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Home Stories: Margaret and Charles Cazabon

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Is this Home Stories’ most fascinating house yet? This week, Ashley Feraude steps inside the eclectic Barton home of Margaret and Charles Cazabon.

When Bel and I first walked into Charles and Margaret’s Barton apartment, we didn’t know where to rest our eyes—there was so much to take in. Every bit of space seemed to be occupied by something weird and wonderful.

For a second I thought I would lose photographer Bel for good when she disappeared around a corner. I began to get worried that I’d find a skeleton a week later, but sure enough she popped back out.

When it comes to accumulating objects for our home, the idea of ‘hoarding’ has quite a negative connotation, while ‘collecting’ seems like more of a noble pursuit. However, I’m sure it’s easy to cross the line when you’re really passionate and can’t say no to ‘just one more thing’.

Luckily Margaret and Charles definitely fall in the ‘collector’ inside their apartment in Barton—and their unique journey starts with a hurricane.

When Hurricane Tracy hit in 1974, Charles ended up being without teaching work. Canberra offered the solution, so the couple set up a new life in a new abode.

Margaret started working as a librarian and as the pair are keen travellers, their home became a proud display of all their overseas adventures.

That being said, the collection is now something of an adventure itself. I worked out that the trick to not get overwhelmed in amongst their treasures is to focus on the first thing that commands your attention. For Bel, it was the collection of Papua New Guinean masks; while for me, it was the Japanese print hanging on the wall.

As Margaret explains, “all these treasures represent different periods of our life. We spent eight years in Papua New Guinea before we moved to Australia and fell in love with the culture. We also spent a fair bit of time, and still do, in China—hence those bits.”

“Then our family member spent time in the Middle East, so we started that section. The truth is that this is not the half of it.”

Margaret revealed that around six years ago, she and Charles downsized from a larger home to this apartment and ended up giving half of their belongings to their daughter, and another part to friends.

But that doesn’t mean that every single piece isn’t treasured. For every object I pointed at, Margaret had an origin story, and spoke with such enthusiasm and pride. These items represent not only the history of the places in which they were bought, but also the history of Charles and Margaret and their connection to the world.

When I asked where it all started Margaret pointed to a tiny mortar and pestle. “We got this as a gift—then I purchased one more and then another to match it and…here we are.”

I wonder if that person is aware of the chain of events they started? I hope they’re proud—they’ve inadvertently given Margaret and Charles’ the perfect way to illustrate their diverse and exciting life.










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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with Canberra Outlet

Photography: Bel Combridge 

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