Journeying close to home

I’ve finally reached the end of my extended stay in Melbourne. Originally intending to stay a week, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve been here for six!

Today I decided to go back to a spot that I’d noticed on a previous ride. A small creek I found flowing into the Plenty River that trailed off between the houses of one of the older suburbs in the area.

A forgotten path

As I followed the creek I realized that despite the large numbers of people who follow the shared cycle/walking path right past this patch of wild ground, hardly anyone had ventured along the creek in a very long time. I found a faint path that could barely be seen through the shrubs and sedges that enveloped the gorge.

I discovered this had once been a walking trail but it had been neglected and forgotten. It had the feel of a secret place, I was so surprised to find this secluded little pocket of land unvisited. It reminded me of the creek that used to flow at the end of my street, now completely enclosed with a concrete drain and built over with housing development. I hope this place remains un touched.

A bridge to nowhere

Following the faint path, even in muddy patches, I found no footprints. There was no sign that anyone had walked this way for a long time. Adjoining properties had gates leading to the creek but it seemed nobody had bothered to venture into the messy scrub for years.

Was it so different before?

Though the land was full of weeds, introduced plants and trash washed down street drains, there remained a wildness about it that gave a hint of the world that existed before we trespassed in the Plenty Valley. The creek itself possibly retained the same geological structure that appeared to the first Europeans who came this way, the same place in essence as was known by Wurundjeri people who had always lived here. (I imagined it so)

I clambered and scraped my way as far as I could go. The path and the creek narrowed considerably upstream and the prickly blackberry bushes made it too difficult to proceed without ripping my clothes and skin to shreds. I decided finally to turn around and head back down stream. I felt a sense of joy and freedom having discovered this place. It’s not the only forgotten space in the middle of suburbia. There are so many really. The little weedy corners, where birds take refuge and straying moggies stalk. Seeds take root and remnants of what was once common clings to the soil in a breathless space, vulnerable to the whims of town planners and developers but secure in it’s isolation for now. Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

An iron gate leading to a collapsed bridge, on this path, None Shall Pass!

I made a bit of a video to show some of the sights I’ll try to embed here, otherwise just follow the link and you can see it on Youtube.

Oh yeah… The weeds. So I cannot begin to identify all the weeds, there are so many! Vines, grasses, trees. Weeds of every variety.

Three cornered garlic

One of the most obvious weeds I’ve been seeing lately is the Three-cornered garlic (Allium triquetrum). The scent is very strong, it is flowering right now and can be found along the banks of the Plenty River extensively! Apparently it’s edible. This will be my next learning experience. To be able to identify the edible weeds wherever I am an learn how to prepare and consume them!

Arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) Definitely not edible. It is classed as a weed and is poisonous

Tread light, go far, rest much.

September 1 Wattle Day

Today 1st of September is National Wattle day in Australia.

Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha)

Acacias commonly known as Wattles are a diverse genus of trees and shrubs found throughout Australia in every imaginable habitat.

Here’s a quick post before midnight National Wattle Day 2021.

Today I woke with a headache… feeling low, I realized I have barely ventured outside in three days! I have been working from home during lockdown, sitting on my bed with a laptop for too long, drinking too much coffee, no fresh air. I realized I am really beginning to crack. As I started writing this post I checked the date and realized I’ve been stuck here for nearly a month! Lockdown started on the 4th August!

So why wattles? Well because they’re a common sight in Australia, when they are in bloom toward the end of winter they make the place look spectacular, they have been in bloom since I arrived nearly a month ago. The Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnanthais) is actually Australia’s national Floral Emblem. There was a bit of argybargy back in the 1800s between some botanists the Golden wattle was in competition with the Waratah (which is actually an endemic species and possibly more appropriate but they’re only found around NSW, which is probably a bit too specific) The advocates for the wattle won out way back then and the Golden Wattle has been considered our national floral ever since.

Acacias aren’t specific to Australia, but we sure do have a lot of them. Unfortunately for the rest of the world Australian wattles have become a noxious weed in many parts of the world. In their home territory they are an important colonizing, habitat, food source and when in bloom they turn green valleys into gold.

