I GREW up on a dairy farm in the northwestern suburbs of Sydney, and yes; thank you for pointing out if we'd kept our hundred acres they'd be worth about a gazillion dollars now. Hindsight makes everyone a genius.
We had a long dirt driveway, maybe a kilometre, that wound its lazy way up a hill; rather memorably my dad once set fire to some blackberry bushes at the base of that hill in the middle of a drought.
Dad was prone to doing things like that; he once insisted on clearing the long grass from the vacant block next door to my brother's first house with the help of a can of mower fuel and a match.
All well and good except when the wind changed and pushed the flames toward the just-finished-that-day house, it nearly ended in tears when the family firebug ran for the hose only to discover the water hadn't been connected yet.
But I digress.
That driveway, as farm accesses often do, suffered from an overload of cow poo, mud and traffic so twice a year Dad would make a phone call and three or four tip trucks would arrive and dump a few loads of dry fill to help form a roadbase.
We drove back and forth on it every day with the windows down (no air conditioning back then) and, when we were bored, my sister and I would go and sit in the grass nearby and play with the long silky pale-blue fibres, pulling them apart and building little piles with them.
It was only later that we found out Dad had been buying asbestos tailings. Well then.
Fast forward a few years and I am facing a major bathroom renovation in the house I bought earlier this year.
It was built in the mid-80s, an era not known for its good design; thus the red acrylic bath I have mentioned here previously is to be ripped out, along with the ruined vanity (apparently 80s plumbing wasn't too flash either) and the clunky sliding shower screen.
While gathering quotes I was a bit distressed when a tradie knocked knowingly on the bathroom wall and said, "there'll be asbestos in that, you know."
No, I didn't.
Thus it was I found myself kitted out in safety goggles, P3 mask and latex gloves while I attempted to remove a portion of the wall to be tested.
Following the instructions I found on the internet yielded not a scrap; after hours of frustration I dropped my bundle and whacked it with a hammer, then attacked the hole with a pair of pliers in a cloud of dust.
Not quite what the experts suggested.
Happily the test came back negative.
I'm sure my father would have approved.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.