Memories of Mater Prize Homes

March 23, 2020

North America sixties era wooden bungalows in suburbia.


When I was a little girl back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, going to see the latest Mater Prize Home was a popular weekend outing for many families, including mine.

We lived on the northside of Brisbane, so usually only visited the ones in our local area – in Aspley and the upmarket Aspley Gardens estate (now part of Carseldine), West Chermside, McDowall and Everton Park.

It was always quite a festive affair, and easy to spot which house was the one on show – by all the cars parked along the street, the pennants and flags out the front fluttering in the breeze, and always an ice cream van as well.

Inside we joined the throngs slowly shuffling their way through the home, oohing and ahhing at each new discovery. Many of the rooms were gated off, so you could only view them from the doorway – and there was plastic installed over the carpets in the major traffic areas.

In those days, most homes were two storey brick, and usually included a swimming pool. Unfenced! Imagine that.

Photos courtesy of the House Detective

The decor was bold and bright and shag pile “wall to wall carpeting” was the option du jour – it was the 70’s after all! We children would excitedly pronounce which room would be “ours”, should our family win.

These display homes showcased the very latest and greatest in interior decor, and featured signs boasting that they were “all electric” – with luxuries such as ceiling fans, dishwashers, colour televisions, fridges and freezers.

How times have changed, to the point where it is almost impossible to spend a day without electricity.

Yet that is exactly what I had to do recently.

A Day Without Electricity

A few months ago, Energex advised they would be doing work in our street, and that the power would be off for approximately six hours between 8am and 3pm.

At first I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a problem, as we have gas hot water and a gas cooktop.

But then I realised: both have electric ignitions. Which meant I would have to make sure I was up and ready for the day before 8am or else risk a cold shower. And what about a cuppa?! How would I manage without that? I made sure to fill my thermos with boiling water first thing that morning.

Obviously I wouldn’t be able to use my computer (I work from home), so I thought I could charge up the laptop and use that instead … except I would still have problems accessing the internet, as the modem would also be off. At a pinch I could hotspot from my mobile phone, but my plan doesn’t allow for much data so it wasn’t ideal.

What I hadn’t counted on was that it would be a gloomy winter’s day. Normally I would just hit the light switch but alas, that was not a possibility on a day without electricity …

And it was so darn QUIET! No radio, no TV, no hum of electric appliances, no noise from the neighbours’ houses.

So I did what any sensible woman would do.

I went shopping 😉.