With the chilling of the air, it’s time for us to don our gloves and get stuck into mining the junk that lines the banks and bed of our erosion gullies. It’s become an annual tradition to pick a path through chest-high phalaris, filling bags with debris. It’s scratchy, dusty work, with plastic milk bottles and the remains of plastic bags collapsing into confetti with the gentlest of touches. Yet despite the discomfort, we can’t help but have a forensic fascination with what we unearth. Each discovery is a cryptic clue into the lives of our predecessors, those who decided that the headwaters of a creek would be the best place for their unwanted bric-a-brac.
Now that we have a new entry to the property, it was time to knock together a sign announcing the property’s name. In August 2014, we were granted the name Yarnauwi by Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi, a property name that both describes the landscape (“bald (hills) water”), and references the traditional meeting ground Yarnauwingga just beyond the back fence.
In the spirit of our intentions for the property, the sign is entirely constructed from materials salvaged from around the farm: a surviving piece of corrugated iron and timbers seasoned in the mud and sun of the gully floors. The text and logo are stencilled with spray-paint. The rather wonky nature of the timbers made it tricky to hang, but we’re reasonably confident it’s level-ish. Give it a honk next time you’re passing!
It’s been a dry year on the Fleurieu Peninsula. After the inundation of 2013, 2014’s rainfall came in almost 200mm shy of the year before, and about 100mm short of the average. By February 2015, the dam had receded to a few centimetres of sludge, and the water carter had come to top up the stock water tanks. While there’s no doubt that the Fleurieu Peninsula has had the Mediterranean pattern of dry summers and cool, wet winters for some time, recently I’ve begun to wonder whether this pattern has shifted towards greater aridity as successive land-uses have cleared the landscape.
At the time of European colonisation, the Fleurieu Peninsula was most likely covered with a mosaic of woodland, forest and grasslands, maintained through Aboriginal burning and land management practices. In his paper on the discovery and settlement of the Fleurieu (1986), Rob Linn draws from the diaries of settlers in his descriptions of the landscape of the South Western Fleurieu. Writing in 1838, William Giles described the landscape around Rapid Bay, as “a most beautiful valley, the soil of great depth covered with most luxuriant herbage … on the sides of these hills we found plenty of keep for sheep, and wherever the grass had been burnt in these places it was looking beautifully verdant … fine land, excellent water, plenty of timber …” This was echoed by John Stephens in 1839, describing the “country from Cape Jervis upwards” as “very picturesque” and “well-timbered” (Linn 1986). Continue reading
We’ve been gradually easing into the festive spirit, and this year attempting to create our own wrapping paper. This design was inspired by the gums we’ve become so acquainted with, and unexpectedly, one of our red gums is already flowering enthusiastically. The prints are hand-carved from rubber printing blocks, and printed using acrylic paints. Season’s greetings!
Watching the light shift across the hills is one of the great pleasures of being on the South Western Fleurieu, and it’s further enhanced by proximity to the sea. On our journeys around the region, we’re regularly exposed to the changes of light over the ocean as the road hooks coastward at places like Lady Bay or Sellicks, or hiking along the cliffs and coast around Second Valley. Summer offers a starkness to the ocean and sky, but I’ve come to love the way sea and sky diffuse together in the winter. Here’s some of what we’ve seen.
After a year and a half, we’ve finally got to developing a visual identity for the farm. While our working name for the farm, “Trees, Bees and Cheese”, is more conceptual than place-based, we wanted the logo to reflect some of the distinctiveness of the farm’s landscape.
Yep, there is wind and rain, but there’s also the symphonic light that rolls across the hills and the late afternoon haze that reduces the sequence of valleys into golden layers of theatre scenery. There are the rolling, low clouds that we ache for in late summer and autumn, then look forward to farewelling by late winter. These tumbling clouds also reference the nearby sea. The lone tree and falling rain suggest how the landscape has been reshaped over the last 180ish years through clearing and subsequent erosion, but also remind us of the resources available in restoration when we harvest rainwater and gather seed. Perhaps in the future we might be able to add some more trees to the logo to reflect the changing reality of the property!
We also have a black-and-white option, particularly good for stencilling farmy things. We’d love to hear what you reckon, and if you have any ideas for tweaks or adjustments!
A little while ago, it occurred to me that maybe I should give watercolour a crack. The theory was that I’d be able to work fast enough to bang out a painting during toddler naps. In reality, I’ve still only finished a handful of works over the last six months, and as a consequence my skill development has been glacial. That said, it’s still a pleasure to sit down with the brushes and attempt to wrangle the Czech-made watercolour set into South Australia’s less exuberant colour palette.
A day spent hauling junk out of gullies can put you in a philosophical mood. When we first purchased this property, we were drawn to the erosion gullies filled with generations of farm rubbish with a kind-of masochistic fascination. After a year of hauling, stacking and shunting loads to the dump or recycling depot, today we loaded up our ute with the final bundles of unruly and ancient fencing wire.
The most recent round of dump trips has also been momentous in that it finally marks the banishment of a terrifying, rusted and threadbare rocking horse from the property. The horror horse, wedged between rusted 44-gallon drums stuffed with irrigation pipe and topped with a decaying mattress, formed one in a series of mobile art installations mounted on the back of the ute, displayed for a brief, one-time-only journey between our block and the Yankalilla dump. A number of more conceptual, minimalist pieces followed shortly after, composed of snarls of fencing wire of assorted vintage. Continue reading