Murmurings burbled among the several Melbourne Uni alumni inside London’s City of Westminister Magistrates’ Court when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange listed his address as “177 Grattan Street, Parkville”.
Assange, who clearly meant “Carlton” (Parkville begins west of Royal Parade), initially refused to name an abode. But after consulting with his legal team, he fingered the modest terrace opposite the postgraduate centre and next door to the Lowitja Institute in the leafy education precinct.
This morning, 177 Grattan drew a baying media scrum, with hacks hammering on the door in the hope that Julian’s son, Daniel, might be home (we’re pretty sure he doesn’t live there). Photos and yelled questions were posed to one resident, who scampered away in disgust.
According to University of Melbourne property services, the building, which has a “24-hour video surveillance” sticker attached to it, is not owned by the university, and appears to be a private rental.
Photo courtesy of Greg Lehey
The residence seems to be shrouded in intrigue. Crikey contacted the son of the former owner, Greg “Groggy” Lehey, a retired Linux computer hacker who lived there from the early 1950s. He described the single-fronted, two-bedroom terrace as a “really tiny little place”, and said his father had been forced to renovate the balcony to add an extra sunroom. However, Lehey said he had never met with Assange in the flesh and wasn’t aware of his recent trip Down Under.
Crikey understands that Assange may have stayed in the house during his visit to Melbourne in June. Maurice Blackburn lawyer Lizzie O’Shea, who was in contact with the Cablegate star at the time, said she wasn’t sure where Assange was staying, but that she remembered him heading in the direction of Grattan Street after they parted ways one night.
Amusingly, political cabaret and stand-up comedy star Suzanne Ingleton, in this interview published on the Melbourne University Student Theatre website, describes sitting upstairs at 177 sewing costumes for a union production of Hamlet in the room built by Lehey’s father. Ingleton was also a signatory to this open letter, co-authored by O’Shea on the ABC Unleashed website, calling on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to properly protect Assange under Australian law.
However, Ingleton said she wasn’t on personal terms with the publishing renegade, describing the Grattan Street link as a “total coincidence”.