journey from Eltham to Tarnagulla was always undertaken by either Ernie Owen or Garnie Burgess, the only local carriers we had at the time. Some five or six workmen would be piled on the back of the vehicle together with materials
  • The Socio-Aesthetic Society
    Tim Burstall's connection with Eltham extended back to 1946. He worked on the repairs to the Brocksopp House, which was in those days known as Souter's Cottage. A couple of years later, he was one of a group who decided to buy land in the
  • The Renaissance of the Australian Film Industry
    Tim Burstall's connection with Eltham extended back to 1946. He worked on the repairs to the Brocksopp House, which was in those days known as Souter's Cottage. A couple of years later, he was one of a group who decided to buy land in the
  • The Impact of the Environment on the Eltham Inhabitants
    There was strong unity of thought in the inner Eltham community around 1950. More than half would be numbered amongst those who fraternised at the Eltham Hotel garden on Saturday at mid-day to exchange the topics of the week. There
  • The Impact of the Eltham Inhabitants on the Environment
    My introduction to the two most able and fascinating men who ever came to Eltham took place in 1948. They were Professor Richard Downing and his long time friend Dorian Le Gallienne. They asked me to design a weekend house for them in
  • The Rediscovery of the Indigenous Landscape
    It was because I was older than most of the Eltham community that I had a slight glimmer of the meaning of the indigenous environment before they did. My real understanding, however, began in 1948 at the beginning of my association
  • The Dunmoochin Episode
    Few would dispute that Clifton Pugh has been one of Eltham's best artists ever since he established himself as a member of its creative community when he built at Cottles Bridge in 1951. He was a little later arriving on the painting
  • The Dunmoochin Potters
    It was ten years after Clif first settled in Dunmoochin that Peter and Helen Laycock moved in to begin a potters community within the artists' enclave. Two years earlier, they had gone to live at Strathewen and had known Clif, Marlene,
  • Clifton Pugh's Success Story
    Clifton Pugh, who now enjoys the highest position, both as a portrait and landscape painter, can look back on those hard early days at Cottles Bridge with some pleasure and nostalgia. There are now no fleas, no rabbits, and no economic
  • Clifton Pugh's Success Story
    Clifton Pugh, who now enjoys the highest position, both as a portrait and landscape painter, can look back on those hard early days at Cottles Bridge with some pleasure and nostalgia. There are now no fleas, no rabbits, and no economic
  • Games They Played
    There were innumerable activities of a day-to-day nature that cannot be recorded, but John Serle, who was a painting student of Clifs for a considerable period, recalled some of the lighter community activities that mingled with and added
  • The Coming of the Corporate State
    In the 1950's Eltham began to change from a rural village into an outer suburb of Greater Melbourne. As the metropolis covered nearly 2,000 sq. miles, the phrase 'outer suburb' had different connotations from most other places. When I did