As I was to be married a couple of months later, I was allowed to take up residence in a modest house in Maud Street, one of fourteen houses the CRB owned within the town. These houses were provided for engineers, surveyors and skilled tradesmen who were often transitory in their CRB employment, particularly the younger engineers who would move, seeking promotion, to another country division or back to Head Office at Kew. Acceptance of renting these CRB houses was subject to a very strange condition in that you were forbidden to have greyhounds, ferrets or pigeons—no mention of dingoes or eagles.
Many engineers would journey through their career and life moving from one CRB house to another. However, like some other engineers, I felt it would be beneficial to board the home ownership merry-go-round somewhere not too far along the career path.
So, in late 1971 my wife and I, with our 15-month-old son, inspected building blocks in a recently developed housing estate on the former property of Lady Knox near Ferntree Gully. This estate was in the developing outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, not that far from where my wife and I had spent our childhoods. Its attractive treed allotments within a well- designed streetscape environment appealed to us as our future family home after my transfer back to Head Office. The purchase price of $4,500 per block we considered reasonable, so we decided to purchase two adjacent blocks - pay for one and pay the second block off.
Then, in late 1973, we received an offer from an estate agent for us to sell the blocks for $6000 each. We had received other lesser offers over the past 6 months as popularity grew for available blocks within this estate. However, this latest offer gained our attention as our original plans to migrate back to Melbourne had come under review. Another son was now part of our family, and we were settling into country life in Benalla. I had also just qualified as a Municipal Engineer which provided me with prospects of alternate employment as a Shire or City Engineer.
We accepted the agent’s offer in December 1973. Then three months later, only just three months—thanks to the inflationary policies of the Whitlam Government—those very same blocks were on sale for $ 12,000 each!
If only I`d (we) had waited for another 3 months. If only ---
PS - We purchased our first Benalla home at auction in January 1974. The mortgage would have been $12,000 less ... If only I’d (we)---