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macedonranges C E L E B R AT E • A P P R E C I AT E • D I S CO V E R

C o u ntr y L i f e in D ay les f ord & the M acedon R anges

magazine

WIN

RedBeard Historic Bakery Going Golfin’ Zig Zag Winery The Hedge Doctor

an intimate getaway package for two on Mount Macedon

Donna Cooper

Changing Lives in Cambodia

Tom Walsh Autumn 2012

Spud Country

Issue No: 3 $6.50 (inc. GST)

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Editor’s Letter I grew up on a farm on the Murray River near Albury, New South Wales.

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My parents had beef cattle and my memories of adolescence are peppered very much with an outdoor life— swimming horses in the river; trotting through paddocks of towering, humbling River Red Gums. Rounding up cattle bareback—at the time it felt like a never-ending chore. Camping with friends down the back paddocks; jumping the crazy constructions my father dreamt up so we didn’t have to pause in our endeavours for pesky things such as opening gates. It has left me with a fondness not only for cattle—we raised many orphan calves during the course of our lives there—but an appreciation for a career that is a way of life. I have always been slightly baffled by the saying “I work to live, not live to work.” It seemed to me that to spend so much of one’s life in some sort of work, one really ought to love it. I wanted to wake up in the morning excited about the work I was to do that day. I wanted to contribute. Possibly it was youthful idealism—at some point, there are bills to pay and idealism may not be as useful as an actual job. But as I meandered through the stories of the people featured in this issue, it struck me how passionately they do what they do. From baking bread to raising cattle; from changing the lives of children on the other side of the world to growing potatoes. A love of work is an inspiring thing. I hope you enjoy their stories. All set amid the spectacular colours and scenery of autumn in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges.

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CONTENTS FEATURES 9 Macedon Ranges Profile Donna Cooper—Woodend

35 On the Land The New Pastoralist—Sidonia

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49 The Story So Far Milling around—Various

65 Macedon Ranges Produce Spud Country—Trentham

73 The Hedge Doctor Career Spot—Lauriston

REGULAR 3 Editor’s Letter 19 Book Review Hamlet’s Blackberry

23 Gardens of the Macedon Ranges Glen Rannoch

30 What’s on 42 Style Spot Best in Show

59 On Ya Bike Zig Zag Wines

81 Merry Spirit Gone Golfin

88 In the Community 100.7 Highlands FM

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92 Macedon Ranges Food & Wine Spot RedBeard Historic Bakery

97 Daylesford Macedon Ranges Area Map 5


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Publishing Editor Sarah Preston Copyeditor Gary Bird Editorial Danielle White, Ellie Parker, Kate Skinner, Kristine Portier, Stephen Ryan, Sue Peacock

Ed Kosmac would like to welcome Sarah Wassnig to our Woodend practice. Together, they look forward to providing high quality eye care with a smile ď Š to the Woodend community.

Photography & Styling Big Dog Bites, Caroline Westmore, Danielle White, Jacqui Henshaw, Kim Selby Photography, Sam White, Tara Pearce Designers greengraphics.com.au Printing Print Manager Jon de Laine. This magazine is printed in Australia by Printgraphics Pty Ltd under ISO 14001 Environmental Certifications.

Woodend: Shop 14 / 130 High Street Phone: 5427 4577 Castlemaine: 63 Mostyn Street Phone: 5472 1020 Kyneton: 99 Mollison Street Phone: 5422 3822 www.kosmacandclemens.com.au

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0407 208 186 Cover image by Jacqui Henshaw: Natalia & Nikola Miletic biking around the beautiful township of Malmsbury. Huge apology to Landmark-Dwyer agent John Robson, who was incorrectly titled an Elders agent in Sale O! Sale O! Issue #2 page 36 Reproduction in whole or part of this magazine is strictly prohibited. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or resultant consequences including any loss or damage arising from reliance on information in this publication. Views expressed by the writers are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

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Macedon Ranges Profile

Macedon Ranges Profile Donna Cooper—Woodend WORDS Sue Peacock PHOTOGRAPHY Kim Selby and supplied

Donna and Sam Cooper.

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Donna and Ian Cooper; (left to right) Vuth, Sok Ha and Sok La playing on scales in the Kimyeng Medical Centre set up by CKF

She was a girl from West Footscray who dropped out of school in year eight after leaving home. He was a boy from the neighbouring suburb and her childhood sweetheart.

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Far from wealthy, they are unlikely philanthropists, yet Woodend couple Donna and Ian Cooper and their children have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and transformed the lives of many in some of the poorest areas of Cambodia as SUE PEACOCK reports. Donna Cooper thought it would be a great experience to take her 15-year-old daughter on a backpacking trip around Cambodia in 2006.

When it was time to leave, her daughter Sam refused to go. “She said to me that unless I promised to do something to help the Khmer people she was not getting on the plane. She has always been her own person and I knew she was serious,” she laughed.

Donna agreed they would “do something to help the kids” but had no real idea what it would be.

Together they would soak up the culture, eat and sleep with the locals and work at an orphanage in a country that was still on its knees after the genocide inflicted by despotic Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot in the late 1970s. She never envisaged how that one trip would alter the course of her family’s life and lead to a new vocation for all of them.

“When we worked in the orphanage the kids just won our hearts,” she said. “I travel a lot but there is just something about Cambodia—I don’t know how to explain it.”

Donna agreed they would “do something to help the kids” but had no real idea what it would be.

Five years on and the Cooper family’s Cambodian Kids Foundation (CKF) has built a kindergarten and day care centre, a school with a second one under construction, and provided other infrastructure including wells, a fleet of bicycles and a medical centre. It has also been responsible for a range of programs including health clinics, empowerment programs for rural women and university and high school scholarships aimed at giving a leg up to the country’s next generation of leaders. Before this, however, they returned home from their backpacking holiday and started looking for non-

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government organisations they could support in Cambodia.

development, a move that left many of their new friends homeless and helpless.

“We just couldn’t find one we were completely happy with, who we felt was doing things the way we would have,” she told Macedon Ranges Magazine.

“It was a very scary time, the police had guns and truncheons and having Jack taking photos and documenting the whole thing was worrying. I remember saying to him ‘Jack, go inside’ and he just stopped and looked at me and said ‘no, Mum, you go inside’.”

Then son Jack decided he too wanted to check out Cambodia. By himself.

For Donna, the rewards and motivation to continue working and fundraising come from knowing they have saved lives and given many kids a bright future.

“We didn’t really know Cambodia that well and we were a little concerned about a 15-year-old boy going there alone,” Donna said. “So I went with him and organised him in a hotel and left him there while I went on a buying trip” (for her business Color Me Cooper, a successful retail clothing business with shops in Woodend and Daylesford—profits from Color Me Cooper have underpinned CKF since it began). Jack went to school in Penh for six weeks, disadvantaged part of back, the slums were

12

the slums in the capital Phnom deliberately picking the most the city. When his mother got being razed to make way for

The next day while having a coffee with her son, CKF was born.

“At that point it really dawned on me that we are so lucky as we have things like insurance and families to support us through tough times. I felt a very strong obligation, or sense of duty that I had to do something, that the time was now.” “Jack had identified that education was the key. Initially, building a school was far from our reach so we started by sponsoring children with scholarships and giving them a safe place to live and some support so they could go to university where they had access


Clockwise from top left: Donna & Bora in Soksan Village; Sam and her fiancée Rylee spent nine months working for the Foundation in Cambodia in 2011; Donna, Ian and Indiana

to computers and could complete their studies and get a good job.” The focus soon expanded to helping those in country areas who had no access to learning English, a prerequisite for university study. “Those first students we supported wanted to help others and together we decided to open a free English school.” A school designed for 150 kids was established on the outskirts of a very poor village called Mous (short for mosquito, but which has since been renamed Soksan which means health and peace), in Kampong Thom province about four hours north of Phnom Penh. When enrolments opened there was a stampede. “We had 650 kids register and that school now has 750 children attending with some kids traveling up to 20 kilometres to come to school,” Donna said. Last year, CKF began a project to build a second English school with 21 classrooms and the capacity to educate 2000 children and adults in the middle of the village. Funds given by Kilmore International School were used to buy the land and a fundraising blitz is underway to ensure the school, which will double as a community hub in the evenings, is completed. For Donna, the rewards and motivation to continue working and fundraising come from knowing they have saved lives and given many kids a bright future. “You don’t know gratitude until you meet a mother who can’t give her child an education or enough to eat, something that you can help provide. Just the look in their eyes is enough to make you get out of bed and work even harder,” she said. Jack Cooper agrees. “Here they have every problem you could think of but still see no reason to complain,” he wrote in an email from Cambodia. “The kids here are a lot more grateful I suppose, that’s why I like this country.” ***

Philanthropy wasn’t on their radar when Donna and Ian moved to Woodend 20 years ago. They were more concerned with becoming parents and building a new life for themselves and their baby

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Lysen riding with a bike and helmet funded through the annual CKF fundraiser, Ride for Bikes—a scenic ride through the Macedon Ranges

When she dropped out of school she worked at Target, where she learned the real value of work. “They were very good to me, they knew my situation but those early bosses taught me the importance of being serious about your work, whatever that was.” Donna set up Color Me Cooper in 1999 with just $1000. Twelve years later, there are two shops—in Woodend and Daylesford—which stock a range of clothing, jewellery, trinkets and home wares from around the world. Without Color Me Cooper, CKF would have struggled to get off the ground. Energetic, passionate, dedicated, single-minded and generous are how others in Woodend see the Coopers. Local resident Karen Basa first met Donna a decade ago when she approached her with some samples of children’s pants she had made. “When Donna and Ian believe in something, they absolutely commit to it,” she said.