SO. The Golden wattle has been the national flower since before federation but wasn’t officially named the National Floral Emblem until 1st September 1988. The national colours have been considered Green and Gold for ages… how long? I dunno, little bit long time I reckon. (I didn’t have time to check all sources but I reckon as far back as federation also) This was officially decreed by Governor-General of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen in 1984 on the say so from old mate Bob Hawke (May he rest in peace).

The gold represents the Golden Wattle which was obviously already, unofficially, the inflorescence of the Nation and the Green…. ? Errr…. I don’t know, probably the leaves of the same plant? It’s the colour of the Baggy Green hat cricketers used to wear… I don’t know what came first the National Colour or the Hat… Maybe a topic for another post.

Whatever the official process for recognizing these things, Green and Gold have long been the unofficial colours of Australia, as everyone should already know, most Australians are far more loyal to our unofficial icons! (Green and Gold were loved unofficially first, which would have given Mr Hawke license to enshrine the colours with approval of the adoring fandom of his constituents.

I think what cemented Green and Gold with Hawkie and the Nation was that boxing kangaroo flown on the that famous Ausie symbol of pride in the 80s, Australia II, the maxi yacht owned by the Legendary Ausie business hero Mr Alan Bond that just happened to win the America’s cup and secured Australian Superiority over America and the world for eternity and for ever, fingers crossed dibs, no returns!

Australia II (courtesy of http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-07)

It was a ‘Golden’ Age for Australia, sticking it to the Yanks and brother Bob galvanized the nation making this classic statement on TV Live: “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”, (former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke – Legend!)

His mate Mr Alan Bond got himself into a little bit of trouble down the track for his overzealous business dealings. Never mind, in the 80s it was all the rage.

So today I realized I hadn’t been outside for more than a few minutes in three days! My head was thumping and I was feeling really disoriented. Inside is not a man’s natural environment! I cannot bear it for too long at all… So I decided to go for a ride along Karrum Yallock (Plenty River), downstream through the settled areas of Greensborough, Partington Flat etc… There are cycle paths going for miles following the Plenty and Yarra rivers, all the way into the city and upstream as well. One day we can go on a bit of tour that way if you’re keen.

Back to the Wattles… So on my ride today I took a few photos of various wattles I saw along the way. I hope you like them.

Photos from Karrum Yallok (Plenty River)

THE RIVER

And I behold once more
My old familiar haunts; here the blue river,
The same blue wonder that my infant eye
Admired, sage doubting whence the traveller came,—
Whence brought his sunny bubbles ere he washed
The fragrant flag-roots in my father’s fields,
And where thereafter in the world he went.
Look, here he is, unaltered, save that now
He hath broke his banks and flooded all the vales
With his redundant waves.
Here is the rock where, yet a simple child,
I caught with bended pin my earliest fish,
Much triumphing, —and these the fields
Over whose flowers I chased the butterfly,
A blooming hunter of a fairy fine.
And hark! where overhead the ancient crows
Hold their sour conversation in the sky:—
These are the same, but I am not the same,
But wiser than I was, and wise enough
Not to regret the changes, tho’ they cost
Me many a sigh. Oh, call not Nature dumb;
These trees and stones are audible to me,
These idle flowers, that tremble in the wind,
I understand their faery syllables,
And all their sad significance. The wind,
That rustles down the well-known forest road—
It hath a sound more eloquent than speech.
The stream, the trees, the grass, the sighing wind,
All of them utter sounds of ’monishment
And grave parental love.
They are not of our race, they seem to say,
And yet have knowledge of our moral race,
And somewhat of majestic sympathy,
Something of pity for the puny clay,
That holds and boasts the immeasurable mind.
I feel as I were welcome to these trees
After long months of weary wandering,
Acknowledged by their hospitable boughs;
They know me as their son, for side by side,
They were coeval with my ancestors,
Adorned with them my country’s primitive times,
And soon may give my dust their funeral shade.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882)

A short walk up the creek

Venturing up Coulstocks creek, a tributary of Kurrum Yallock (Plenty River).

