Gertrude’s Cottage

Hopefully I am not overburdening the dear readers with too much detail on our lives. I am sure that everyone has just as much fascinating memories about their pasts. I also assume that reflection on what has been is a nice way of whiling the time away. So, unless your lives are busy to the extend you are about to close the door and rush off to catch the 401 bus to the office, bear with me. Here is the tale of Gertrude’s Cottage.


This was the front of the cottage entered from the street behind a huge 10ft timber unscaleable fence.

Our first daughter was born in 1968. We were living in a small one bedroom apartment in Pott’s Point in inner Sydney. Things were idyllic and love was flourishing as it always does in newly joined couples. I am talking about that first flush which, like the white water rapids of a brooking river eventually flows into much calmer waters. It did not take long when our second child was on the way. We needed more space.

My decorating business was flourishing. We were living well but frugally, saving some money. As more space was needed I started scanning the newspapers. |We had also read somewhere that Balmain was becoming popular with students and artists. Potts Point was a rather bohemian place being near King’s Cross with its mixture of prostitutes, European delicatessen, artists and crooks, we looked for similar places to live. Crooks were still rife in Balmain!

A year or so before I worked on a large block of home-units in East Balmain. As I was sitting on the stone wall surrounding the three storey building overlooking the harbour I noticed across the road lower down a delightful old rickety timber cottage with a block of derelict land next to it. Some blond girls were playing. There were three billy goats tethered on stakes eating the weeds. I thought then that the situation with the sparkling water was so lovely. Did I have a premonition that we eventually would live in that very place?


This was the back of the house facing the Harbour and part of the bridge. Fabulous!

A couple of years later while reading the real estate section I happen to read a cottage offered for sale. It advertised itself as overlooking the harbour in Balmain. It included three goats. The price was $12,500.-. I could hardly contain myself. I never really thought much about that very American based bit of psychology, that if you think long and hard enough about what you want, you will always get it. Or, alternatively, your dreams will come true as long as you work towards it. The world is full of those that dream of riches and fame but still end up living impoverished and utterly forgotten having worked the fingers to the bone.

After having read the advertisement, I hopped in the old Ford zephyr ute. I drove to the front of that dear little cottage and it was the one I had seen previously. It was called ‘Gertrude’s cottage.’ It had just the right feel about it. We bought it after a very sceptic bank manager warned us against buying it. ‘It is just an old shed’, he said. It would have been in 1970. Our second daughter was born prior to us moving into our first ‘home’.
Was it luck or did my premonition before came true?

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10 Responses to “Gertrude’s Cottage”

  1. Steve Gingold Says:

    No worries from me regarding the delving into your past, Gerard. I live vicariously through my acquaintances pasts. 🙂 Nothing that I have ever had a premonition about came to pass which is a good thing since all my premonitions have been about what bad thing could possibly come of all this.


  2. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I am never bored by anything that you write or post. I find you life very interesting. Your children are in the approximate age group of my two kiddos. My daughter is 46 and my son will be 48 New Year’s eve. I have lived in the same house since I was newly married and hope that I die here as well. But I find all the places that you have lived very entertaining.



    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Yvonne, We think we will stay put now. We could not face another move with packing things and getting electricity connected, change postal address, driver’s license update. Apart from that we are happy here. It is peaceful, yet within walking distance of a lively centre with Latte, Danish Pastries, Cinemas and a pub that serves a mouth watering calamari.
      Thank you for your response and may you live for many healthy years to come.


  3. Andrew Says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your sharing of your memories, Gerard. They are written with a deep fondness and good humour. There are things we can all relate to and some we hope will never come to pass again. I do believe that homes can attract us but I don’t think I’ve yet found my perfect resting place. We expect one more upheaval before the ultimate move into the beyond.


  4. Rosie Says:

    I, too, very much enjoy your posts – all of them. But did you find out anything about Gertrude?


  5. Patti Kuche Says:

    You did extremely well in buying Gertrude’s cottage back in that day, and what a magical view. Where in Potts point were you?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it was a good buy and we loved the simplicity. The previous owners were ‘n architect and his wife with four little blond girls. He had gutted all the walls downstairs just leaving a large room with a slow combustion wood heater in the middle. The bath was in that room, so, visitors would just pretend looking at the passing ships when the bath was being used.
      Before Gertrude’s Cottage we lived in Tusculum Street, Pott’s Point, opposite the ‘Wayside Chapel’.


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I loved this Gerard! Gertrude’s cottage sounds charming and you made us all wish we had seen it.


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