“What I always find interesting about both of them is they live like they have all the time in the world. They are never in a hurry, they are always asking how you are, what is news etcetera—which amazes me when I know that that night they may have a gig on with 100 people attending and many things to still be done.” Youth worker and Woodend resident Annie Rowland recalls meeting Sam Cooper when she came to speak to a group of youth leaders about her work in Cambodia: “She was about 15 years old and I remember thinking what I now know is true—she is a change agent with a big heart who knows more about compassion than many learn in a lifetime.” ***

It takes a lot to make someone like Donna Cooper unravel. But the 42-year-old admits she fell apart last October

15


Jack cooking at the Kimyeng Centre with the Women’s Group in the background

after the drowning death of a 20-month-old toddler, Kimyeng, in the village where CKF does most of its work. “I dropped my bundle for 24 hours,” she explained. “All that work and we lost a child, it was such a tragedy and I felt so responsible.” With all the older children at the school built by the CKF, there was no one to look after the younger ones while their parents went to work.

I think everyone feels a responsibility to help others; it’s just that most people are so busy with their own lives that they don’t always notice others, especially not people that they’ve never met, as far away as Cambodia.

“I knew we needed to build a kindergarten for the little ones but I just wasn’t quick enough to get the funds.” Before CKF’s arrival, the infant mortality in the village was as high as four children a month.

The kindergarten and day care centre, named after Kimyeng, is now up and running thanks to donations and support from both friends and strangers, many in the Macedon Ranges. Donna estimates more than half the total funds raised by CKF (about $500,000) has been generated in the

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Macedon Ranges. It has come via trivia nights, gigs and cycling events, the direct sponsoring of children and specific projects and from people opening their wallets at sausage sizzles, cake stalls and Color Me Cooper. “The Woodend community has been just amazing in its support,” she said. “More than half our sponsors are Woodend families who have enabled us to change the lives of these children.”

After dreaming of a big backer to relieve the constant funding pressures, the Coopers recently declined an opportunity to engage with a corporate sponsor. It would mean relinquishing control of the way CKF is run including changing its structure, which has the younger Coopers and other young adults in positions of authority. “I won’t change that,” said Donna in her quiet but firm voice. “I won’t sell those young people out because they have believed in CKF the whole way and are great decision makers.”


It is not easy to come up with the $10,000 to $12,000 a month needed to keep the Foundation’s programs going—but one Australian dollar goes a long way in Cambodia. More than one thousand people receive help through the CKF initiatives.

Nineteen-year-old Jack lives in Cambodia where he helps run the Foundation’s programs in conjunction with the local Khmers. His sister Sam, 20, and her fiancée recently returned to Victoria after a nine-month stint there.

Donna’s aim is for CKF to have 200 sponsors on its books, each contributing $50 a month.

“It is a crucial time at the moment as we’re starting the new school, and I think it has been really helpful for CKF to have had someone on the ground the whole time. Our Khmer staff are great of course and hardly need anyone watching over them,” wrote Jack in an email.

“That is about ten cups of coffee a month each, which would mean we wouldn’t have to constantly fundraise to meet our monthly budgets,” she explained. “But I know that is a lot of money for some people.” ***

While Donna spends most of her time—six out of eight weeks—in Cambodia, Ian works in an unpaid capacity as CKF’s treasurer. The former maintenance fitter/welder and truckie takes care of all the paperwork, organises fundraisers and looks after things on the home front in Woodend. The Cooper’s youngest, Indiana, 15, is still at school and it is he who Donna feels has sacrificed the most for CKF. “The family is rarely together which is unfortunate for him and I do feel guilty about that—but he is such a fantastic kid and so good about everything.” Ian believes CKF has helped his children become levelheaded, well grounded individuals.

He is sanguine about not living at home and hanging out and partying with his mates like many teenagers do. “A lot of my mates are into that kind of thing but they’re good people, they get involved in the Foundation every now and then. I think everyone feels a responsibility to help others; it’s just that most people are so busy with their own lives that they don’t always notice others, especially not people that they’ve never met, as far away as Cambodia. “Whereas our family is set up differently, we’re always thinking about our friends here. We don’t have any life to distract us from people in need because CKF is our life.” For further information visit www.cambodiankidsfoundation.com, email Donna at donna@cambodiankidsfoundation.com or call 0417 271 453

MACEDON RANGES NATURALLY COOL Autumn in the Macedon Ranges is a time for crisp morning walks, decadent dinners, farmers markets and open gardens. Vibrant coloured autumn leaves ranging from cherry reds to sunny yellows line the country lanes and avenues. Vineyards will be humming as vintage begins, share their stories and wine at the many unique cellar doors. Indulge yourself this autumn and visit the Macedon Ranges only an hour from Melbourne and 40 minutes from Daylesford.

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book review

Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers words Danielle White What began as an essay exploring whether paper, handwriting and the print media will disappear from our lives ended as Hamlet’s Blackberry—a New York Times best-seller that offers a practical philosophy for how to build a good life in the digital age. During his research fellowship at Harvard University, American journalist and author William Powers found himself compelled to ponder the current state of what he calls our “digital hyper-connectedness”. In a world that surfs, Googles, Wikileaks, Likes, Tweets, LinksIn, texts, emails, chats, IM pings, nudges and blogs, Powers asks: “Why don’t I have time to think? What’s this lost, restless feeling I can’t seem to shake? Where does the crowd end, and where do I begin? What are those tools doing to us, and can we fix it?”

or silent oath.” Work, family life and friendships are all increasingly affected the more digitally connected people get. At work, Powers found he had a shortened attention span and manically hopped from task to task—and that it was “starting to happen even when he was away from his glowing digital screens.” At home, he noticed what he calls the vanishing family trick: his family would gather together briefly for dinner then, one by one each would announce they had to “just go check something.” Before he knew it they had left each other’s company to go to their respective screens in their own rooms. At play, his friendships had become a series of texts and emails with little face-to-face time. Powers asks: at what cost does the replacement of depth of interpersonal connection with digital connection come to our lives?

Rather than castigating those who connect, Powers ponders the effect perpetual connectedness is having on our lives and suggests we pause long enough to consider how to build a happy, healthy, good life in the digital age.

Drawing primarily on his own experiences and observations and the anecdotal evidence of others, Powers argues that a new code of living has crept up on us: “I will strive to be as connected as possible at all times.” Powers tells the story of how he dropped his mobile phone overboard while on his boat, which meant he couldn’t check his email, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Yammer, or Quora, or his blog stats, or myriad of other time-devouring tasks. He was shocked to find he suffered a kind of nomophobia: the fear of being out of mobile range or, heaven forbid, without internet connection! He suggests the new code of hyper-connectedness is changing the rhythm of life in a fundamental way that is yet to be fully recognised: “We never sat down and consciously decided that this was the code we would live by—it just sort of happened, as if by tacit agreement

He makes an interesting observation that we are even losing the ability to lose ourselves in a crowd: “The old unreachability, the effortless kind you could experience even in the midst of a metropolis, has vanished.” We are always connected. Even removing ourselves physically—such as camping, a seachange or treechange—doesn’t ensure our isolation from the world. Television, iPhones, iPads, mobile phones and computers cause us to remain in what he calls the “the same placeless place”.

