‘Oh give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above, don’t fence me in’. So begins the Cole Porter classic that, in my youth, I thought was written about me. I lived in the same house for the first twenty years of my life. It was a stable, loving home, but right from my early days I craved open space and would escape suburbia, walking down the street, less than 200 metres, to Porritt Stadium.
It was so much more than a running track - the green expanse of the soccer fields, the little piece of bush with its well-worn track leading to distant streets, the farmland behind where cows chomped on the green grass, and the water tower, commanding, on the hill. There I would meet up with friends, and we would walk, or run, or cartwheel barefoot through the grass, dodging the bees on the clover flowers. When I was eight, it was at Porritt Stadium that my Grandfather taught me to ride a bike, and eight years later it was in the carpark that I first attempted to drive a car.
Numerous times I would climb the small service shed beside the water tower, sit on the concrete roof, and look out over the city. There, I spent hours, mulling things over, working them through and making sense of the events of the day. There, with my friends, we would chat, laugh, share stories and secrets, then go our separate ways home. There, I could lie back and just be, feeling the sun beating down, listening to the birds and cows, watching the clouds go by.
Porritt Stadium: a meeting place, a thinking place, an escape place, my green space.