As we’ve noted in our curated collection of farm-found rubbish, the largely idyllic setting of the property masks a narrow badland of erosion gullies repopulated with human trash. It’s bizarre sifting through it, a process of contemporary archaeology that often strays towards the forensic as we imagine the human story behind the array of objects gradually becoming swallowed beneath sediment and phalaris grass.
One of our missions is to clear the large rubbish from the gullies, increasing their habitat value and allowing us to more effectively address erosion and revegetation, while also allowing for the reuse and recycling of the accumulated items. On a blazing February morning, we helped a local scrap dealer begin to extract recyclable metal from one of the most dramatically eroded gullies. In an hour and a half we had well over a tonne of metal, in the form of a deep freeze (packed with coral, rainbow-coloured aquarium stones and empty tins of bourbon and cola), two washing machines, an electric oven and stove, a motorbike, three BMX bikes, an exercise bike, venetian blinds, chook wire, corrugated iron, steel tubing, downpipes, engine parts, metal drums, wheel rims and homemade farm machinery.
While the bulk of the rubbish is metal, it is spiked with domestic detritus: seemingly endless quantities of shoes, including a pair of Dunlop K26s, twisted and buckled out of shape, their tops shrunken and pulling away from perishing soles. There is an abundance of polyester clothing, faded in the dust and sun, but still largely intact; mattresses corroded back to a bed of rusty springs; a school polo shirt, the logo of the local area school starting to dissolve into a collection of random letters.
It’s a modest beginning, to see a few new patches of soil and creekbank opened to the sun after however-many years submerged under corrugated iron. While there may be some bits that we can never extract, it marks a milestone for us in starting to effect visible change on the landscape. We look forward to sharing photos of the gullies in a few years time, nifty before-and-after shots that reveal the transformation!
I enjoy the process of clearing rubbish from land, especially buried rubbish which adds to the mystery. When preparing a site in the garden of our 1821 house in England to rebuild the collapsed out building, I had to re level the ground as it had been used as a rubbish tip probably since Victorian times. My top finds were… thousands of patterned china fragments, a fossilised vertebrae, glass perfume bottles, military buttons, a cast iron fireman’s trolley, a rusted grill which I built into the new building, hand cut corner stones, dummy eggs for chickens, a very old carved head, a china sink, a Victorian fireplace, assorted pieces of iron which were used to strengthen my stonework, marbles, useful cast iron guttering and a hopper, ornate clay pipes and fossilised shells. My worst finds were.. buried paint tins, a whole sprung bed frame, sharp wiggly tin, a few chunks of asbestos, fertilizer sacks full of smashed glass, loose glass, a family of baby rats, all kinds of vile plastics, rattraps and skeletons.
I have just found your blog and it is great to see the progress you have made 🙂 Lucy
Thanks Lucy, yes, a fascinating process! Did you discover any creative use for the more desirable discoveries?
What a restorative process, and by the sounds super interesting also. My question folks, is from where does this trash come from? Is it all from previous owners or do you suspect a little runoff from town junk? I mean, how does a washing machine get there? Top job team!
Hey Schurno, we’ve actually started referring to it as The Wishing Gully, because if you stand on the edge and wish hard enough for something, it’s likely you’ll find it (it’s especially good at offering up rusty farm tools, car parts, Dunlop K26s and roofing iron). I think what’s been deposited represents quite a few decades of dumping, with perhaps the most recent stuff arriving in the late 80s-early 90s. Don’t know its provenance, but I’m guessing most of it came from the original property. Help yourself next time you’re down!