I visited the block yesterday. I haven’t seen it since the one and only time I visited it before I put in an offer. It’s different than I expected, in a few ways. The boundaries weren’t as I remembered. There are more clearings than I recall. There are more scrap building materials that have been left behind. And it’s a hell-of-a-lot prettier than I first imagined. I spent 3 hours at the block sitting, walking, observing and exploring. I dug some holes with a metal rod I found. The soil doesn’t appear to be as sandy as I expected. It’s white and loose in parts, red-sandy loam in others, and where many camp fires have burnt years ago, it’s starting to develop a nice humus.
I bumped into three locals on my visit. Both my next door neighbours and a bloke from up the road, who was cycling to the post office to collect the weekend paper. On one side there is Neville, a semi-retired, 80-something-year-old, farmer turned concrete-worker. We talked about work, small business, bushfires, and community. Then I met Teresa on the other side. She is a 40-something mother of grown-up sons, who lives by herself and loves the peace and quiet of the town. She was really pleased to hear that I had purchased the land and intended to follow permaculture principles in how I developed it. She said “it’s a bastard to grow plants out here sometimes” and suggested my first priority be to “build the soil”. She loved the idea of a straw bale house, and commented on the insulation qualities of this building method. She offered me heaps of scrap building material that she no longer needed – more limestone than I can poke a stick at, two old galv rainwater tanks, trellising, an old garden shed, and old avery, and a heap of roofing iron. She also offered me a place to stay and shower if I need it. Oh, community, you’re alive and well. I also met Ron. He is a leather-worker from up the road. He was going to participate in a straw bale building workshop a few towns over a couple of years back, but life got in the way. He has three books on straw bale, he told me. And one day he intends to build a small workshop, in which to do his leather work, out of straw bale. I offered for him to help on my project. He is keen to lend a hand when I get bailing.
If Zone 6 is community, well, I have done a fair amount of observing and interacting already. This was one of my objectives of this, my first trip out to the block since settlement: to meet locals and tell them of my plans. Fitting in isn’t necessarily my aim, but getting along with people certainly is. And so far I am off to a positive start.
I shall let the following pictures express more about what I observed at the block. I feel a comprehensive analysis is only a few posts away.
Pigs face (Carpobrotus rossii) grows like crazy as a groundcover across the block.
Some of the useful materials left behind by the previous owner. The old galv rainwater tank (of which I now have 4) is destined to be turned into 5 raised garden beds.
Another of the galv tanks. This one might make a good fire wood shed.
The next door neighbour has used the block for storage, he makes these wonderful concrete products. At least I have a place to sit for now.
From the front, looking north.
Looking north from the ‘driveway’.
The main clearing.
I went for a walk in the scrub behind the block and found this old truck.
This is what some of the soil looks like. Sand or sandy loam?