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  • The three-storey house is nestled in a tick­ets of trees and over­grown shrubbery 

Over the hill and not too far away sits a beau­ti­fully haunt­ing house in the middle of New­town. The his­tor­ic man­sion has been trans­formed into a much-loved and well-known stu­dent flat, cur­rently occu­pied by a bust­ling group of cre­at­ives. Megan Dieud­onne and her flat­mate Dav­id Tap­penden have been enjoy­ing the expans­ive house since early last year, while new addi­tions Ema Richards, Thom Kelly, Jeremy Hunter and Josephine Jeli­cich joined the ranks in 2014.

The house — dubbed ‘The Cross­roads’ by a wooden sign on the front door — is three storeys high, with seem­ingly count­less rooms, six of which are occu­pied by the flat­mates. In the early 1960s, the spa­cious house was used as a nurses’ hostel due to its close prox­im­ity to the Wel­ling­ton mater­nity hos­pit­al. The Cross­roads brings out the best in its com­munity and was lucky enough to have a loc­al Ber­ham­pore car­penter offer to restore the door and stair­case using old recycled wood.

The first thing you notice when walk­ing down the short path towards the house is a huge man-made amphi­theatre, dug into the bank of the front yard. Although it hasn’t had much use in recent years, Megan recalls bands play­ing in the space at the bot­tom, sur­roun­ded by twink­ling fairy lights. The 2013 flat­mates decided to get resource­ful and build a rope swing from one of the trees over­hanging the bank, with mixed res­ults, explains Megan: “It was super unsafe at parties — there were cut heads, all sorts. One girl went fly­ing and was limp­ing for weeks!”

The flat­mates have back­grounds in fine arts, pho­to­graphy, tex­tiles and music, so it is no sur­prise that there is always some­thing inter­est­ing going on. The lounge area is hardly a lounge at all, as it’s used to store home-brew beer con­tain­ers, dry­ing racks, a $1 piano and amp­li­fi­ers left behind from pre­vi­ous flat parties. Count­less loc­al bands have played in the lounge, includ­ing Thom’s psy­che­del­ic rock band, Oli­go­cene Drown­ing, and Mel­bourne band Pales. The room is a great spot to host bands as the win­dows open out to face the front yard. [I can vouch for this as these guys are my next-door neigh­bours — Ed.] 

The house has a fant­ast­ic vibe, one of the many reas­ons Megan wanted to move in — plus it’s in a great loc­a­tion for the six stu­dents, who like to ride their bikes into the city. Lucky for her, the pre­vi­ous flat­mates were look­ing for anoth­er girl to join the flat, so she got the last spot! Handy to bus stops and shops, the New­town house is also close to the Sat­urday mar­kets, which provide a great oppor­tun­ity for fresh and afford­able loc­al pro­duce. Exter­i­or renov­a­tions are gradu­ally under­way, one side of the house at a time, so there is no doubt that this his­tor­ic flat will be loved by stu­dents for years to come.

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