It was under the shadow of the holy Christian site Mount Athos that Maree Pavloudis built her life.
Leaving Goulburn at the age of 11, she moved from city to city in Australia with her Greek family for a few years before, in 1980, they took her back to their home of Halkidiki, a trident-shaped fork of land jutting out into the Aegean Sea. On a clear day the 17-year-old would look out at the "Holy Mountain" looming large across the water and the World Heritage-listed monasteries that had dotted its cliffs since Byzantine times.
Within six months of arriving in Greece Maree was engaged, and children would follow. But in the back of her heart she always felt she would return to Australia one day. She just never thought it would turn out quite the way it did.
As she prepares to pack her life into boxes again and move out of the public housing property the ACT government wants to tear down, she is philosophical about the latest unexpected obstacle life has thrown in her path.
Maree is part of the largest community relocation experienced in the ACT in decades. Under the government's public housing renewal program 1288 public housing units will be bulldozed, disposed of or otherwise replaced, with more than a third of those located along the route of the tram line planned to run between Gungahlin and Civic.
By the time it is complete, the housing renewal program will likely see more people moved out of their existing homes than either the 2003 bushfires or the Mr Fluffy asbestos buyback.
From the laptop in her one-bedroom unit at the Owen Flats in Lyneham, Maree is trying hard to find a job and a way out of public housing. But with no car, and no idea yet where she'll be relocated to, it's difficult to work out which jobs to apply for.
"It's like we're in limbo. I'm looking for a job, I want to work, but I don't know where I'll be. If I get a job on the other side of the ACT, how am I going to get there? And if I lose that job because I'm so far away or spend two hours getting there, that wouldn't be good."
Less than 50m away on the other side of the road, newly built apartments stand empty, real estate agency signs dotting the lawn. But rent for those units starts at $390 a week – $324 more than Maree pays for her government-subsidised one-bedroom flat.
As she opens her brother's Facebook page looking for photos of Mount Athos, a tiny insect darts across the laptop's screen. Another disappears into a crack in the concrete wall behind her. Soon it becomes apparent the flat is full of them.
"They suddenly just came out, the cockroaches. I've been spraying them with insect sprays, I've tried Ant-Rid, it's done nothing, they just seem to keep multiplying."
On a good day, things are quiet and no one bothers her. On the bad days, she locks her door and does her best to shut out the screaming and people banging on her security screen at 2am looking for cigarettes. It's not the life she imagined she would return to, and it only took a couple of things going wrong for Maree Pavloudis to find herself going from a happy life in Greece to living alone at the Owen Flats.
"I've gone through a lot in my life. I've never been stressed out, but my GP has given me a referral to see a psychologist because I'm stressed now. I think if I move it'll be OK."
It began in 1997, when financial troubles hit the hotel her and husband Konstantinos had been happily running for years in Halkidiki.
Forced to sell due to tax debts on the business, they opened a cafe and bar in the area until Konstantinos developed cancer and, forced to breathe through a valve after having his voicebox removed, had to pull out of the day-to-day running of the business.
Maree continued on, running a cafe for four years on her own where she would delight in acting as DJ, teaching the locals how to dance to ACDC and the music she'd grown up with in rural NSW.
Illness finally took her husband in 2004, but it was the death of her eldest son Vasilis, aged 26, that convinced her it was time to leave Greece.
With an offer of a job working for her former sister-in-law she returned to Australia, but when that didn't work out she soon found herself alone, living in a caravan park in southern Canberra and unable to get a job because no one would recognise her Greek work experience.
"It was the cheapest place I could find, and I didn't really know about housing. It was one of those container things with one room. No toilet, communal showers, I was pretty scared there, especially at night."
Things seemed to improve briefly when a van with an annex and more space became available, but shortly after moving in, the owner decided to sell and within a fortnight she was homeless again. In desperation, she turned to public housing.
When her housing manager told her there was emergency accommodation available for her, she felt a sense of relief.
Contracts were signed, and a few weeks later she returned with her cousin to help carry boxes when she discovered her new home had been taken over by a stranger.
"It had been broken into, there was a squatter in there. He'd broken the bedroom door and put it on the window sill. When we went to take it down there were three used needles full of blood behind it."
Since then, there have been strangers banging on the door and fights outside. A blue sheet hung from the locked security screen door allows a little air in while keeping passers by from peering in.
After retraining at TAFE in aged care she managed to get a job at Jindalee nursing home in Narrabundah before a resident knocked her over, worsening a back injury after just seven months in the job.
Faced with the prospect of once again being relocated by circumstances beyond her control, Maree is again studying at TAFE and hopeful this move might result in something better, somewhere she doesn't have to feel scared.
"I don't go out much, I keep the door locked and I never call the police because they will know it was me and I don't want trouble."
A block away, Warren* also has a sheet over his locked security screen door. Like Maree, he wants to leave this place, but says the uncertainty of when that might happen, or where he might end up, is making him sick.
He opens a secret drawer under the television to show where he hides his gaming console. He has kept it and the rest of his most valuable possessions well hidden since an intruder broke in one day while he was home.
"Close the door," he whispers, before leaning in close. "With the shit that I've seen, unless I've got a good reason I don't leave the house, I'm too scared to leave the unit without someone looking after it."
"We are getting told one thing by Housing, another thing by the politicians saying it could be just after winter, or maybe early next year. I suffer from depression, anxiety and bipolar – the uncertainty of not knowing where I'll live is not helping."
In what has become a cruel twist of fate for some of the Northbourne Avenue precinct residents, a heritage council ruling to protect some of the buildings has thrown additional uncertainty into the government's plans to develop the area. The government has committed to preserving and adapting some of the existing public housing flats along the tram corridor, but remains in dispute with the Heritage Council over how many should be retained.
The Australian Institute of Architects describes the crumbling, cockroach-ridden buildings as "an outstanding example of architectural harmony and human scale" and, "an exemplar of the Post-War International style with elements of the Bauhaus style".
Warren has another term for them: shitholes.
ACT Shelter executive officer Travis Gilbert says Housing ACT is doing its best to give residents as much information as possible about when they'll move and what their options will be. After much debate about the costs and the money involved, he hopes the discussion is now moving more towards the welfare of the people affected.
"A lot of the discourse has been about asset recycling and taking advantage of that. Then you have people talking about public housing complexes as eye-sores and it'll be great when they're gone because they want to make the corridor more aesthetically pleasing.
"But these are people's homes, however they may look. My ultimate hope is a significant proportion of people who want to remain in the inner city are able to do so, and those with mobility issues, the elderly, are not forced out to suburbs away from the services and community linkages they need."
On a Friday morning a government vehicle pulls up at Owen Flats and begins unloading a barbecue. It's the third information session Northside Community Service has hosted at the flats. Along with the sausages and potatoes, they have also brought some answers for the small gathering of residents who have turned up.
They tell Maree and her neighbours that most residents should be out by Christmas.
That's welcome news, for now, but Maree is still doing her best to find another way out. At the age of 51, she says it's not easy to convince an employer to take her on, but she's started a course in business administration.
"Hopefully I'll be able to get some money together and rent outside of [public] housing. There's the bond of four weeks, so even if I get a job – when I get a job – it'll take a while to save that money.
"A nice place with quieter neighbours, a newer flat in better condition, that's all I want. To know I'll be there as long as I want, somewhere I can just be happy where I am."