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If that’s all sounding a little gloomy, unlike Nicholas Carr’s anti-technology polemic The Shallows, that argues digital devices are eviscerating our ability to concentrate, contemplate and reflect, Hamlet’s Blackberry is not pessimistic. A self-confessed big fan and early adopter of technology, Powers is an optimist. Rather than castigating those who connect, Powers ponders the effect perpetual connectedness is having on our lives and suggests we pause long enough to consider how to build a happy, healthy, good life in the digital age: “Awareness is half the battle, and any effort, no matter how small, counts as progress.” So—as exciting and appealing as new technology and its myriad of uber-cool gadgets might be—how can we make the most of this ever-increasing, high-speed 24/7 connectedness without being burdened by it? To find an answer, Powers turns to the past and handpicks what he refers to as the seven philosophers of screens: Plato, Seneca, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Henry David Thoreau and Marshall McLuhan. Powers tries to draw practical lessons on how to be more balanced and mindful through understanding how key figures dealt with the version of information overload that came with the equivalent technological changes in their respective eras: handwriting, print and telegraph. It is from this the book gets its title: Shakespeare’s Hamlet owns a “table”—the Elizabethan equivalent of today’s Blackberry device, a pocket-sized almanac or calendar that came with blank pages made of specially-coated paper or parchment. A table was a kind of organiser that was used to help clear one’s “distracted globe” (mind): “A harried Londoner or Parisian would

carry one everywhere, jotting down useful information and quick thoughts, perhaps checking off items on a to-do list.” The answer, Powers suggests, to leading happy, productive lives in a connected world is to master the art of disconnecting. At the 2011 Melbourne Writers’ Festival, he told the audience his family had found a way to live more happily in the digital world by unplugging for the entire weekend, an act he called their “Disconnectopia: The Internet Sabbath”. There is a lot to like about this book—not in the Facebook way—but rather in the way that ultimately it encourages us, cheerfully, to find balance: “Whenever I open a gap between myself and my screens, good things happen,” Powers says. An important revelatory book that invites us all to live mindfully: “Place your index finger on your temple,” concludes Powers, “tap twice. It’s all in there.” Ironically, Hamlet’s Blackberry is available to download as an eBook from American publisher HarperCollins.

But if you’d rather sit down in the sun with a real book in your hands, Hamlet’s Blackberry is available from New Leaves for $29.95 Further reading on this topic: Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other


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Stunning weeping maples by the back door 22


GARDENS OF THE MACEDON RANGES

THIS EDITION’S FEATURE GARDEN

Glen Rannoch WORDS STEPHEN RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY KIM SELBY

Chilean Bellflower.

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You will find yourself in a constant state of breathlessness at Glen Rannoch.

A feeling of mystery envelops this two-hectare garden in its cool and steep south-facing valley. From the dark narrow lane leading to its imposing gates to the distant views of the plains all the way to the You Yangs; from the large impressive trees through to the creek with its giant native tree ferns sheltering under towering Eucalypts. Not to mention the fact that it has more than five hundred steps! It is a garden that most fully expresses its true mystery when you wander through it on a classic misty Mount Macedon autumn or winter day. Then you will appreciate the emerging skeletons of the deciduous trees, the sombre aspects of towering conifers, the emerald green of the moss lawns and the vast carpets of Helleborus (winter roses) with their thousands of demurely nodding flowers in shades from white through greens to dusty pink and sinister purples. Glen Rannoch, as most gardens in such a climate, reflects all the seasons in a grand way. From its outrageous mass of spring Rhododendrons, Dogwoods and Azaleas to the electric blues of its summer

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Clockwise from top left: Glen Rannoch’s entrance; the side of the homestead overlooking the valley; a Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa); Pink Japanese windflowers nodding beside one of the many flights of steps


The brilliant autumnal colours of the Japanese Maple walk


Hydrangeas—and finally in autumn the brilliant foliage of the Japanese Maple walk for which this garden is rightly famous. Maples have self-sown to such an extent they actually form a ground cover in some parts of the garden and the various shades they turn in autumn creates the look of a Persian carpet.

The imposing white two-storey house sits in the middle of the garden and looks to the distant plains across the croquet lawn. If you are lucky enough to be there in summer and autumn you look out the windows at a view framed by the stunning red waxy bells of that queen of climbers, the Chilean Bellflower (Lapageria rosea). These must be about the largest of their type in Australia and yet another reason you will be short of breath at Glen Rannoch.

Maples have self-sown to such an extent they actually form a ground cover in some parts of the garden.

Due to the steepness of the site much terracing has taken place—some of the lovely dry stone retaining walls are more than two metres high and often covered in velvet moss, with ferns exploding from the cracks. These have become one of the endearing features of Glen Rannoch, running across the contours from the creek to the charming summerhouse at the top.

Strolling quietly through this garden—which started around what was originally a humble cottage in 1873—is like finding a secret garden, softened by nature with selfsown plants. Yet a sensitive, subtle hand controls it and

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Top: The back lawn sweeping down to the fern-lined creek. Bottom: The bold Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria aruacana) - the national tree of Chile

prevents nature from taking over. Some of the older trees are champions of their type— the towering spire of the Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) has been classified by the National Trust. Other notable trees include the giant Sweet Chestnut under which one of the largest drifts of Hellebores shelters; a large Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana); a stunning Weeping Green Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’) and an impressive Variegated Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Variegata’)—just a few of the horticultural treasures sure to impress. It isn’t just the individual trees that make Glen Rannoch special—it is the grand vision of its owners to preserve and improve this hill station estate without closing the door on mother nature. It has all the characteristics of the Indian Hill station properties developed during the era of the Raj and has throughout its time sheltered its owners from the heat of a Melbourne summer in just the same way that those of Darjeeling and Srinagar did for those escaping the heat of Calcutta and Bombay.

Stephen’s nursery Dicksonia Rare Plants is located at 686 Mount Macedon Rd Mt Macedon. You can also catch him every second Sunday on 3CR Community Radio.

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WHAT’S ON

February 26

March 4

Harvest Picnic At Hanging Rock

The Design Exchange Market

The Age Harvest Picnic at Hanging Rock is a celebration of Victorian food and wine. Small food and wine producers from all around Victoria gather to sample, sell and showcase their delicious array of goods against the magnificent backdrop of Hanging Rock. Taste magnificent regional wines, unusual cheeses, the finest preserves, ice-creams and a great variety of delicious small goods.

The Design Exchange is a designer market that brings together emerging designers and contemporary artists from all over Victoria & NSW. With over 40 quality designers, you’ll find unique children’s clothes, jewellery, ceramics, beautiful clothing, homewares and gifts. Be tempted by yummy food or simply enjoy a cup of coffee while being entertained by local musicians.

Along with exhibiting an amazing array of fine food and wine, the picnic features cooking demonstrations by a number of well known chefs, live music all day and free children’s activities. Bring a picnic blanket and relax with friends under the gum trees.

10am – 4pm The Mining Exchange 8a Lydiard St North Ballarat Gold coin donation (100% of the takings going to Support 4 Cancer www.support4cancer.org.au) www.thedesignexchange.com.au

9am – 5pm www.harvestpicnic.com.au

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Photo: Big Dog Bites

March 18

March 25

Craft Markets Australia at Hanging Rock

Macedon Ranges Cup Day at NMIT Kyneton Park

So much more than a picnic! Hanging Rock has just the right ambiance for a classic market. The scenic rock itself provides a mystical backdrop to the market arena along with beautiful wide green walkways, ample parking and excellent public amenities.

The perfect opportunity to get out for the day and celebrate everything beautiful about the Macedon Ranges. Visit local wine and food stalls, enjoy thoroughbred racing, kids activities, the punters club and much more.

