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12 – 14 John Rowell Lane Mornington


A home for people who live, love and share.  There’s no straight lines, no sleek fusion of contemporary design, no free-flowing rooms or open plan blah blah. This is a home, not a house, one that exudes the sensitivity of cook together, eat together, play together, stay together. Visiting open for inspections every weekend I’m often surprised and perhaps a little offended by the amount of comments from would be buyers; critiquing a home’s floorplan to ensure there is space to banish the children so the adults can enjoy “adult” time.  What a load of crap, a home is for all, and this one crafts communication, participation and consideration.  Of the many houses, I visit; this one is more human than weatherboard and plaster. A little rambling, a bit quirky, full of wonders and wholly friendly. You can’t help but feel you’re known in this place. She sits high at the back of the block, imposing, looking over all who mingle in her front yard.  She is a mother, a mother of a large brood that obey without question or delay.

This grand lady is now 97 years young and carries her age with grace and style.  She reminds you of a visit to Nan’s. Welcoming, always something smelling amazing on the stove and you know you can have as many chocolate teddy bears your stomach can handle. She’s a welcome relief that mandates you just be you, nothing more, nothing less.

She went to auction on Saturday morning, April 8th. A beautiful morning where looking left from the front gate down to the Mornington Harbour from 12-14 John Rowell Lane Mornington can only be described as majestic. The dirt lane leads your eye through a natural treed aperture creating a picture window framed view of the Mornington Harbour, moored sailing boats bobbing on the swell and the blue of the morning sky fashioning a backdrop rarely experienced anywhere in the world. Your imagination engages; you see yourself with new eyes; a sense of life well spent or a life ready to be embraced.

A large crowd assembled on the front lawn just before auction time; it didn’t have the normal auction feel; this was more of an upmarket gathering, the gentry and establishment onsite to pay respect, to witness the next chapter to say they were there.  Folks made the most of the delightful front garden setting, the free coffee on offer; sitting around the cast iron outdoor tables chatting as if they belonged, as if this was their home. Open conversation in clique groups of 5 or 6 melded into one voice; anticipation as if the home itself was about to deliver the most profound speech of how to live a life with dignity & humility.  You could almost see her extend her giant kind arms, scooping up the crowd and holding them to her breast in an embrace so familiar a warmth ignites and wakes you up.

Auctioneer Dean Philips from McEwing Partners was like an 18-year-old on his birthday knowing mum and dad had bought him his first car.  He’d snuck into the garage the night before, pulled back the tarp exposing his vehicle of freedom. He just couldn’t wait to perform his duties.  Dean first approached the owners 12 years ago and continued his quest for the opportunity to market and sell this home and Saturday morning turned on a stunner for him to ply his trade. The crowd of 50 or more, stood in an amphitheatre configuration; Dean called for an opening and immediately a bid of $2.2Million can from somewhere in the crowd.  A pregnant pause; a hush and then $2.3 from the right-hand side, $2.4 from the left, the first bidder was out, this was a 2 horse race Our Waverly Star V Bonecrusher in the 1986 Cox Plate; strap in this is going to be fun. $5k rises and few questions from the left asking if the home was on the market. “We’re not there yet, but a couple more bids from you and you’ll never know”; the bidding hit $2.7M and Dean declared; “I’m selling the home today”, the bids continued; 2K, counter punch $2.5K and soon she was at $2.8 and everything changed.  The next bid, from the lady on the right was $1,000.  “One thousand? I’ll take that same opportunity to you on the left” and up she went in $1K bids to $2.811, the lady on the right kept going in $1k bids; the younger gentleman on the left trying to knock her out with the odd $2.5 – $5K bid but she wasn’t going away, nor was she intimidated.   She was standing her ground, she had a strategy and it was working, she was now countering with $500 rises. Dean was working hard, trying to keep up with $500 bids on a price that was now at $2.902500, it was like watching a Frenchman interpret Chinese arithmetic to a crowd of Greek tourists.  The crowd was getting a little agitated; I felt the majority were on the side of the younger man; he was making larger bids, bids I guess associated with this type of property, “$500 bids really, what is she thinking”.  He came back again hard and with another $2k bid and this time she countered, after a small delay, a pause, she had everybody including Dean thinking she might be gone, but no she was far from gone, $100 she said.  $100 Dean confirmed, and the crowd began to think she was turning this into a circus. Maybe but she had the highest bid.  He came back and she counted again $100 she nodded; and the crowd was now getting agitated; but no one else was bidding, she was in control and eventually with clever $100 bids she wore down her opposition and when the hammer fell she held the highest bid and won the battle.  It was a masterclass and she thoroughly deserved her victory.  The auction lasted 45minutes and Dean did a wonderful job for his vendor and the audience.  It was great stuff and one of the most entertaining auctions I’ve been to.

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