While having a look around Coulstocks Mill a couple of weeks ago I noticed how clean the water flowing down the adjoining creek appeared to be. I was conscious that there had been a lot of development in the area and was surprised to see clear water flowing. The records I’d read described it as Coulstocks creek but current maps indicate a name change to University Hill Creek. I remember the creek as an extremely steep gully that trails back and into the private property of the Janefield Compound. I recall seeing a small dam years ago while visiting a friend who lived in the staff residence but hadn’t been back to that part of Janefield since.

Archive photo of Janefield

Janefield was one of those old school institutions set up in the early 20th century. The buildings, like Mont Park, probably hold a lot of ghosts, institutions that housed so many vulnerable people often have many secrets? As with Mont Park several buildings may have been demolished but those remaining have been repurposed and don’t look too shabby now.

Photo of historic Janefield building August 2021

I hadn’t explored the Janefield estate since the institution had closed. The area now known as University Hill, has been subdivided to provide medium/high density living for Students attending RMIT and Latrobe University. I had heard about the ponds and felt compelled to take a look.

Intersection of Coulstocks Creek and Plenty River (Karrum Yalluk)
Map, including rambling path
The journey logged 3km. Green dot – starting point, Checker flag – convergence of Coulstocks creek with Plenty River (Karrum Yallok)

Rather than begin at the Site of the Mill I began upstream at the Janefield Wetlands. Suburban roads that remain in my memory as horse paddocks brought me to the abominable BMW showroom opposite the first set of ponds. Following the small network of drains and man made overflow ponds I found my way to the natural water course. Unsurprisingly the water was dirty and full of plastic refuse. It had the familiar smell that often accompanies urban drains, a mixture of stagnant water and putrid black mud.

Each pond had a spillway that allowed water and debris to fall into a catchment drain then flow on to the next pond. Is was disappointing to see there were no nets set across the inlet points to catch plastics and other material that had washed through the drainage system. It appeared the only thing preventing hard waste from travelling downstream was the reed beds, which were obviously clogged with plastic bottles and fragments of trash.

When I came to the next tributary I followed it to the left and found an artificial river bottom had been created with quite large rocks, good planning. By developing the area and increasing hard surfaces such as roads and roofs water velocity would definitely be increased, erosion mitigation would have been a priority of developers for insurance reasons as much as environmental protection.

I soon came out at a well designed pathway and entry to a larger pond system. It was quite impressive and well designed for slowing the flow of storm water into the creek system, however I found not enough effort had been put into preventing contaminants from entering the ponds, the edges had quite a dense accumulation of debris.

Satellite images from 2005 – 2020

Walking around the ‘wetland’ I was impressed to see water fowl and reed beds. Though it was not perfect, it was very pleasing to see that some effort had been made to create (save) habitat for wildlife and to allow open space for people to enjoy. I sat for a while and contemplated the alternatives… This was quite dense urban living, but it had been designed in a way that centres around the natural environment. There is opportunity for people to leave their cells and wander about in nature. I compared this to the large acreage that many people seek. Is this worse than individuals taking up large sections of land, locking others out and pushing urban sprawl so much further into the natural environment?

Inevitably, as with most parkland and natural spaces close to suburbia, I found all the telltale signs of people who use and abuse their environment with no regard for aesthetics, or the wellbeing of the the environment or other people. Littered under trees at multiple sites I found empty bottles, used condom packets and scattered dirty toilet paper. I guess it goes with the territory.

filthy used bog roll… (Ho Hum)

At the lower end of the ponds there was some fairly industrial looking infrastructure which I imagined would have something to do with storm water and pollution mitigation.

As I continued downstream smaller drains emptied into the creek at various levels. I recall there had been a bluestone filtration system built into this creek years ago, it appeared to have been demolished now, but there remained a thick bed of cumbungi reeds which would definitely work to reduce contaminants flowing downstream.

I re-entered the Plenty Gorge Parkland and all developer related infrastructure disappeared. I followed the creek line, as it had come to be after various waves of Non Indigenous occupation. My understanding of this site is that it has been under management of a variety of owners or management over the past 180 years… After Coulstocks came farmers, Henry Miller and John Brodie Brock. Sometime later the land had been used by RAAF and Janefield… Though I don’t know the full history, it is pretty obvious, the land was cleared, vary little native vegetation has survived, weeds have settled into the gully and some rather old junk can be found. These deep gullies often became the resting place for a lot of household or farm junk. Fortunately Coulstocks Creek doesn’t have a great deal of trash in it.