The market is a great family day out with a myriad of top quality stalls to browse. Visitors can explore a wonderful array of Australian made products, listen to live music, savour the freshest seasonal produce and gourmet delights, select from quality home and gift wares, arts, crafts, plants, children’s items, fashion, beauty and more.

www.kyneton.countryracing.com.au 5422 1866

10am – 3pm Half price entry fee ($5 per car) www.craftmarkets.com.au

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WHAT’S ON

Photo: Nicspics

March 31

April 26–May 6

GREAT Macedon Ranges Grand Tour

Daylesford Macedon Produce (DMP) Harvest Week Festival

Everyone loves a drive in the country! A world-class non-competitive motoring tour of the Macedon Ranges and Daylesford Spa regions. The route is approximately 250km and allows for leisurely driving and plenty of time to explore local attractions. Travel along scenic country roads with morning tea at Trentham railway station, lunch at the machinery museum at Maldon, afternoon tea at Malmsbury and dinner catering by well known Kyneton chef Roland Schaedle. Open to anyone with a vehicle 25 years old or older. Locals can enjoy the spectacle of a wonderful selection of classic and vintage vehicles from Gisborne Bowling Club from 8am. www.macedonrangesgrandtour.com.au 5428 5197 or email macedon.grandtour@gmail.com

The Harvest Festival is a celebration of harvest—a practice dating back to a time when the success of local crops dictated the lives of whole communities. It’s a great time to taste your way around the growers, provedores, chefs, restaurateurs and vignerons of the Daylesford Macedon Ranges region, with regional tasting plates and matched local tipples. Visit farm gates and cellar doors for Harvest specials or shop with the locals at farmer’s markets. Join us at forums on sustainable communities, special dinners and classes in everything from composting and preserving to bread making. As you travel across this beautiful region, keep a look out for our DMP farm gate sign— there you’ll meet the passionate locals who care about issues of sustainability and are committed to growing, producing and serving excellent local food and wine. www.dmproduce.com.au


Photo: Bruce Hedge

June 8–11 Woodend Winter Arts Festival WWAF is a celebration of the arts. Whilst the primary focus is music—classical to contemporary—the Festival also presents a strong contemporary literary and visual arts program. WWAF is a major regional arts festival, while maintaining a very European boutique experience. From solo repertoire to intimate chamber recitals by ensembles to small orchestral concerts, it maintains an extraordinary quality of niche programming, presentation and operation. This year’s Festival program will be launched on March 26 and will feature international artists from Holland and Italy as well as the very best in Australia. WWAF also incorporates a community engagement component where professional arts practitioners work with the community in a workshop or presentation capacity. www.woodendwinterartsfestival.org.au

3rd Thursday of every Month Romsey Region Women’s Network Inc The RRWN connects local women to local knowledge and expertise in a warm and welcoming environment. Their first evening in 2011 was attended by women from Romsey, Lancefield, Woodend, Melbourne, Gisborne and surrounding farmlands. If you’re new to the district, looking to find out what’s around, wanting to make new friends or develop formal and informal networks please contact the RRWN. email info@rrwn.com.au


Looking west from the Glenardagh home to the farm’s main ridge, which runs north-south and descends to Pipers Creek


On The Land

On The Land The New Pastoralists—Sidonia WORDS Danielle White PHOTOGRAPHY Danielle & Sam White

Sam White.

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They say farming is in the blood. Well, in this family it certainly runs deep.

Sam White is a sixth-generation pastoralist—twice over mind you—with both his paternal and maternal greatgreat-grandparents first selecting land in the Kyneton district in the late 1800s. “When you think about it, it is a pretty amazing connection to have to the land,” Sam says. “The early settlers in this country worked hard to make a living off the land. My dad’s father turned rabbit-infested granite country into productive farmland when no-one thought he could and my mum’s father is recognised as an Unsung Hero in the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach for droving. So, yeah, there’s no performance pressure or anything,” he adds with a laugh. Sam manages his family’s 2000-acre prime beef and merino wool property, Glenardagh, at Sidonia north-east of Kyneton. The property’s spectacular granite ridges provide a 360-degree view across undulating pastures

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Glenardagh runs Angus and Angus-Charolais cross cattle on its 1000 plus acres

to the Cobaw Ranges in the east, Mt Alexander in the west, Mt Ida in the north and Mt Macedon in the south. “Each day I spend out here I appreciate why Major Mitchell called these parts ‘Australia Felix1’—we really are lucky to be custodians of such beautiful country,” Sam says.

pasturelands peppered with stands of majestic Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and Candlebark (Eucalyptus rubida).” The botanic names roll off his tongue with the ease that familiarity brings.

“Each day I spend out here I appreciate why Major Mitchell called these parts ‘Australia Felix1’—we really are lucky to be custodians of such beautiful country.”

It’s spring and an avenue of candy pink blossom leads to the original 1865 sandstone cottage. Sam points out that decades before gold fever flooded central Victorian towns such as Kyneton with tens of thousands of people, European pastoralists—and the Kooris of the Macedon Ranges, the Kulin people, long before them—had already made the area their home.

“They settled by rivers lined with Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and tended stock on the rich volcanic

With the population explosion of the Gold Rush a lot of land was cleared to grow crops, graze stock for lamb, beef and wool, build huts and supply timber to build towns, fuel fires for warmth and run steam engine industries such as milling.

“I’m taking small steps to restore Glenardagh’s landscape to its natural vegetation, which the Department of Sustainability and Environment classify as grassy woodland; that’s predominantly open eucalypt woodland over a diverse ground layer of native grasses, herbs and shrubs.”

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Top: planting a native Eucalyptus Melliodora (Yellow Box). Bottom: salad bowl pasture including Vic perennial ryegrass and Balansa clover

As well as holding family working bees to plant new copses, Sam and his father have fenced sections of the property to restrict stock access and let natural regeneration occur. “It’s highly beneficial to let the land regenerate in its own way and in its own time. It means we run less stock, but then again, we’re after quality not quantity.” Sam explains eucalypts can take anywhere up to 20 or so years to produce mature leaves and branches and they can outlive humans by hundreds of years—so patience is key and one of Sam’s strong suits. “We also hope our copses will encourage the return of a diversity of wild birds and smaller creatures that seek shelter in the understory.” Sam has used natural, chemical-free pasture management and animal husbandry for the past six years. “I guess I’m almost returning to the very early days, before organic was a buzz-word, when working with nature at nature’s pace was considered best practice.” To assist natural pasture rejuvenation Sam rotates his stock more frequently, rests paddocks and mulches. “Resting paddocks allows them to recover at their own speed—sometimes that’s up to six months or so. Nature gives us signs to let us know when the soil is ready for animals to graze again and also if it has been pushed too hard. So when a rested paddock has a lovely bank of beneficial grass I have to resist the temptation to immediately run stock on it. Instead, I let it set seed then mulch it. We get 200-plus times the seed and the pasture feeds or fertilises itself,” he says. Sam has the soil tested regularly to make sure it’s healthy and any organic and other natural soil improvement is applied only if required. “I want to get to a point where the land naturally provides itself with what it needs and our stock with a variety of grasses or a ‘salad bowl’ of pasture.”


Sam and two year-old son Angus moving sheep with Sam’s kelpie Ruby

When it comes to their health, animals are very intuitive explains Sam. “They know what nutrients they need and they will seek them out—so the more varieties of grasses, legumes and herbs I can provide the healthier they will be.” Sam’s current ‘salad’ ingredients include clovers, rye, medic, cocksfoot, fescue and vetch— even weeds have their day in the sun at Glenardagh. “Traditionally, plants like dock weed and cape weed are considered, well, weeds. But I use them to tell me about the soil’s health and then work to restore it. If you look after the soil, it looks after you.”

to give our stock a natural, healthy and relaxed life. The added benefit is that our produce is also as naturally healthy as possible before it leaves the farm.” Introducing Charolais (Bos taurus) cattle has been another of Sam’s successes. Known for producing more red meat and less fat, the French breed crosses well with other breeds, particularly Angus. “I’ve always loved the look of the white cattle against the ever-changing backdrop of landscape colours. They have a docile temperament and are big-framed cattle, which gives them a certain majesty.”

“Traditionally, plants like dock weed and cape weed are considered, well, weeds. But I use them to tell me about the soil’s health and then work to restore it. If you look after the soil, it looks after you.”

Along with natural pasture management and land regeneration, Sam also takes a holistic approach to animal husbandry. One of the few remaining broad acre (1000 plus acres) properties left in the district, Glenardagh runs 300 cattle (Angus and Charolais) and 1100 sheep (Merino wethers). “We work

Despite the decade-long drought, having fencing and pastures burnt during the Black Saturday fires and having the newly-replaced fences washed away by recent floods—not to mention the subdued wool prices that followed the calamitous collapse of the Wool Reserve Price Scheme in 1991, which one author

39


Restoring Glenardagh’s landscape to natural grassy woodland vegetation

describes as sending “many woolgrowers to the wall”— Sam and his father have not only survived; they’ve overcome and succeeded. “Our intention is to continue to do what we’ve always done, grow healthy, happy cattle specifically for people who appreciate the long-term benefits of an ethical, sustainable, holistic process for the environment, the animals and us.” As nearby townships buzz with seekers of a new kind of gold—unique culinary experiences, great coffee, farmers’ markets, fresh air and respite from a harried city life—pastoralists such as Sam, unsung heroes who live and work on the towns’ fringes, are busy ensuring generations to come will enjoy Nature’s bounty, majesty and inherent wonders. “My parents instilled in me to appreciate what’s gone before, before it’s gone.”

