a change in time

musings on behavioural change – the small stuff and the big stuff.

Changing of the guard

5 Comments

In June 1973, the Webb family purchased a 204 acre property in the Strzeleckis, just up the hill from Toora.

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we think this photo was taken after fires went through the area around 1923-33. There is still lively debate on the actual date.

For the city born-and-bred siblings, 11yo Melissa, 15yo Peter and almost 18yo Keith, suddenly there was a new place to roam and that is exactly what they did.

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Melissa, Dean Richards and Kirsten Bunney in the back of Keith’s Morris Minor Ute. (photo by Keith) 

For many years, the family travelled down regularly in Gordon’s van or Lois’ Pontiac. Eventually Keith, Peter and Melissa added other interests to their farm visits and, for awhile, the farm became Lois’ and Gordon’s domain.

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A much loved ritual – drinks on the verandah after a hard day’s work (KGW)

They split their time between Box Hill and Wonyip, their combined vision of what the farm could become was slowly revealed over the years. Gordon enlisted a nearby farmer, Bob Clarke, to help build a barn from corrugated iron and local trees.

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If you’ve ever been to the barn, you will know how far away Gordon is from the ground! (KGW) 

Lois enlisted Gordon to help create her own version of an English country garden, along with a rambling vegetable garden and an orchard of her favourite fruit trees.

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Lois at the back door, the garden protected from wandering wombats. (KGW)

Keith is a fine photographer and we are fortunate that he has recorded many of the changes that have occurred over the years. He recently commented, “I can remember consciously trying to capture the normality of life back then which seemed set to stretch on into a happy future.”

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One of those good days. Peter holding baby Louis, hanging out with Gordon and Lois. 

I could very much relate to this. When one is in the midst of life, it does seem like these days will stretch on forever. Peter and I have been together for 32 of those 43 years. We took our children to the farm in those early days and they soon came to love it just as much as we do.

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I could write an entire blog on this photo. Ruth, Yoshi, Peter and Louis, early 90s

But the good times do not stretch on forever. Gordon died in 1996 with Lois following in 2012. After Gordon’s death, the natural flow of those happy days were changed. Without the weekly care provided by Lois and Gordon, the vegetation and local wildlife started to reclaim the land. The house suffered as well.

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The Wonyip weather can be harsh and the northside of the house takes the worst of it.

We still had many good times however something needed to occur that would allow us to manage the farm in a way that would not require weekly attention.

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Happy smiling people! Yoshi, Ruth, Peter, Louis, Dean, Melissa, Phil, Jesse, Luke 

Around 2007, we joined the local Landcare group. Many of the Landcare members were city folks who had bought properties in the hills much like Lois and Gordon. We soon became involved in several local projects such as tree-planting and the removal or containment of ‘noxious weeds’.

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Tree planting on the top eight acres. Werner and Turid from our Landcare group. 

Our big break came when the Jack and Albert River Restoration project awarded us a grant to spray the blackberries on the property.

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Watch out blackberry, the JARR project is on to you! 

This was a turning point as we now regained access to a large area that had been completely off limits due to blackberry invasion. It led us to consider placing a covenant on about a third of the land – a large area of wet and damp forest and cool temperate rainforest that had managed to avoid being cleared.

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Tree ferns, Silver wattle, Blackwood and Mountain Ash share a complex ecosystem  

We have all become connected to the hills of Wonyip, each in our own way. Peter and I are interested to see what kind of relationship our sons, nephews and nieces will form with the farm and the land.

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Louis was inspired by Bruce Pascoe and his book, Dark Emu, to plant yam daisy. He will plant seeds in different sites at the farm. Maybe a new business! Yoshi is being a very supportive brother.  

We are incredibly fortunate that Lois and Gordon had the foresight to create a home away from home in such a beautiful part of the country.

pink filtered light spilling over the ridge

Just wow

May our children and grandchildren continue this story with the same delight as us.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Changing of the guard

  1. Beautiful words about how the generations are turning over at Wonyip. I felt conscious of that happening when Philip and I, and Keith, took on Dad’s role – big shoes to fill. And those late teenage years when I got my first car and coming down to Wonyip with friends was kind of a hippie-ish sometimes crowded affair, quite exciting and new. Now I see my sons coming down with their friends and hope that it is as wonderful as it was and still is for me.

  2. A fine story to write about on the second year anniversary of your blog. Over those two years you have opened our eyes and hearts to the importance of living sustainability and sharing that with friends and family. The evolution of the farm, and its bright looking future as the next generation becomes more involved, is a perfect example. I look forward to many more inspirational stories in the coming years.

  3. So good to be able to look back and remember and also to look forward

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