Des & Dawn Lindberg - Have home, will travel
Des and Dawn have gone from 1960s folk to 2006 fabulous (as anyone who saw Dawn in her stage show Sex, Tango and Everything Else will testify) and although they’ve globetrotted their brand of entertainment extensively locally and overseas, home remained fairly constant for 35 years. At least in respect of the first ‘bricks and mortar’ home they ever owned. However, their first real home was a state-of-the-art, 5.49m Jurgens caravan, bought for the princely sum of R4 000 shortly after they were married in 1965 and which was home for three years.

‘It had mod cons very advanced for its time,’ explains Dawn. ‘This first home was a far cry from Trailer Park Trash! It was fully equipped with battery-powered fluorescent lighting, a double bed and cosy "lounge", a kitchenette and even a "toilette".

‘We bought it because we were travelling all over South Africa and Zim (then Rhodesia) with our folk show, Folk on Trek. We played in every little town and dorp on the map including all 16 Rietfonteins! We’d travel all day, arrive, set up the show (we carried all our own lighting and sound equipment) perform non-stop for 2½ hours with our two guitars, then have a party with the organisers after the show before falling into bed around midnight.’

It would then be an early breakfast in the morning and on to another venue, accompanied by their cats, Buffy and Vandy – the latter of whom decided to venture out on her own trek while at a caravan park in Sabie: ‘We thought we’d lost her!’ exclaims Dawn. ‘We put a story in the local newspaper, pasted posters in the village and the whole town was on alert for her while we went sadly on up the Long Tom Pass to Lydenburg. But on our arrival we received a telegram (no SMS in those days!) to say she’d been found high up a tree with a commanding view of the post office, where our ‘LOST’ posters were displayed. Thank goodness we’d taught her how to read!’

Des remembers the joys of being true gypsies, as well as the hospitality the couple encountered during their travels: ‘All the people in those small towns you can’t even find on the map... the audiences, the braais after the shows, the amazing countryside we drove through for months and the beautiful places we were lucky enough to visit.’

Eventually, though, the caravan was parked on Dawn’s mom’s plot at Blue Hills while the couple went abroad for a year. Returning to South Africa, Dawn realised both her hormones and body clock had gone into overdrive along with the need to ‘nest’. So the

couple searched for a home with four walls instead of four gears: ‘I had a passion for the historic old houses that the old Joburg municipality were so busy tearing down,’ says Dawn. ‘I spent six months looking and then one day an agent took me to a house on Houghton Ridge. I took one look at the view and fell in love. Des took one look at the wine cellar and was sold!’

According to Dawn, the couple ‘made’ their firstborn Joshua on their first night in their new home – and second son Adam as soon after as was decently possible.

The five-bedroomed, four-bathroomed Houghton house was bought by Des and Dawn for R60 000 in 1971, but the couple estimate that over the 35 years they lived there they must have spent close to R4-million on renovations, restorations, repairs and improvements.

‘The house was a true Victorian, colonial, Randlord-style mansion built in 1903, with high, pressed steel ceilings, fire places galore, Oregon pine floors and large, lofty spacious rooms,’ explains Dawn. ‘This house had it all, and most especially, a beautiful wood-panelled reception hall that seated 100 people for our Sunday night soirées and around 60 for sit-down corporate dinners.’

The soirées were the most memorable in town at the time with artistes such as Johnny Clegg, Sipho ‘Hotsticks’ Mabusa, Hugh Masekela, Tessa Ziegler, Mark Banks, the Soweto String Quartet, Amanda Strydom, Abigail Kubeka and the entire Drakensburg Boys Choir in attendance. ‘And thousands more,’ adds Dawn. ‘You don’t get luckier than to have wonderfully talented people performing every week in your lounge.’

And then of course, there was Mr Levy, the resident ghost. ‘He lived in Adam’s room,’ says Dawn, who adds contemplatively: ‘Should we have warned the new owners?’

Finally, though, the time came for the family to sell. ‘It was time to move on to a new chapter in our lives,’ says Dawn. ‘I needed to be more private. And the boys have both flown the coop and are both married and building careers and families. Also, the maintenance and upkeep of a Grand Old Lady of 104 is enormously expensive!’

Home today is a charming house with a secluded leafy garden in Parktown North, where the couple have instilled both the best memories and the best parts of their old Houghton Ridge home. ‘Oh yes; the warmth, the open spaces and large windows, the light and the charm,’ says Dawn.

‘We have space for all my most loved antiques and paintings, my persian rugs and kelims. Des has a north-facing room for his studio and I have a cottage in the garden for my office/studio. So we have the space we need, but it’s more compact and intimate, and above all private. Very soothing! We both love it.’

Words: Carola Koblitz Photography: Anthony Salmon