In recognising that his family is a custodian of rural heritage and in patiently working in harmony with nature there’s a certain generosity of spirit associated with Sam’s approach. It brings to mind a Greek proverb that says a community is all the better when people plant trees who’s shade they know they might not live long enough to enjoy.

Australia Felix is Latin for “fortunate Australia” or “happy Australia”. It was a name given by Thomas Mitchell to the lush parts of western Victoria that he explored in 1836 on his third expedition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Felix). Glenardagh is soon to launch its prime natural beef brand Sidonia Hills www.sidoniahills.com.au

Joanne Duncan MP

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Best in Show Style Spot—Lauriston WORDs Kate Skinner PHOTOGRAPHY Tara Pearce

After a childhood in the humidity of Townsville, Queensland, Joe dreamt of endless green pastures and the drama of changing seasons.

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A move to Melbourne in 2003 saw him and his partner, David, living in an inner city penthouse overlooking the Victorian State Library and then an ultra modern Caulfield home. But after a weekend visit to a friend’s home in Newham, a long held dream to move to central Victoria was cemented and in 2010 Joe and David bought The Pines in Lauriston, about seven kilometres from Kyneton. The Pines is a bluestone farmhouse built in the 1860s and set on 30 acres of flat, green workable land. Upon moving there, Joe—a dog groomer and avid animal lover—started breeding prize-winning alpacas. His family of alpacas now include Gracie, Piper, Porsche, Effy, Annie, Dennis, Victor and Alberto to name a few—as well as a menagerie including dogs, cows, three goats rescued from Kinglake after the 2008 bushfires and a very frisky horse called Darcy. Joe explains that breeding alpacas is intensive but something he loves. It is the ideal solution to fill the time when his grooming business slows in the winter months.


Clockwise from top: The 1860s bluestone farmhouse; Joe breeds prize-winning alpacas; a couple of the goats rescued from Kinglake after the bushfires; entry to the house is through a perfect white picket fence

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When you enter the front door—via a path through an English garden contained by a white picket fence— you enter the original bluestone building. The previous owners retained the original home, extending the back to include an open plan living and dining area, kitchen and study. A new bathroom was added and the existing one was given a facelift. The front of the original cottage includes two bedrooms, one a cosy guest room with a 100-year-old antique iron bed taking pride of place. The main bedroom houses two grand armoires picked up on one of David’s many antique sourcing jaunts.

presence. When asked if he believes the home to be haunted, the answer is: “Yes, but I don’t believe he is an evil presence. I try to talk to the presence to assure it that we will not do anything to their home. We are caretakers of this piece of history and have no interest in tearing it down”.

Before entering the main bedroom, Joe explains that a number of people– including himself–have had some unusual experiences in the original part of the home.

Before entering the main bedroom, Joe explains that a number of people—including himself—have had some unusual experiences in the original part of the home. There have been strange noises such as unexplained heavy footsteps and the feeling of a male

Moving through the original cottage, the hallway opens to a roomy, light-filled living area. The weatherboard extension has been sympathetic to the original home, while adding living space.

The polished concrete floors in the kitchen and dining area are a contemporary contrast to the original floorboards in the old cottage. Slab heating offers modern comfort, giving the large French farmhouse-style kitchen a sense of cosiness. Marble benchtops, a butler sink, black AGA cooker and cupboards that conceal all the modern appliances give the kitchen a classic feel.

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Top: Copper pots hang on the original exterior bluestone wall. Bottom: a bronze Mercury figurine is Joe’s favourite piece in the home

Hanging on the original exterior bluestone wall are copper pots, gifts from friends. It is a welcoming, lightfilled room and is clearly the hub of the home. The sunny living area is separated from the kitchen by a custom-made rug, softening the concrete floors. Comfy sofas are situated to make the most of the views of the garden and the open fireplace. A large bronze figurine of the god Mercury features prominently in the living area—Joe’s favourite piece in the home. The room is completed by a stunning John Lloyd landscape painting from Kyneton gallery Boyd Alternatives. Rounding out the extension is David’s study, a book-lined room filled with eclectic pieces collected over many years. Joe and David plan on customising the living area to suit their needs. The space will be extended to include a glassed conservatory that will take advantage of the beautiful garden views and the northerly aspect. Apart from this renovation, however, Joe and David are pretty content with the rest of the house and aim to retain its traditional aspects. As we head out the back door, Joe brandishes from behind his back a large antique key and leads us down a small path. He unlocks the door and we walk into a small, low-beamed room that features an open fireplace, a table and two chairs. Joe explains this is their wine cellar, where they not only store their wine but sit and read on winter nights with a glass of red at their side. “This would have been the help’s room back in the late 1800s. It’s now David’s favourite room to retreat to,” Joe says. When asked if life in central Victoria had lived up to all he thought it would, Joe said: “It’s a true fairytale home and for a little boy growing up in a tiny suburban house in Queensland who yearned for a country life, this really is a dream come true”.

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Clockwise from top left: The John Lloyd landscape; eclectic pieces have been collected over the years; the door to the wine cellar/winter reading room

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The Mill @ Malmsbury (Blyth Brothers Mill) 48


Milling Around

The Story So Far Milling Around—Various WORDS Danielle White PHOTOGRAPHY Kim Selby

Doors to The Mill @ Malmsbury.

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“Water, flour and mutton,” says Stephen Marriott.

“That’s what the thousands of prospectors and settlers needed to survive and thrive in these parts—and pastoralists, millers and butchers helped provide it.” His family is custodian of Montpellier Mill—the striking three-storey bluestone mill that sits nobly on the Campaspe River at Carlsruhe. Imposing and soulful, its vast, austere rudimentary exterior—like many others in this area—belies the vibrant and vital role village flour mills have played in nurturing public and private life since pioneering days. Such was the influx of hungry fossickers and squatters to the Macedon Ranges district in the decade that followed the official discovery of gold in 1851 that one eager soul wrote a letter to the editor of The Argus calling the attention of capitalists “to the splendid opening for a flour mill at Kyneton” (A Kyneton Cornstalk, 1856). By 1880, more than two hundred and fifty flour mills had been built in country Victoria alone. At least 15 of these were in the area now known as the Macedon Ranges Shire. Sadly, as the transient population dwindled with the

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Clockwise from top left: Montpellier Mill; Stephen Marriott and a commissioned portrait of himself inside Montpellier Mill; Montpellier Homestead

depleted alluvial gold—and as advances in technology altered the course of the flour milling industry—many of these noble, community-sustaining buildings were abandoned just decades after they were built. Perhaps the final straw was the bank crisis of 1893 when many mills were either partially or completely dismantled and the materials either sold to satisfy debt collectors or used to erect mills in other areas. Today, only a handful remain and while none is in use as a flour mill, a fortunate few have had new life breathed into them.

Montpellier Mill & Homestead, Carlsruhe Montpellier Mill was built about 1856 by Englishman William Degraves Esq. of William Degraves & Co— a station-owner, flour-miller and importer and buyer of gold and wool. While Degraves’ main business was in Melbourne—he and his brother Charles built a steam flour mill on one acre that fronted Flinders Lane and Degraves Street—the mill at Carlsruhe and another at Riverview just north of Kyneton (known locally as Ward’s Mill and now privately owned by Bill Coleby and family) were regional branches. Both Montpellier Mill and the Montpellier homestead are situated on what was once the head station of pastoralist Charles Ebden’s Carlsruhe Station. Like many bluestone mills in the area, Montpellier Mill was built in colonial vernacular style—a method of construction that uses locally available resources and traditions to meet local needs and reflect its local environment and culture. While some people consider vernacular architecture crude, others such as Frank Lloyd Wright (a famous American architect, interior designer, writer and educator) consider it “better worth study than all the highly self-conscious academic attempts at the beautiful throughout Europe”. Degraves built the homestead as a summer house where he entertained friends and dignitaries. The

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Top: Montpellier Mill’s three-storeyed mezzanine interior. Bottom: local artist Brett Lefebvre

Argus reports in 1869: “His Excellency the Governor with Lady Manners Sutton has been spending a week at Montpellier Farm, near Carlsruhe, the property of Mr. W. Degraves.” Such occasions were not uncommon as the property sat on the Cobb & Co. Road midway between Melbourne and the goldfields. The Marriott family has owned the mill and homestead since they bought it over the phone in 1972 along with about 200 surrounding acres. In keeping with tradition, they have hosted many auspicious occasions including milestone birthdays, weddings and even Dickensian nights. Stephen cites an idyllic description of the homestead from Patricia Clarke’s book Tasma: the life of Jessie Couvreur about the famous London-born Australian novelist who once resided there: “the house faced the tree-lined river, its windows overlooking a scene of quiet, timeless beauty”. Restoring that scene has become a dedicated project for Stephen’s son Hugo, who is to marry at the mill later this year. “Hugo is regenerating the land surrounding the mill and along the Campaspe, which was denuded of its native vegetation by early settlers and miners as well as to provide wood for the mill’s steam engine and clear paddocks for wheat,” Stephen says. At present, local artist Brett Lefebvre is the mill’s artistin-residence. Brett, who pays rent to the Marriott family of one painting a year, is working on a landscape based on an original late-1800s photo of the mill—replete with chimney stack and wheat sheaves in the surrounding paddocks. The mill might have ceased operating as a flour mill by 1870, but the tradition of enjoying and sharing the property has continued ever since.

