News & Events

Life is too short to waste time

November 15, 2021

Catrine Berlatier is not one to waste time. Life is too short, and there is far too much to do as far as the Leith Park resident is concerned.

She arrived in the village in August this year. It was not the most auspicious starts. Only part of her belongings arrived in the move.

“For the first week, I had an oyster shucking knife for cutlery and crystal champagne flutes to drink from, no bedding or towels. But I had arrived in paradise and my apartment at View Bank is every dream come true. I already feel almost settled,” Catrine said.

She arrived in Australia with her one-year-old baby son at the start of 1984. She was working as the international coordinator for a French marketing company which was starting a joint venture ‘down under.’

Unfortunately, the job fell short of what she expected and after a couple of years she left to pursue a creative future.

She retrained as an Art and Craft teacher but in the year that she graduated, 2,000 teaching positions were scrapped in Victoria and art teachers were not in great demand. Not one to be put off, she started a new career as an art jeweler and object maker.

It was a full life making one-off sculptural pieces: jewellery, clocks, vessels, and participating in many exhibitions. She also worked in Darebin City Council’s art department organising art events and curating exhibitions. She set up and ran a community art centre in Preston, organised community festivals, ran community classes and workshops, founded a French choir and was a founding member of a housing cooperative.

She left for France in 2003 to farewell her father, and stayed for two years. Broke, she left for China and found a job teaching French and English at Wuhan University.

“Every bit of free time I had, I used to travel everywhere in China and South-East Asia. These were probably the most enriching four years of my life,” Catrine said.

She returned to Australia to a housing commission flat in Prahran, and to finish her Bachelor of Fine Arts in gold and silversmithing at RMIT before working for a few years making contemporary jewellery.

“Although I was glad to have found the flat, after ten years I had had enough. The lack of light and private outdoor space, the presence of ice junkies and other unsavoury characters became too much,” Catrine said.

As fortune would have it, Catrine learned about Leith Park at the same time. She visited with a friend and was immediately seduced by the peaceful natural environment.

“I registered on the spot.”

Now happily ensconced in her apartment, she marvels every instant at the view from her balcony.

“The balcony is my main room. I spend my days there. I love the trees with all the varieties of colourful and very vocal birds; I love the friendliness of everyone; I love the landscaping and all the flowers,” she said.

Her first two months were spent in lockdown, limiting her opportunities to meet the other residents and join in the community activities.

“I am still finding my feet, but making the most of my time too.”

That includes finishing her family tree which goes back to the 14th century in some cases. She has nearly 5000 people, about one third with their birth, marriage and death certificates in her tree.

She is also working on her basic Mandarin, learning the characters and trying her hand at calligraphy.

And then there are the hills in and around Leith Park to keep her fit, as well as her cross trainer.

She also has plans to exhibit her luxurious wraps and shawls and contemporary embroidery, as well as returning to life drawing.

“There is still plenty to do and learn, and what better place to do it than from here, my home in Leith Park”



Evon makes it a priority to help people make the move into a village as easy as possible. She also works to ensure the new residents feel a strong sense of welcome and belonging.

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