Jane and Anna are mother and daughter. They are also Airbnb co-hosts. We meet the pair in the Mosman home that has been in their family since the 1940s.
When 74-year-old Jane Mills has an Airbnb guest arriving to stay in the upstairs flat of her Mosman home, her daughter Anna awaits the inevitable phone call.
“I’ve just met them. They are lovely”. Anna laughs because her mum says this every time, more than 100 times now.
Jane, an artist and a retired art teacher, had been living in the large family home alone when Anna suggested that they list it on Airbnb five years ago. They are among a number of mother-daughter duos using the online platform together as co-hosts.
“We have got very clear role demarcations,” says Anna. She handles all of the online aspects, while Jane is the ultimate host, buying Tim Tams for guests and preparing an expertly tucked bed.
“I couldn’t do it by myself, I couldn’t cope with the online stuff,” says Jane. Anna disagrees. “She could, but I just think it’s nice for us to do it together. We like having projects together.”
They are evidently close and describe their relationship as an easy one. The only point of tension between the two, they joke, was in writing reviews. Jane would nag her daughter to write a review as soon as the guest left, calling to dictate over the phone. Now, in what they call a “radical shift”, Jane has begun to write the reviews online herself.
“It’s really good for Mum. It keeps her fit and she cares about it a lot. It’s a big part of her life,” says Anna, who lives nearby in Willoughby.
The heritage-listed home has been a constant in both of their lives. It was bought by Jane’s mother in 1947, and it was where she brought Jane home from the hospital. It’s one of the last unrenovated Federation homes in Mosman, and Jane recalls a time when all the houses on the block looked like this one, with big sprawling lawns and an apple tree out the front. As children they would run between the houses, her mother calling the kids to dinner with a cowbell that sounded out across Mosman Bay, below.
Anna’s first memories of the house were as a two-year-old, running down the side path and falling over. She remembers how sunny it was, and it still is. The pair moved into the home together, just the two of them, when Anna was 14, and later Anna and her young family lived in the flat upstairs.
“It’s got a great amount of history, this house. I love coming here because Mum is here. It’s got that nice Mum smell,” says Anna.
Photography: Jiwon Kim
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