The cubby house

Peter Leith is 90 and has seen a lot of the world and myriad changes – many good, some bad. Here, he reflects on an essential feature in any dinkum Aussie backyard.


Sixty years ago, it was almost part of the wedding vows that any self-respecting Aussie dad would build his kids a cubby house.

Even before you bought or built your first home you just had to make a cubby for your first-born child as soon as he or she could toddle.

If you could not afford a couple of old packing cases, some old, heavy-duty cardboard cartons were an acceptable starter. Opened up, stapled or stitched together, they provided a den into which your first-born could toddle.

As time went by and more cartons (and children) became available, the cubby house could, and did, expand and become multi-roomed and even developed a gabled roof!

The pinnacle of cubby house possession for our daughters came when I had ascended the corporate ladder to a point where I was able to obtain a used motor car crate! A real door, a gabled roof and multiple windows! The three little girls became the ‘ladies of the manor’.

When we were all transferred interstate, I think the thing that they missed most for a couple of months was their cubby house.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

Did your children have a cubby house? Was it elaborate with a gabled roof or did you opt for a more down-to-earth dwelling?

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Written by Peter Leith

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