In late 1983 my parents Max Carment (1918-2007) and Diana Carment (1927-2005) returned to Mosman, where they had lived from 1951 until 1973, by buying 11 Fairfax Road. It remained their home for the rest of their lives. The account that follows is from my father’s unpublished autobiography that he completed in 2000. It has been slightly edited.
‘As we looked around Mosman we saw a Californian bungalow in Fairfax Road which had been submitted for auction by Raine & Horne but not sold and was still for sale. This portion of Fairfax Road was a short cul-de-sac ending in steps leading down to Burran Avenue. The house was one from the corner of Kirkoswald Avenue but one of only four houses on its side of the street. It was externally badly presented. It had a rough stone fence on the street frontage and a short drive to a small single detached garage. There were no gates. There was a Yachting World Keelboat, a class of yacht about 30 feet in length, in the front garden. The house did not particularly interest me but Diana was insistent that we should have a look at it. We rang the agents and the young manager said that it was a large house and would not suit us. Diana sensibly replied that we would be the judges of its suitability. We asked the agent to make an appointment for us to inspect the house.
The owners were not present when we made the inspection. There was a tiled front verandah. Inside was a hall. On the left was a well proportioned dining room with double glass doors opening to an outside deck and on the left a master bedroom and a smaller second bedroom. Next on the left was a bathroom and toilet and a spacious back hall with stairs leading to an upper storey and double doors leading to quite a large lounge with glass doors leading on the deck and a magnificent view over Balmoral Beach and through the Heads. The lounge room had a marble fireplace and double doors leading to a glass walled back verandah, again with a wonderful view. The kitchen was very small and old fashioned. Upstairs there was a recent addition consisting of a very large room with floor to ceiling windows on three sides and a superb view. There was also an en suite shower and toilet. The smallish rear garden had some fine trees and camellias.
Although it was obvious that there was a lot to be done, the flat site and very fine views attracted us and we made an offer that the owners immediately rejected. We subsequently got a call from the agent to see if we would increase the offer, but we refused. We forgot all about it and we were going away for a National Trust weekend at Mudgee when the agent rang again to say that our offer had been accepted. Diana signed the contract on 26 October 1983. By appointment we met the owners. We had another look at the house and discussed moving dates. I insisted that the boat must go from the front garden.
We moved into Fairfax Road at the end of November 1983. What a contrast it was to the unfriendliness of Pymble, where we had lived in the late 1970s. Margaret Payne, an old friend, lived just around the corner in Kirkoswald Avenue and immediately rang to ask us for dinner because we would be so tired after the move. Our excellent next door neighbours Brian and Judith Ahearne moved in on the same day. We had very friendly offers of assistance from David Johnston opposite and a friendly welcome from Dick and Rhona Butler next door. I knew Dick from the Warringah Bowling Club and their eldest son David had been a friend of our son David at Shore. We had fallen among friends and the friendship continues to this day. No matter what repairs had to be made to the house, none were really major. Right from the start we knew that this time we had not made a mistake.’
Recent research shows that the house was built in 1918. It was later extensively altered and added to but the front facade, the front hall and a front room now used as a bedroom all appear to be original. Some alterations made during the 1960s and 1970s were, unfortunately, poorly designed and erected and later caused problems. My mother sensibly removed the iron lace that was added to the front then in an odd attempt to make a Californian bungalow look more like a Victorian terrace. In spite of such issues, like my parents I remain very fond of the house and feel most fortunate to live there.
The house you describe was occupied by the Lorimers when we lived in Mosman in the 60s/70s. Over the road on the corner was a two story blond brick home occupied by the Murrays (Len and Mabs and their sons Richard and Stuart). Beside them was a huge old house with a Kirkoswald address and land that went through to Fairfax Road. For a short time it was occupied by George Johnston and and Charmian Clift and their three children.
I’m just remembering David, a day when we played sardines under “your” house, in amongst the foundations in the dark. Stuart Murray cheated by pssting me, and we hid together until found. I was probably about 12 or 13. I think he might have slipped me a kiss.