The ancient trees that stalked across the paddocks when I was a child were my first clue that something was wrong with our landscape.
They started to die.
“Theý’re old” said Dad. “They’ve had their time. We just need to plant some more.”
So he planted more. The Goodradigbee Shire supplied Sydney blue gums in little plastic tubes. The big trees were eucalypts, and so were the new little ones. Not the same type, or even a local type but that was what was available.
I lobbied for planting some wattles, because I liked the flowers and the way they’d made a golden line down the valley when we first arrived.
“They don’t live long enough. They die after five years.” said Dad.
The trees he planted died even more quickly , most of them before they even grew up to the top of their metal sheep guards. Each guard was expensive and time-consuming to make, requiring two or three steel star pickets and a length of netting, plus a certain amount of tie-wire and cursing the rocky ground. Many of them still sit empty, too much trouble to remove. Continue reading
This map comes from an aerial photo my Dad had taken in 1980 and then carefully stencilled the outlines of the paddocks onto glass. It’s been framed and hanging on the wall for years.
It’s great to have that picture to compare with current images, including another aerial photo I ordered from the state government photo archive in 2011 before with did our first major planting.
There are lots of issues clamoring for attention in our world – war, hunger, climate change, disaster, death and despair. I find reading the newspaper a dangerous activity likely to explode a blood pressure cuff across the room.
‘Nearly two years ago I got the opportunity move back to the family farm and work on making it more resilient, to help it survive the next few decades. That means living in a beautiful old house belonging to my mother, with a view over the Murrumbidgee and the surrounding hills. It means fixing up that house and the others on the farm. It means repairing or putting up new fences to protect plants and it means working out what the landscape should look like for the long term.