Sticky Beak: A little bit of Indonesia right here in Geraldton
We are getting nosy about creative architecture and out-there home decorating in our new series, Sticky Beak. Join us as we peer behind the walls of some of Geraldton’s most noteworthy homes — and it could even inspire you to make the most of where you live.
Tucked away within rows of prototypical Aussie homes — built from weatherboard or exposed brick — sits a homage to one family’s Indonesian paradise, bursting with tropical plants and character.
To take one step through Steve and Sri Morgan’s front gate is to be submerged in another world, which is a glorious mishmash of Balinese-Buddist motifs, Javanese teak carvings and true-blue embellishments.
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Tropical plants close in the front garden, making it feel a few percentage points more humid inside than on the street.
While most homes I enter these days strive for minimalist chic, almost every piece of furniture Mr Morgan owns features intricate carvings of birds, dragons and nature-inspired shapes.
The backyard has a large undercover area, a generouly sized grassy patch, and a “Bali hut”, complete with bamboo fencing, thatched roofing, and a hanging West Coast Eagles scarf.
Mr Morgan blames his Aquarian sun sign for his near-obsessive creative spark, which flows out of him like a waterfall when he speaks about his passion for home-making, Javanese furniture, and getting his hands dirty.
“I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I will anyway,” he said. “I’ve done all this myself. I built the Bali hut from the ground up. Half the fun is doing it yourself.”
Mr Morgan has travelled to Indonesia more than 30 times since he first escaped the Australian winter with his twin brother in 1994, falling in love with the imagination and artistry embedded in the culture.
“Especially with the carving and the amount of time that goes into it,” he said.
“As far as I am aware, none of it is done with any machinery ... (furniture makers) actually do it and it’s all done meticulously with chisels. It’s absolutely incredible ... the creativity is beautiful.”
Indonesia is special to Mr Morgan for more reasons than one.
It is the backdrop of treasured memories he has shared with his twin brother John. The pair of Aquarians have spent countless hours cooking up kooky ideas over a cold Bintang beer in the sticky Balinese heat. Now, with international borders indefinitely closed, Mr Morgan says his backyard is the next best thing.
“You can even buy Bintang in Geraldton. We sit here and toast the memories of Bali,” he said.
“When you come out here on a spring day, you just feel as though you are there.”
Indonesia is also where he met his wife Sri, a Javanese woman who has built a daycare business in Geraldton and is well liked in the community by both parents and their little ones.
Mr Morgan said his Indonesian tribute was a “doubled-edged sword” for his wife, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that separates her from her family.
“You know that old saying: ‘there’s no place like home’,” he said. “It can either make her feel at home, or it can make her pine for home.”
The couple own a plot of land in Mrs Morgan’s home town Jepara, 180km north of Yogyakarta in Java. “The next thing on the agenda is getting Tuti (Mrs Morgan’s nickname) home and back to her family,” Mr Morgan said.
They plan to move there once they retire, hoping the giant spanner the pandemic has thrown into the works of their lives will have been extracted by then.
Mr Morgan dreams of building their future home with his own hands, saying it’s the most rewarding way to go about it.
“When I was a young bloke, I couldn’t keep plastic flowers alive — look at me now,” he said.
“It’s like everything. You learn from your mistakes, and if I can do it, anyone can.”
Do you have a home worth a sticky beak? Whether it’s a creative build concept, a showstopping outdoor entertaining area or a passion for thematic decorating, we are keen to have a look. Send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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