My grandparents’ house had a very long dining table in the kitchen. It ran most of the length of the kitchen. There was no dining room. The house was built after the Second World War when building supplies were still in short supply. This explains why some of the boards of the walls ran vertically and some ran horizontally.
The kitchen was the hub of the house where family sat around the table, talking until late into the night, women worked together to prepare food and men came in for “smoko” (i.e. a cup of tea and something to eat), dinner (midday meal) and tea (evening meal).
The other place to congregate was the U shaped verandah which hugged 3 sides of the house. Grandsons perched on the railings, aunts leaned over the edge to talk to uncles in the yard and the older, more sedate members sat on chairs or even snatched a rest on one of the many beds along the verandah. There were only two bedrooms so when there were overnight visitors, some of the verandah beds would probably be in use. In summer we slept under a mosquito net and in winter under a pile of thin, well-used blankets.
The large family certainly made use of the long table but it not originally been made for domestic use. The Von Harten family owned the Urbenville Hotel and a property at Koreelah. They ran into financial difficulties and asked my grandfather, Hugh McLean Mulcahy, to take over the debt and the property. My grandparents moved to the Koreelah property, leaving their home at Beaury Creek available for Hugh’s uncle Kenny McLean live in. They took some of the hotel furniture with them and lived there for a time until they were also unable to meet the debt repayments.
Along with the table went a number of chairs, including two carvers. There was also a sideboard and what was known in the family as the “dinner wagon”. I imagine that it was used as a buffet in the hotel. In my day it displayed framed photographs.
There had been a long couch which matched the chairs. It met its demise in the scrub somewhere between Koreelah and Beaury Creek as the family made the move back, with their possessions loaded onto a dray or buckboard. The load was too heavy, they were at risk of getting bogged so the couch was thrown off into the scrub.
Afterwards, whenever they passed that spot, Ettie would say, “The couch is down there”.