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Top: Dhaba at the Mill co-owner Jessi Singh stands beside an original flour bagging machine which was specifically shipped for the mill from New York. Bottom: Making chapati— Dhaba goes through about 200 kilograms of flour a week

Willis Brothers’ Steam Flour Mill, Kyneton Unused as a flour mill for many years, the Willis Brothers’ Steam Flour Mill in Kyneton’s Piper Street has recently become home to an eclectic mix of endeavours: a B&B, cafe, ice creamery and lolly shop, yoga studio and an Indian restaurant. “Setting up our restaurant is a return to my childhood,” says Jessi Singh who co-owns the Indian restaurant, Dhaba at the Mill, with his wife Jennifer. “In India, village flour mills are an important part of village life. Families bring their wheat, rice and corn to be ground at the village mill—so it’s very communityfocused.” Dhaba goes through about 200 kilograms of flour a week. “The sound of fresh chapati dough slapping from hand to hand is so familiar to me,” adds Jennifer, “it is the sound of village life”. Upstairs, yoga students attending a Wednesday evening class breathe in a curiously calming blend of incense, coffee and curry. Outside pigeons atop the ironclad roof coo harmoniously and distant cattle low on the eve of sale day. “I like that about the space,” says Dr Fiona Cairns, Indian-trained Hatha Yoga teacher and owner of Illuminate Yoga Studio. “It’s much like India where the rich fabric and constant exchanges of everyday life keep you connected, grounded.” Like many mills, Willis Brothers’ Mill has abundant hard surfaces of substantial bluestone pitchers, enormous beams of wood and remnant metal milling machinery and yet the space is warm, inviting, relaxing and soulnourishing. After spending a year and a half in India, Fiona returned to Australia in search of a deeper, richer connection and more mindful way of being. The mill’s attic had the right energy: “the evolution of local life is held fast in these

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Dr Fiona Cairns finds the space at Illuminate Yoga Studio in Willis Brothers’ Steam Flour Mill soul-nourishing

bluestone walls,” Fiona says. “Since opening the yoga studio many people have commented on the wonderful feel of the space. They often tell me they don’t want to leave!” “Spiritual teachings are often seen as separate from the rest of life (the ‘Sunday best’ idea),” reflects Fiona, “but if we engage with spirituality like that then I think we’ve missed the point. Yoga offers tools and guidance to unify mind, body and soul so we can live happily and in harmony with our natural environment and fellow beings every day, not just Sunday.”

***

Some private, some shared, the impenetrable and foreboding presence of these monumental structures masks their ability to transform; to invite and house new life and nurture new ways of being. And yet, in some ways, perhaps things haven’t changed all that much. These mills started out providing livelihoods, shelter and sustenance to a continuous stream of settlers and prospectors just as today they provide the same to those who live, eat, work, play, relax and unwind within their venerable basalt walls.

As with all change, time and timing are important: “The community is now ready, you might even say ‘hungry’, for spiritual food of a kind that perhaps they couldn’t have digested in the 1860s.”

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other known mills Other known mills – each with their own story to tell: 1841

Willoughby’s Cornmill—Tylden

1855

Joseph Hall’s Windmill—Green Hill

1855

J.W. Ellis’s Coliban Water & Steam Mill—Malmsbury

1855

The Argyle Steam Flour Mill—Kyneton

c.1856

Two steam flour mills—Lauriston (possibly lost with expansion of Coliban Reservoir c.1900)

c.1857-9 Ward’s Mill—Riverview 1860s

Rannards Flour Mill—Kyneton

1861

Blyth Brothers’ Steam Flour & Malt Mill—Malmsbury

1863

Milvain Brothers & J. Bryden, Portable Flour Mill—Malmsbury

1866

Walter Bryden’s Flour Mill—Newham

Unknown Radnor Flour Mills—Kyneton 1880s

JF McKenzie & Co Water Mill—Riddells Creek

1880s

Swan & Co.—Romsey

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THIS EDITION’S FEATURE BIKE RIDE

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ON YA BIKE

Zig Zag Wines On Ya Bike—Malmsbury PHOTOGRAPHY Jacqui Henshaw stylist Caroline Westmore

Start: Mollison St Malmsbury Finish: Zig Zag Wines, 210 Zig Zag Road Malmsbury Ca

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Route: If you’re up for a leisurely day out on your bike, you might like to meander around some of the lovely local attractions in the Malmsbury township before heading off to taste some wine. Natalia & Nikola strolled along the main street past the old bluestone church (now a private residence), stopped for coffee and cake at Merchants of Malmsbury, then continued west past the botanical gardens and lake (on the left).

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The Malmsbury Botanic Gardens were established in 1863 and at the back of them you’ll get a great view of the Malmsbury Viaduct.

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Distance: 4.9km

Continuing along the main street you’ll pass The Mill@Malmsbury—the historic former Blyth Brothers Mill, built in 1861, see page 50—on your right before you turn left into the Daylesford-Malmsbury Road (C316). (And if you really like historic bluestone buildings, you can also take a short detour to have a look at the train station— built in 1862). Otherwise, continue along for approximately 2km and turn right into Zig Zag Road. Follow this for roughly another 2km until you reach a rise in the road and on your left is Zig Zag Winery. Terrain: Bitumen roads until the driveway of Zig Zag Wines. Some hills, narrow shoulders. Things of Note: Zig Zag Winery was planted in 1972 and was the third winery planted in the Macedon Ranges. Their 2010 Riesling has won two Bronze medals and the 2009 Sparkling Shiraz won the silver medal at Daylesford Wine Show and was second in its class at Kyneton Wine Show. The winery is open Thursday to Monday 10am-5pm. They also serve delicious food platters, including dips, cheeses, antipasto and local smallgoods. Phone 5423 9390, www.zigzagwines.com.au, www.macedonrangeswine.com.au

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Vintage bikes, helmets & accessories supplied by Woodend Cycles Shop 15/130 High St Woodend, 5427 2662 Jewellery supplied by Mollisons 116-118 Mollison St Kyneton, 0419 001 518 Necklaces, scarves, belts supplied by Made in Malmsbury 69 Mollison St E Malmsbury, 5423 2551 Vintage Fashion supplied by Be Witchery www.facebook.com/BeWitchery Models: Natalia & Nikola Miletic

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Tom Walsh with his grandson, two year-old Edmond Walsh, at Railway Farm


Macedon Ranges Produce

Macedon Ranges Produce Spud Country— Trentham WORDS Ellie Parker PHOTOGRAPHY Big Dog Bites

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Tom has lived on Railway Farm his whole life; Mary immigrated from Ireland as a young nurse and lived in Kyneton before marrying Tom

“I can’t shake your hand,” says Tom Walsh as he steps down from his tractor. He extends his arms to reveal why—his hands are completely caked in luscious red Trentham soil. 66

It’s a crisp spring day and Tom has just finished the morning rounds on Railway Farm’s six hundred odd acres. Introductions immediately fall by the wayside, what with Tom’s soil-clad mitts and the ominous-looking spring storm that is hurtling towards us from across the fields. Instead, we scuttle inside and talk spuds. Soil isn’t a bad introduction to spuds really. One thing you quickly learn when talking to a Trentham potato farmer is how important soil is and how incredibly fertile Trentham soil is in particular. The area boasts a high ferric oxide and clay content with a strong structure and friable consistency—in other words, ideal spud country. “It’s good soil for everything except tomatoes,” confirms Tom. “I don’t think my Irish ancestors were interested in tomatoes anyway. They were all about the potatoes.” Trentham soil isn’t a bad introduction for Tom Walsh either. You could almost say it runs in his blood. Tom comes from a long line of Irish potato farmers. They settled in Trentham in the 1850s and 1860s to escape the years of blight-related famine in Ireland. Immediately recognising the prime potato-growing real estate, many Irish immigrants also capitalised on the need to supply produce to the booming goldfields nearby.


