13 May 2019

At home with Lisa Portolan

| Ashley Feraude
Lisa Portolan

Victor and I jumped in the car, packed a lunch and headed out to visit Lisa Portolan at her home in Banks. At some point Victor asked ‘are we there yet?’ and pointed at the snow on the distant mountains. Yes, it’s a long drive out from the city, but when we found ourselves staring at an urban castle perched on the side of a hill, we understood why Lisa chooses to live there.

We caught our breath after climbing the driveway before Lisa’s husband Joel opened the door with a smile and welcomed us in. From that moment the generosity flowed—first there was a stack of delicious doughnuts for us to nibble on, then green tea then even a promise of some home brew … and that’s no small offer, considering Joel runs The Pot Belly Bar in Belconnen.

Their dream home of two years is a true family paradise; very roomy, with plenty of room for their baby Gigi to enjoy. The main feature is a stunning view of mountains and valley that extend as far as you can see. The multiple split levels of the home give you a feeling that you’re in a mountain lodge. In fact, something about the distance, the view and the style of the house made me forget that I was in Canberra.

At first I surmised Lisa as a busy mum with a lovely family lifestyle—I mean forgive me but there was a baby, doggies and doughnuts… what a trifecta! But the longer we spoke, the more I discovered that she juggles an amazing amount of pursuits; she is a yoga instructor, a published writer, a high-level public service official at the Australian Institute of Sport and a PhD student at the UTS. All of a sudden I started to feel like a lazy sod and decided exactly that moment that as soon as I get home I’m going to clean the house, do the shopping and prune the hedges all while learning a new language. Actually I better master English before I move onto any other ones right?

Now back to Lisa … I think I would have worked out that she is a known writer had she not cleaned up her office, which only recently had stacks of papers and even the occasional bottle of scotch accumulated after nights spent working on recent novel. The mountain of books perched in her office were a good clue, but I was too busy looking at the view to notice.

Heading out of Lisa’s place Victor turned to me and said ‘isn’t it amazing how people can surprise us? Lisa is a powerhouse’ it sure is … so it’s really worthwhile paying attention to the details in life. I think I’ll leave you there with that semi-intellectual thought. Until next time.

Words: Ashley Feraude
Images: Victor Tawagi

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