A local bloke with an excavator business cut in the road the farm sits off. Before then, there was a road, it just wasn’t as good as the present road. The former road was an old Cobb and Co coach route which lead all the way up to the Victorian era health resort of Craigielea.
The Victorian era health resort, which is now a private residence, was constructed in the 1870’s. It’s way higher up in this part of the mountain range but nearer to the ridge-line. Meanwhile the farm is only about two thirds of the way up. The Victorians used to believe that illness was caused by bad air, or as they called it back in the day: miasma. So common sense would suggest that the cleanest air was to be found high up in the mountains. And what better place for a health resort, than just below the ridge line of a mountain range which coincidentally is near to a convenient stop on the Melbourne to Bendigo train line servicing the gold fields.
In those earlier days in the big smoke of Melbourne, the night cart folks would collect peoples sewage from the rear of their houses. Delicate persons wouldn’t want to sprain their eyes by sighting the night cart workers, so the stuff was collected in the dark hours, and the horse and carts used to traverse the cobblestone lined alleyways doing what needed doing. Clop, clop, clop would have been heard. The stuff had value for farmers as a fertiliser. Some unscrupulous businessmen, depending on the prices paid for the inputs and outputs, used to dump the contents into the local creeks and river systems.
The industry at the time also wasn’t shy about dumping whatever waste they created into the local creeks and river systems. It didn’t take too many encounters with the polluted water to produce epidemics of Cholera and Typhoid in the city population, especially during the warmer summer months. People who could afford to, fled the cities during those summer months, often heading up into the mountains to avoid the miasma.
At the time, the fresh air of the mountains would have been a nicer place to be. Even a tuberculosis sanatorium was constructed in the area, for much the same reasons. The sanatorium was of course at a respectfully polite distance from all but the poorest folks in the community – apparently much to their outrage.
Ah, how times have changed. It’s such a wet year this year that I do wonder how the Cobb and Co coaches navigated the muddy tracks way back in the day. Probably not well, and you’d hope the gentlemen were ejected from the carriage, whilst the ladies were spared the walk. Hopefully that was how it worked. Maybe.
The dirt roads are a bit of a mess around here due to the very wet season. And the conditions deteriorate from this elevation upwards. It’s not good, but it’s survivable.
The new road the farm is located on, replaced the old Cobb and Co coach track, and the local bloke who did it sure knew what he was doing. The road has held up very well during this wet year, and also the many previous wet years.
It was a fortunate thing that he was also employed to cut the house site into the side of the hill using his machines. When I met him to get him to quote on the work, the meeting was like an interview. If I’d been anything less than polite and agreeable, it is doubtful he would have done the work. And the work has held up well over the years.
As part of the work, we installed a very large concrete pipe to redirect water away from the top of the driveway. I don’t even recall him asking my opinion as to the sizing or placement of the pipe. He operated the excavator whilst I was on the muddy end of the job and directed the placement of the concrete pipes. And the amazing thing about that pipe is that it just works all of the time and without fail. The bloke knew what he was doing. I on the other hand, am learning as I’m going along. As I’m certain he did long ago.
Earlier in the week provided a break from the rain, with some sunny and warm skies. It was really nice, except that for most of the time I’d had work activities scheduled that I couldn’t get out of. On the nicest day of the lot, I’d booked a visit to the dentist months beforehand. Best not to annoy the dentist by cancelling, as the rescheduled visit could possibly be accidentally painful.
On the other hand, I had a bit of free time here and there, and so decided to do a project which I’d long been avoiding. The project was adding a wider gate to the sapling fenced enclosure which is used to grow pumpkins and leeks. The existing gate (which has not been altered) and concrete stairs made it almost impossible to get any machines into the enclosure. Clearly the enclosure had been set up in our earlier days when we didn’t know what we were doing!
A section for the new gate was cut out of the sapling fence, and a new gate post (right hand side) was set into cement.
A section of the thick Agapanthus had to be removed using a jackhammer. Those plants survive the most atrociously hot and dry summers because the root systems are massively thick and tough. It is possible that they are related to Triffids. A rock wall on either side of the Agapanthus was put in place in order to keep the plants at bay. Take that ya Triffids!
It is hard to see in the above photo, but there was quite a steep ramp leading up to the gate. A huge amount of soil was relocated onto the ramp, and then compacted so that it is now a smooth path with a reasonable incline.
There was one not-so-little problem remaining. Observant readers will notice that in the above photo that there is a white pipe connected to the side of the large grey water tank. The pipe goes downwards, and then through the middle of the enclosure. That was a stupid arrangement, because being in the middle of a cultivated area, the pipe was continually getting damaged. It wasn’t my idea to put it there, but all the same it was something which needed to be corrected.
Removing the overflow pipe from the enclosure meant relocating the pipe all the way around the outside of the enclosure. In less technical terms, that meant me digging a long trench around two sides of the enclosure (and under the new ramp). A mate of mine helping me out long ago, once remarked that I dig trenches faster than anyone he’d ever seen. I’d like to believe that he was correct.
The water running in the overflow pipe now runs in an underground pipe which exists outside of the enclosure. Incidentally the water collects in a swale below the enclosure where it then slowly infiltrates into the soil. As a system, it works.
The trenches were backfilled over with even more soil. Then a layer of crushed rock with lime was placed over the soil. The Editor suggests that I have a natural knack for stomping, and so I put that gift to work and compacted down the crushed rock using my feet. It’s a lovely all weather surface now, ready for anything!
Alert readers will notice that the enclosure is full of weeds. ‘Weeds’ is the technical term for plants that probably shouldn’t be where they are. I’d like to suggest that I was leaving the area fallow, but that would be a lie. We just hadn’t been able to easily maintain the enclosure – now we can.
And whilst the sun was shining, which is also known as ‘in between the next rain storm’, I got up onto the roof and cleaned out the guttering. An electric high pressure sprayer was very useful for doing this work. But the job still took many hours.
The guttering collects the water which ends up in the water tanks. Some sections of the guttering had quite an interesting collection of organic matter. It was surprisingly clean really, especially given the job hadn’t been done for a couple of years.
The other night, we spotted a wombat at around dusk wandering around the top of the driveway. The wombat uses the concrete pipe there as a super-highway.
Echidna’s (a monotreme ant-eater which is closely related to platypus) have been busily digging around the property. You can tell it is an Echidna because at the bottom of the digging are pointy nose indents in the soil.
The bees have been very active of late.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 1,161.0mm (45.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,141.6mm (44.9 inches)