It was quite difficult to follow the creek the whole, I eventually changed my mind, preferring not to get wet feet. It is definitely possible to walk it but the edges are very steep and the clay can be crumbly and slippery. Not wishing to cause any unnecessary erosion or to get too muddy, I decided to climb up out of the narrow chasm I found myself in… It was trickier than I imagined.

To my knowledge and as far back as I can remember, this gully had been full with blackberry bushes and sharp shrubs, until the 2020 fires it is unlikely anyone ventured along the creek during the previous 30 years.

The City of Whittlesea Stormwater Management Plan 2012-2017 describes the Plenty River catchment as being of very high biodiversity value, but identifies several high risk factors. Those factors are obviously human impact and will require financial and legal commitment in order to protect these habitats. Primarily large scale development is an immediate threat to the area. Industrial waste is particularly toxic, the source can be difficult to locate and polluters are difficult to manage.

I have mixed feelings about the prospects of improving water quality in this creek and the Plenty River. Increasing population and industry in the area are a real threat, however, during lockdown many people are venturing outside in their own neighborhoods. People are getting up close and personal with their environment and may begin to engage more fully with the land. They may see how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful place and begin to take an interest in reducing human impact on the space. While I was there I noticed a council truck removing tree waste.

This park is a significant part of the waterway and will contribute to the health of the River downstream. I imagine if there were a local landcare group it would be able to get a lot done to protect the creek. Pollution could be greatly reduced if community and council cooperated to clean up the existing waste and set about installing nets across drains to catch debris. Already there is tree planting on the upper slopes of the gully.

Arial photos and satellite images allow us to see the changes in landscapes over decades. I often imagine the land becoming devoid of trees but in fact there are places that have much more vegetation than existed 50 years ago. It all comes down to the interest and will of the people. It may be foolish to hope… but I do believe it is possible, and as they say ” Where there is life…”, regardless of the naivety of the, dreamer, “…There is hope!”

Resources:

City of Whittlesea Stormwater Management Plan 2012-2017 https://www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/media/1239/stormwater-management-plan-2012-17.pdf

Suburban Parks Program – Plenty River Trail COMMUNITY CONSULTATION PACKAGE: https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/6616/2320/4960/Kurrum_Yallock_-_Plenty_River_Community_Consultation_Package_small.pdf

First People’s Assembly of Victoria website: https://www.firstpeoplesvic.org/

Coulstocks Mill: A quick look

Passing the baton.

It’s a tricky space I find myself in. Returning to the town of my birth, the place I grew up. Searching for connection, for remnants of a life past, for belonging in the places of my past. Seeking reality shrouded in memory, legend, tales told between friends, hyperbole around the camp fire.

A quarter of a century ago, when I left my family home in the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne to travel, I never imagined the changes that would occur while I was gone. Back then everyone was moving to Sunny Queensland, It was not so likely that townships like Mernda (Formerly Morang), South Morang and Doreen would ever be considered within the scope of urban sprawl. The ancient Redgums that spread along the Basalt plains from Mill Park to the foot of the Great Divide would, in my mind, always be considered unnecessarily far from the concrete jungle that was Melbourne. The urbanites, football fanatics and poker machine addicts would never wander so far afield… I WAS WRONG.

Plenty Gorge / Bundoora / Mill Park

When I arrived at my parents place it was the eve of yet another covid lockdown. My plans to visit friends and relatives were foiled. The order was. No unnecessary travel, we can leave the house for groceries and one hour of outdoor exercise per day with a distance limit of 5km! Woah! I had just travelled over 5,000 km through three states, through Kakadu, Uluru, urban and rural South Australia, enjoying the company of old friends along the way… This was going to bight! What could I do?

As it happened a neighbor had recently told my folks about the re-discovery of an old Mill down in the plenty gorge… only about 3km from my home! As a teenager I spent most of my days in that small patch of bushland, fishing, hunting rabbits, boozing around the fire, I thought I’d explored every nook and cranny. I knew the old gold mines, I knew the quarries and the farms. I had never heard of the ruins of any mill!

