Sweet harbour life

Sweet harbour life TweetFacebook Fairhall home, Breakwater ApartmentsIt was while cruising Newcastle Harbour that a desire to live by its side struck Lorraine and Allen Fairhall.

Now they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

While on a boat celebrating a family birthday, the pair snapped a picture of a friend’s waterview home.

Lorraine recalls remarking later to Allen: “I’d love to live there.”

About a month later, driving down Wharf Road, they spotted a “for sale” sign out the front of the Breakwater Apartments.

The Fairhalls bought the new unit and, 13 years on, say it’s everything they were looking for.

“Now we wouldn’t live anywhere else,” Lorraine says.

The Newcastle Foreshore apartment’s views – to Nobbys headland and across the harbour – strike on entry to the open-plan lounge and dining area.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass bifold doors out to the balcony, ensure the stunning panorama is always in sight.

The Fairhalls love the outlook and the interaction with passers-by.

“There’s always something to see,” Lorraine says.

“People going past … ships.

“When the cruise ships … go past I’d make a cup of coffee and see people on the cruise ship and we’d wave to each other.

“We have a lovely view but I think it’s the intimacy of people walking past and you wave ‘how are you’.

“It’s just nice, friendly people.

“I think that’s as good as a view, if not better.”

That friendly banter extends to the kitchen, which features cream-coloured cabinetry, mirrored splashbacks, and a space to eat in by large view-enhancing windows.

A white ceramic pig has pride of place on the sill.

“We get a lot of people point up and laugh at our pig,” Lorraine says, with good humour.

Lorraine enjoys cooking, but finds herself doing less and less of it.

“Now I like going to restaurants,” she says.

“We can walk up the top of town to Pacific Street, obviously down the boardwalk here.

“It’s convenient living,” she says.

The harbour views are also present in the master bedroom, which has an ensuite.

Allen’s grandmother’s rocking chair sits beside the window.

Timber shelving that belonged to Allen’s mother is featured, as is a timber dresser that sits in front of a gold-framed wall-hung mirror.

“My granddaughter comes in here and says she feels like a princess,” Lorraine says.

Bedside tables (dubbed by the designer as “the antiques of the future”) were custom made in Sydney to match the family heirloom furnishings.

Lorraine reveals her personal tastes in a wall hanging and other artwork.

“I wanted this room to be a bit French, because I love France,” she says.

A second bedroom serves as guest quarters, and adjoins one of the apartment’s two other bathrooms.

Two remaining bedrooms are used as Lorraine and Allen’s studies.

Here their personal passions are displayed.

Lorraine’s love of English history shows in the titles lining her bookshelves.

She is especially fond of a set of two “cupid” pictures on her wall that once hung over her mother’s parents’ bed and bear watermarks from the 1955 flood.

Allen’s domain is known as “the library”.

“I’m just a bibliophile,” he says.

Australian history and the Vietnam War are favoured subjects for the book lover and war veteran.

This room also accommodates a special piece: the last mayor’s chair (which Allen had recovered) from the chambers of the former Merewether Council.

There are more beautifully-bound books on a custom-made bookcase (complete with handles salvaged from old printing industry typesetting drawers) in the hallway, and a special edition of Antarctic and Arctic photographs on a hall table.

An antique book press is another of Allen’s treasures.

He spent 40 years in the printing industry.

Wonderful pieces of art and memorabilia are placed throughout the house: from the antique diving gear in the main bathroom (“God your spa must be deep” a friend joked to the Fairhalls); to the Pro Hart sculptures in the living areas; aBallerinapainting above the lounge which reflects Lorraine’s joy at getting through a second cancer diagnosis; and a collection of historic black and white photographs of Allen’s father, a former federal minister and MP, the late Sir Allen Fairhall, alongside luminaries such as the Queen Mother, Sir Robert Menzies, Prince Charles and Lyndon Johnson, and being knighted by the Queen.

It’s an apartment that looks out on so much and holds even more within.

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