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!