Coulstocks Mill – Image courtesy of WikiNorthia https://wikinorthia.net.au/coulstocks-mill/

The mill was called Coulstock’s Mill and it had only recently been exposed due to the devastating fires that had raged through the gorge in 2020. In the 30 years I had been familiar with the area, the site of the mill was completely submerged in an impenetrable sea of blackberry bushes which filled the creek gully and expanded over a hundred meters across the mouth of Coulstocks Creek (now known as University Hill Creek)

I followed the neighbor’s directions which lead me straight to the crumbling rudiments of what had once been a functioning flour mill. The mill had been built in 1842 by wheat farmer George Coulstock who’d immigrated originally from England via Swan River W.A. then directly from Launceston, Vandiemen’s Land (Tasmania).

Coulstocks Mill – Floor joist slots visible above foundation stones

This was during the first decade of the Victorian Colony in a period described as a ‘Land Rush’. Which I find somewhat misleading yet quite telling… To describe what happened as a Rush gives me a sense that there was a vacuum in land ownership (and occupation) and people rushed in to take what was freely available… (fertile farming and grazing land). It would probably be better described as a ‘Great Land Grab’, and just like so many other Great Land Grabs was responsible for the large scale displacement of indigenous people from their Clan estates and tribal homes. (along with the disease that accompanied colonists)

Coulstock’s Mill (State Library of Victoria Picture Collection) 

Coulstocks mill was among the earliest to be constructed in the region but it didn’t last long. According to records it was  “poorly designed”, a series of unfortunate circumstances including bushfires in 1846, and the creation of Yan Yean reservoir in the headwaters of the Plenty River lead to the mill becoming unusable by 1862.

Standing on the site, where the Plenty River had once flowed far more vigorously, I imagined the people who had been there before me. I strolled along ‘Coulstocks creek’ and observed the changes that had occurred since I first came this way as a teen. I wondered how many changes had taken place on this ground before I arrived. This place that I feel a part of, where I feel most at home and connected. But who were the others, the ones before Coulstock? How did they feel standing on the dry clay and Yellowbox ridges, looking down on what was a river of plenty? How did the scent of wattle and dogwood blossoms in the cool winter air play on their senses? Did they walk knee deep in bracken and delight at bronze winged pigeons taking flight as I still do? Did they lay sleepily on the south facing hills in the damp cool moss in summer, admiring the dainty maiden hair ferns that sprout in rivulets on those steep slopes?

Who were my predecessors? I wondered as I inevitably do, “Who were the original people of this place?” What has become of their stories, their dreams, their gods and their kin?

I really do believe the big question “Who am I?” can only be considered in the context of what was before me. What is in my DNA? What Elements converge between that miracle in the breath of creation cast forward and the clay of my body. A dear friend once reminded me that everyone has a place, there is no question. Mother country, father country, grandmother country… Those places are always there, calling us to return to them. I am not suggesting that these discount the capacity for people to develop their own way of being and relating but environment must surely inform our responses to the world around us, help form our personality which inevitably will impact the choices and decisions we make.

The country on which I was born will always be within me. I am a product of the land and will always be kin to it. (If the concept of land existing in DNA is hard to swallow, then how about the persistence of memory and association with belonging.)

While trying to gather a little history of the mill I managed to read a few accounts of the brief European history in this region. It seemed obvious that over a relatively short period of time there have been so many changes to the landscape, many features would have become unrecognizable from one generation to the next… Others, particularly in the deep gullies and steep river gorges, manage to hold remnants of their original being.

In just a few generations the land has seen multiple shifts in use, who lived on the land, how it was related to and how it has been named.

First the land was here, Wurundjeri were here, settlers came in the mid 1800s less than 200 years ago, a few generations. In that time nearly all trace of the original people has been wiped from the land. Ironically scar trees appear to be the most reliable evidence of their presence.

If for no other reason Scar Trees can be held now as sacred regardless of the purpose for which they were cut. This is not to say there are no people left, there are, but I have never met them. I hope one day I might meet someone with generations immemorial of this land in their blood.