According to local legend, gold was discovered by accident in Blackwood in December 1854 when two pastoralists wandered up “The Lerdy” (Lerderderg River) in search of two lost bullocks. In the following years a boom of 70,000 prospectors flocked to the area between Trentham and Blackwood, establishing one of central Victoria’s largest tent cities during the gold rush era.

all around me, I never knew any different. I remember there being hundreds of growers here in Trentham. By the 1940s Trentham railway station would load more potatoes in a year than any other railway station in Victoria. Everywhere you went, potatoes were the main topic of conversation. I could talk potatoes forever. I could write books about them. I used to think that the two best days of the year were the day we finished planting and the day we finished digging.”

“I could talk potatoes forever. I could write books about them.”

In order to feed this influx of people, the government released Crown land for farming and the Walsh family bought what was then heavily forested land at the cost of one pound an acre. It might sound like a bargain now, but it was deceptively costly. “The cost per acre was not so cheap, as the land had to be cleared with hand tools. The area was covered in heavy rainforest; the trees were big and the red soil was covered with a great deal of stone. Fifty to sixty acres was considered to take a lifetime to clear and you also had to make a living at the same time,” Tom says. As a third generation potato farmer, spuds have been his life’s work.

Tom recalls that as a youngster he was in charge of building the “spud pits”—tent-like mounds of potatoes covered in hay. A horse-drawn wagon would empty thousands of bags of potatoes into a tent-shaped pile, after which Tom would collect straw, straighten it out and thatch it over the spuds to ensure they could breathe but were also protected from the wind, rain and frost. As Tom explains, the benefit of spud pits was that you could safely keep the potatoes longer than usual, and then sell them for a higher price during the off season, competing with more expensive potatoes from neighbouring districts.

“For as long as I can remember, the potatoes were just

At its peak, Trentham’s potato farming community

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consisted of about one hundred farmers. This number was further expanded by around three hundred additional itinerant workers who flocked to the region every harvest season. According to Tom, these workers were the unsung heroes of Trentham’s potato heritage. Generally speaking these workers were alcoholics and couldn’t hold down a weekly job, but were well suited to short term harvest work in the fields. “They were tough men, they would be out in the paddocks on the coldest winter days digging and dodging the cold showers. Many had seen better days but were brought down to this lifestyle by the drink. There were many colourful characters that we got to know individually over the years. They have gone now, along with this industry, gone and living in anonymity, in the city on welfare. Stories about them could fill volumes.”

arrive well before harvest season in order to secure accommodation before the winter frosts set in— “so very often they would sit around for a month just so that they would have a good hut for the winter. In that regard we perhaps attracted a better calibre of worker.” There aren’t many historic spud huts left in Trentham these days. Many were burnt down by overzealous workers enjoying post-harvest season celebrations—Tom recalls one frosty winter’s night when he awoke to find his largest spud hut ablaze. “I hurried out and counted the men and there were only four, but then I saw the other one sitting on the front porch absolutely drunk, with the house burning down around him. I dragged him off just in time as his backside was on fire.”

“We miss the old days when there was such a strong community— the blacksmith, the butcher, the barber shop, bookmaker, the railway station and so on. They are just memories now.”

The workers would stay in rudimentary timber spud huts, scattered throughout the land. These huts were highly sought after by the men, who would often

Tom admits the local potato industry is on the decline. “During the last 20 years the industry has become unprofitable due to cheap imports and the big supermarkets’ control of market prices. As a result only


Spud Quick Facts • Trentham potato September

harvest

season:

April

until

• Trentham potato sow season: October and November • Spud hut—a rudimentary wooden hut used to house itinerant potato harvesters, often sleeping 1-2 workers • Spud pit—an old fashioned way of keeping potatoes longer, these pits would cover the potatoes with tent-shaped thatched hay to keep out frost, wind and rain

• Spudfest—Trentham’s annual potato festival, often occurring during harvest season (includes a tour of Trentham’s remaining spud huts) www.trenthamspudfest.org.au/ • Snowflake potato—also known as the “mortgage lifter” in the old days, used to grow as big as your boot and was often shaped like a boot, depending on whether the growing season was dry or wet • Potato varieties grown in the area include Pontiac, Coliban, Nicola and Dutch Cream

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One of the surviving spud huts on Railway Farm

a few potatoes are grown here now and soon there will be none. It is a pity. We miss the old days when there was such a strong community—the blacksmith, the butcher, the barber shop, bookmaker, the railway station and so on. They are just memories now.” Tom’s bright blue eyes sparkle when he talks of yesteryear. As he sits in his cosy kitchen while his wife Mary makes a pot of real Irish tea and cooks up a batch of drop scones on the cast iron stove, it is hard to ignore this farmer’s fondness for his crop, his ancestry, and his secret love, the fiddle.

Still an avid fiddle player, Tom plays with his fellow “chaps” at the monthly Irish Night gig at the Trentham Hotel, as well as on special occasions like family christenings and birthdays. According to his wife Mary, it’s the most important part of his life, potatoes and family aside. “When somebody starts playing music I can’t resist picking up my fiddle,” Tom says. “Sometimes I’d be so tired after a day’s work and I’d have to go out and play somewhere at a function and I’d be thinking ‘I wish I didn’t have to go’, but when I got there I would forget all about it. Instead of being tired the next day, I’d come home mentally refreshed and full of life. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

As I leave Railway Farm, Mary sends me off with a bundle of freshly-picked daffodils and Tom walks me to my car. He finally shakes my hand and whispers into my ear, “now be sure to write about the potatoes, not me. The potatoes are far more interesting”.

“This was a home where there was always music,” Tom recalls. The home he speaks of is Railway Farm’s picturesque cottage surrounded by an impressive field of yellow daffodils, built by Walsh’s paternal grandfather in the 1870s. “My mother played music in here every night. We grew up around the piano, having a singsong every night. My parents later built the tennis court in 1938 and people would always come here on a Sunday after mass, to play tennis or music.”

As I leave Railway Farm, Mary sends me off with a bundle of freshly-picked daffodils and Tom walks me to my car. He finally shakes my hand and whispers into my ear, “now be sure to write about the potatoes, not me. The potatoes are far more interesting”. Now there’s a farmer who really does love his spuds.

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career spot

The Hedge Doctor Career Spot—Lauriston WORDS Danielle White PHOTOGRAPHY Big Dog Bites

Dr Kate Ellis.

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The ancient country craft of hedgelaying has been in poor health in Australia for many years. But that’s changing now that Dr Kate Ellis has decided to breathe new life into its revival. When people such as Paul Bangay and Tonia Todman stop to ask you what you’re doing it’s highly likely you’re doing something unique and that’s exactly what happened to Kate. “When I was laying a hawthorn hedge for St Agnes Homestead beside a fairly busy road just north of Kyneton lots of people pulled over to ask me what I was doing; including Paul and Tonia,” Kate says.

“The artisanry and an appreciation of the purpose and benefits of hedgerows to the environment were also lost,” Kate says. “It’s interesting to learn that lots of people don’t realise their overgrown, gappy, unwieldy hawthorn hedge is actually a very effective form of fencing with great cultural significance—most people regard them as an outdated weed and just end up letting them deteriorate or pulling them out altogether.”

It’s interesting to learn that lots of people don’t realise their overgrown, gappy, unwieldy hawthorn hedge is actually a very effective form of fencing with great cultural significance.

“I was pleased people stopped because they were either concerned I was a philistine who was ‘butchering’ trees or they were curious and loved the result of my work. The fact that no one recognised what I was doing proved to me just how lost the craft of hedgelaying has become in Australia.”

If you’ve flown into the UK or Europe (or even just picked up a brochure dreaming that one day you might do so), you’ll recall the quintessential vista of a verdant patchwork of fields bordered with dark green hedgerows. “Even in the UK, where the tradition is much older than it is in Australia, about 200,000 miles of hedgerow were ripped out in the 1940s to 1970s to expand the land,” Kate says. But it wasn’t just the hedges that were lost in the process.

