Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Childhood Revisited

In mid July we spent a few days at the coast before travelling south along the Princes Highway to Melbourne. Along the way we spent a night in Lakes Entrance before continuing down through several Gippsland towns on the highway. It was a beautifully sunny winter's day, and as we were driving through Yarragon, I suddenly thought that I would like to go and see the farm on which I lived until I was 2 and a half. I had never been back to the farm since my parents, two older brothers and I had left there in August 1946........a long time ago!!!

We turned off the highway and set the GPS (or Persephone, as we have nicknamed the voice) for Childers in the Strzelecki Ranges in the South Gippsland Region of Victoria.

This is primarily a dairying area with good pasture and high rainfall.

As we climbed higher into the hills more forested areas emerged, with tree ferns....

... and tall eucalypts.

The only indication that we had reached our destination was 'Childers' on a large wooden sign and a couple of houses. I realised that I had no idea where the farm was so I rang my eldest brother who had been to the area a couple of times in the past two decades or so. He said that we needed to drive on until we came to Settlement Road and our farm was in the corner, on the left hand side. That sounded simple enough so we continued on for about 7km and sure enough we came to the intersection with Settlement Road. But rather than the farmland I expected to see, we were in a plantation of eucalypt trees. Obviously this was a commercial enterprise and nowhere could one fit a cow, let alone an entire herd.

Reasonably undaunted, we continued for about 17kms along an unsealed, winding road, with steep forests rising above us on the right and dropping away into deep gullies on the left. We were grateful that it was a Saturday afternoon and we didn't encounter any log trucks on a narrow bend.

Gradually the forest gave way to more open farmland with some quite spectacular views. Occasionally we were able to pull off the road a little and take a few photos.

It is hard to convey in these photos just how steep the countryside is, but we were impressed with this paddock which needed to be cultivated in one direction only, ie. the tractor would have to come down the hill, then skirt around the steepest parts until it could reach the top of the hill and then come down again. The land is too steep to drive up or sideways.

The next four photos give some idea of the beauty of this area, although the farms would not be easy to work due to the steep terrain.

We eventually came to the other end of Settlement Road. After receiving instructions from my brother we had actually headed south instead of north and come in at the wrong end of the road.

So there, on the right hand side of the road now, was the farm we were looking for. We couldn't see the house, and I think we may have passed it before we realised we had come to the farm so we didn't turn around and go back. I was happy enough to have found the farm and could take some photos.

My brother is five years older than me, so he remembers more about living there than I do. Apparently, the land had only recently been opened up for farming when my parents arrived there in late 1943 and much of the land was still covered in blackberries and bracken fern.

I don't know exactly how many acres Dad farmed but these are the views from the road just above the farm.

It is undoubtedly beautiful countryside now, although its beauty may not have registered too often with Dad as he tried to clean up a dirty farm and eke out a living for his family milking a few cows and growing potatoes.

As I stood there I tried to imagine what it must have been like living there more than 60 years ago with very poor road conditions and unreliable transport.

A few more scenes along the way.

Although it was a beautiful day, it was quite hazy in the distance.

I have almost no memory of living there and I wish now that I had gone back years ago. Perhaps even with Mum and Dad so that we could have talked about their time there. So often we don't see the need to do these things until it's TOO LATE!


Ozjane said...

Those pictures are both lovely and familiar.
My boyfriend and another male friend dragged me all round that area...the Grand Ridge Road sticks in my mind and we did a few excursions when I was studying at Churchill.
I could be tempted to move to that area if I was younger and less in need of hospitals and surgeons etc.

Frankie said...

Amazing. Your father and mother were real pioneers. I guess you would still need to have a fair amount of the pioneering spirit to work and live in the area... or to be a poet because it is so beautiful. Great pix as usual.

rohrerbot said...

Looks like a fun drive. Walking amongst things past is very personal. Thank you for sharing....the drive in the forest sounded beautiful:)

Kerri said...

My delight grew with each successive photo! :)
That countryside is glorious!
What a lovely side trip you had.
Yes, it must've been huge amount of work turning it into a working farm and getting in and out in bad weather.
My family lived on a poultry farm when I was that age. I can't remember it either but I do recall how my mum hated plucking chickens forever after :)
I haven't enjoyed it either the few times I've tried it over the years. Ross' mum was very handy though at plucking wild turkeys whenever one was bagged (we have friends who love to hunt turkeys on our farm during turkey season and they often bag one for us). She would always do the job for me. And very thankful I was! :)

Bernie said...

What a beautiful country you live in Alice, absolutely beautiful....Hugs

racheld said...

What an absolutely stunning tour!! It's a wonderful thing to go and find the place where you took your first steps---I've known mine always, and the finding is easy.

Those tree ferns were the most impressive plants---just to think about them and that they've been around since the dawn of Time. All the land is so lush and beautiful---very reminiscent of Scotland in places, and that's very dear to my heart.

Somehow, looking at all your gardens and flowers and the way you keep your home---it's evident that your first looks at the world were this beautiful.

Annie said...

Alice,Hi - good to hear from you again - I seem to lose you there for awhile. What MAGICAL countryside - and yes, wouldn't it have been good to talk it over with your dad. They were the pioneers of making such a beautiful space. Love your Spring glory. We have lots of the same plants. Those snazzy daffs are very pretty

diane said...

Stunning scenery. How exciting to go back and visit where you started your life and yes it is sad that when we were young we didn't bother about our heritage.