In the 200 years since the white colonizers arrived, they cleared this land that now I am grateful, is within my 5km covid travel radius. They planted wheat… dug for gold, built mills… grazed cattle, raised horses and dairy cows. Where are those things now? What names were given and forgotten in that time? In writing this post I discovered that the Mr George Coulstock purchased a parcel of land in the Parish of Morang to farm wheat, harvest by hand, mill it and raise his family from the toil and bounty he extracted. He called the farm Mill Park and it is after this place that the Suburb was named. The land could not sustain commercial wheat production, dairies and cattle are gone… Quarries were dug… The holes remain. Roads cut, some faded to grown over tracks, others now bitumen multi lane carriageways.

In 1920, 180 years after the Coulstocks arrived, the Red Cross established a training farm for tuberculosis patients on land adjacent to the river, the farm was known as the Janefield Sanitorium. It operated for 13 years and closed in 1933. In 1937 it was re-opened with a new purpose, it became known as ‘Janefield Colony’ and was used as a centre for children with physical and intellectual disabilities. Though they dropped the word ‘Colony’ from the title, it was still used for these purposes while I was growing up.

Arial photo of Janefield (Year unknown) Plenty Road on the far Left, Coulstocks creek leading from centre to middle top right
(photo courtesy of the Montpark to Springthorpe project)

From what I knew of the place it was an old school institution where kids with disabilities were sent if their parents weren’t able to look after them. It’s purpose was particularly significant to me as it was the kind of place my mother was advised she would have to send my brother when she realized she could not hope to raise a child with Down Syndrome. Many mothers would have been recommended to dump their kids in a place like that. Hope for a future was not encouraged. It seemed at that time society put a lot of stock into the idea of fluffing the pillow of people they wished to make disappear. Thus possibly begun my deep distrust of Authority. Needless to say, my brother did not get locked away in Janefield!

By the mid 1980s lobbying of advocates such as my parents and 1,000s of others saw broader community acceptance and changes in policy of people with intellectual disabilities. Changes in policy in turn lead to the decommissioning of institutions such as Janefield which was finally closed in 1996. The hope was that public amenities would adapt to the needs of all citizens and services would become more available in mainstream society through provision of the common-wealth… unfortunately what appears to have happened is, costly State funded institutions were closed down, while community based services languished for lack of funding. (Who’da thunk the 1970s enlightened altruism would lead into ensuing decades of capitalist self interest?)

As a teen ‘my’ bushland retreat was protected by the swale of land that had been set aside for the Janefield farm in its varying manifestations. Cattle were grazed, rabbits were a plenty and my mates and I stalked those fields and gullies for several years untroubled by the thought that one day it could possibly be devoured by urban sprawl.

As I look on the maps today, what was once a large green blob (Plenty gorge, Janefield etc…) now shows a network of walking trails, housing estates, man made lakes and light industrial / shopping precincts. But still I feel connected.

I bristle at the passing traffic of pedestrians, women in lycra sportwear talking on their phones, so many mountainbike riders that there appears to be a waiting list to get on some of the trails, people walking dogs, families taking their kids out for an hour of exercise during the covid lockdown. I bristle but I surrender. At least it is still here, at least they are in it? Maybe… just maybe, they will come to learn from this place and love it as I do.

I look at the stream of clear water flowing past the old Mill from Coulstocks Creek (Now known as University Hill Creek) and notice how clear it it is. I am aware that some kind of pond system has been created on University Hill. It’s a site that has been heavily developed. They must have been forced to manage storm water polution.

edf

I bent over and turned a rock in the creek. Yabbies! snails, beetles! The water quality was better than I ever remember it! Could it be there is hope for this place? My mind returns to honoring this place and the people who loved it… are they separate? Are we always linked? Is there such thing as a resurrection? What would it look like? Who will it be?

While reading up on this topic I accessed information from whatever sources I could find, mostly online and in books, some word of mouth. I discovered that place names such as Bundoora, Yan Yean and Mernda were derived from the Woi wurrung language belonging to the Wurundjeri Willum people of this region. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

I see an opportunity, while I am here, in an enforced sedentary holding pattern. I have the perfect chance to slow down, walk again with bare feet on familiar ground, familiarize myself with a history I did not know, reflect on the changes that have occurred; and imagine what future may emerge.

Some references I looked to:

Springthorpe Heritage project: https://www.montparktospringthorpe.com/janefield-a-legacy-of-caring/

Finding Records website (Janefield Colony 1937-62; Training Centre 1962-96) https://www.findingrecords.dhhs.vic.gov.au/collectionresultspage/Janefield-Colony

WikiNorthia – Coulstocks Mill: https://wikinorthia.net.au/coulstocks-mill/

City of Whittlesea – Local Aboriginal History: https://www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/about-us/our-city/local-aboriginal-history-wurundjeri-willum-people/

Victorian Collections – Eltham District Historic Societ: https://victoriancollections.net.au/items/58dc8b4bab02dd03943bd632

Melbourne the city past and present – Bundoora: https://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM00262b.htm

Wurundjeri: https://www.wurundjeri.com.au/

Edwards, Dianne Helen. (1979) The Diamond Valley story.

Garden treats

OK… Not a big one but I am compelled to write just a tad about the veggie garden.

As a kid growing up in the 70s the Sabbath and Sunday roasts were still a thing. If you wanted roast chicken you had to roast a chicken… If you wanted a fresh one, you could go to the local chook farm and choose the the one you want, pluck it, gut it, rest it then cook it. We didn’t have to do all of these things, but Macas, HJ’s and KFC weren’t yet common place and most of the shops would be closed.

I grew up with a sense that the world was moving toward a sustainable and self sufficient more natural way of life. At our place we ripped out the oil heater and burned wood in the an open fire, had a native garden, grew tons of vegetables in the back yard… (Bad memories of eating very woody Zukini…. boiled) and learned how to make mud bricks.

The GoodLife was on TV and I thought everyone was planning to ditch their jobs and weave their own levis out of armpit hair. Then the 80s came and all that hippie dippy stuf was dropped like a hot spud! I never really caught on and continued wearing flannel miller shirts and army disposal wool wear long after they became incredibly unpopular with the new wave. Everyone else was listening to Bowie while I was listening to RedGum and Wurrumpi.

So… before I wax on too much about the glorious and hopeful future (that never came to pass) Here’s a few photos of my mum’s current food garden… quite empty at the moment but still producing enough greens to supplement our meals a few times per week. Sometimes there are field mushrooms, tons of tomatoes in summer, apricots (over a brief season) and mobs of other summer veg and fruit… strawberries etc… Yum garden!

Tastes like coriander
Broad beans
Parsley
Rhubarb in the pie (was in the garden)

August in a Red Zone C19

I arrived in the North of Melbourne on Thursday evening at about 6:30 pm on the day that the Victorian Premier declared the whole of Victoria a Covid19 Red zone. As I rolled out of Ballarat I happened to try the radio, just at the time Daniel Andrews was announcing a state wide lockdown!

No travel around the state from 8pm… What extraordinary timing! I had just enough time to make it to my folks place before the door slammed behind me!

I rolled into town, filled the tank of the camper van with fuel and took her through a local car wash to remove the film of grime that had formed over the past three days of touring. I had reached the final destination of my road trip. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be doing next but heading back to Darwin was no longer on the cards… not until the lock down has ended. I took off my shoes and made myself comfortable.

I’ve been here a week, was supposed to fly out tonight but cancelled my ticket and received credit voucher for $8.75 AUD (LOL… Oh yeah I got that flight for free in the first place! How do I use an $8.75 airline voucher?)

It’s been great hanging out at my folks place without feeling like I’ve got to get out and about. If I’m going to be stuck anywhere this is not such a bad place to be… A beautiful garden full of birds and colourful plants, mum insists on cooking dinner every night… Cozy bed, wifi, a bunch of great walks within the 5km travel limit, fresh veggies and fruit, decent locally gathered honey! Cool days and nights!

I have taken a few walks down to the Plenty River and was taken by a neighbor to see an historic site that was right under my nose for 40 years and I never knew it was there! (I hope to make a more informative post about that particular site soon!)

For now, here’s some photos of my current digs especially the garden.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started