Hedgelaying is thought to date to when people first began to keep livestock in confined areas. “Julius Caesar first mentions hedges in his report on the Battle for Gaul in 55 BC,” Kate says. Admiring the way the ancient Belgic Nervii warrior tribe used hedgerows to defend themselves against his invasion Caesar wrote: ‘cut into slender trees and bent them over so that many branches came out along the length. They finished this off by inserting brambles and briars, so that these hedges formed a defence like wall which could not only not be penetrated, but not even seen through’. “The basic techniques described by the Emperor show how the craft has barely altered in 2000 years,” Kate says. Kate—who holds an honours degree in Environmental

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Science from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in Ecology from the University of St Andrews in Scotland— is the only female hedgelayer in Australia. “It’s always nice to be the first at something and in some ways it is significant that I’m the only female practising hedgelaying as it is an ancient craft that has traditionally been the domain of men,” Kate says. “But what’s really important to me is that my children, Frankie and Maggie, see their mother practising and enjoying a physically demanding and creative outdoor trade.” Along with her husband Brett, Kate has been landscaping for eight years and hedgelaying the past three years in the UK and Croatia before returning home to Australia. “When we were living in Scotland, I remember the first time I saw a guy laying a hedge with his chainsaw and billhook and I thought, ‘what on earth is he doing?’ It looked so brutal. When he explained to me that he was laying the hedgerows that give the UK countryside its unique natural and enduring beauty, it was then that I decided I wanted to learn the craft.” On returning to Australia, Kate spent some time with James Boxhall, of Sticks and Stones in Tasmania, who

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had been taught by England’s professional hedgelayer Karl Liebscher. “I was really fortunate to get an opportunity to learn the craft from James—his devotion and skills are inspiring,” Kate says. Traditional hedgelayers used a swag of tools that included slashers, bowsaws, axes, fencing mauls, pole hooks, sharpening stones and billhooks. Today they use a chainsaw and a billhook. Kate uses a Stafford billhook made for her by a Tasmanian blacksmith—a simple, short-handled, lightweight, single-bladed version of the Yorkshire style. The work is seasonal and needs a fair degree of brute force. “Most hedgelaying is done in winter while the plants are dormant and there are fewer thorns,” Kate says (thorns being the inspiration for her business name Thornology). Her forearms are covered in scratches. “Unlike hedge trimming, which doesn’t restore the hedge and tends to create woody gaps, hedgelaying cuts and lays the trunk over, which causes new vigorous growth to sprout from the base.” As with many old country crafts their practice and


A recently laid hedge with the first new shoots at St Agnes Homestead in Kyneton

admiration can dwindle with each passing generation so Kate is happy to be part of its resurgence. “The revival of hedgelaying at this time is owed in great part to the conservation and sustainability movements gaining a broader audience,” Kate says. “Fortunately, in the Macedon Ranges area at least, many old hedges have avoided being ripped out. Whilst they might look a bit shabby now, laying will return them to their former intended glory and purpose.” Much like the simple and timeless appeal of other naturally imperfect yet intricate forms such as a bird’s nest, Kate’s work attracts many admirers. “Once they’re laid, people find the hedges so appealing because they look like they have always been there; there are no unnaturally shiny metals, wires, plastics or paints— just nature’s whimsical palette and its extraordinary desire to thrive.” As well as laying several private hedges in the Macedon Ranges area, Kate has been invited to lay the hawthorn hedge in the Heritage Orchard at Werribee Park Mansions. She has also been commissioned to lay the Kyneton Botanic Gardens’ existing but desperately neglected and overgrown 300 metre hawthorn hedge as part of the gardens’ refurbishment. “Kyneton’s

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Botanic Gardens will be the first in Australia to have a hawthorn hedgerow,” says Kate proudly. Far from just being “on trend” with the latest in landscape gardening, Kate is passionate about her craft and dedicated to improving the understanding people have of the benefits that hedgerows give to the environment. “Laying existing hedgerows not only works out cheaper than standard fencing because it uses an existing resource—it also adds significant environmental conservation value. Well laid hedges can last for two hundred years or more and provide a great windbreak for stock, which helps reduce lamb mortality rates as well as promotes biodiversity by providing an important wildlife habitat for smaller creatures.”

Once they’re laid, people find the hedges so appealing because they look like they have always been there; there are no unnaturally shiny metals, wires, plastics or paints— just nature’s whimsical palette and its extraordinary desire to thrive.

Kate is also reviving traditional “hurdle making” and introducing it to the Australian garden landscape. Also known as “wattle work” (although willow or hazel wood

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are most commonly used woods) the craft of handweaving flexible, green, sapling wood into useful rustic garden accents, trellises, borders and fences dates to the Bronze Age. Kate sustainably harvests young willow saplings from the banks of local rivers, which helps Thornology maintain a low carbon footprint. So far Kate has made woven fences for Paul Bangay and a number of his clients, East St Kilda’s Steiner Primary School’s community garden as well as various garden structures for interior designer Stuart Rattle. “I guess my main aim is to regentrify the countryside—to reintroduce these old cultural artforms and make this region the hedgelaying capital of Victoria,” Kate says.

www.thornology.com or email Kate on thornology@gmail.com, 0466 643 065


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Teeing off at Woodend Golf Course


Merry Spirit

Gone Golfin WORDS Kristine Portier PHOTOGRAPHY Big Dog Bites

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There are more quotes and jokes about golf than perhaps any other topic on the planet.

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Mark Twain was not the only person to say that golf is a good walk spoiled. But Kristine Portier discovers that here in the Macedon Ranges we have an abundance of ‘good walks’ to choose from—and there’s a lot to enjoy when it comes to golf.


Trentham Golf Course


woodend ‘It’s called ‘golf’ because all the other four letter words were taken.’ - Raymond Floyd The Woodend golf course has existed for more than one hundred years. Situated behind the Avenue of Honour, it has had some changes during that time— but the current layout has remained for about half a century. Victoria’s oldest and most prestige club, Royal Melbourne, was founded only 17 years before in 1891. ‘When I die, bury me on the golf course so my husband will visit.’ - Author unknown Since moving to Woodend I have come to know the golf course intimately as it’s the only place I can spend any time with my husband. Luckily, the 18-hole, par-66 course is a delight to visit, whether you’re slogging around it with your clubs Par refers to the number of shots or not. The allocated per hole—a par four means first tee gives players have four shots to get the ball an indication in the hole for par. If they get it in five of the calibre shots they will have one over par, in of the scenery six shots two over par and so on. Par with unspoiled 66 means players have 66 shots for the views across entire course. Woodend to Mount Macedon. Enormous pine trees line the path to the first, dwarfing you as you prepare for your opening shot. Depending on whether you slice or hook your tee shot will determine whether you become more closely acquainted with the giant pines or gain a clearer view of the Woodend township. Either way it hardly seems like a penalty (although the more serious golfers among us may disagree). As well as its quality scenery, the course is home to some of the most beautiful birds in the area. Lorikeets and rosellas flash past in a blur of colour, and kookaburras laugh heartily at the efforts of those trying to play. Other animals can be spotted along the course, including a herd of cattle generally masticating by the perimeter fence of the 15th tee, looking decidedly unimpressed by the display. Likewise, Kyneton Golf Course is space to be shared with our local wildlife—kangaroos, koalas and birds. For Michael Barrett, the beauty of the course at Kyneton and the health benefits are not the only reasons for getting out there and having a hit. A Melburnian who frequents the Kyneton course, he points out that “a golf course, by necessity, takes up a vast amount of space. Outside the confines of these clubs, space is a commodity that

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The motorised rope pull at Woodend’s 16th hole

is being divided, shrunk and redivided perpetually.” But these divisions are not detectable on the golf course “where you can relish the generous amounts of space”. ‘Golf is a game in which you yell ‘fore’, shoot six, and write down five.’ - Paul Harvey Woodend has a couple of unique attractions besides the backdrop and the wildlife. The 13th hole has a blind green, making it Woodend’s answer to Amen Corner at Augusta. Does Augusta have a bell to ring though, when the group Augusta National Golf Club is a in front of you famous men’s golf club located in is finished on the Augusta, Georgia. It has been home green? I actually to the annual Masters Tournament— don’t know, but one of the four major championships sure in professional golf—since 1934. The Woodend does. Forget nickname ‘Amen Corner’ was first used in 1958 to describe where some yelling ‘fore’ and hoping you don’t of the most exciting golf had taken knock someone’s place. block off. Once the group ahead of you has putted-in for a par they ring the bell like town criers to alert you that it’s safe to tee off. What a gorgeous (and OH&S compliant) idea. ‘The ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody put a flagstick on top.’ - Pete Dye That’s basically what someone did on Woodend’s 16th hole. It’s all uphill—and when you’ve finally putted in and think your work is done, think again. You still have to climb the rest of the hill to get to the 17th. A motorised rope pull has been installed to help you get there though—a particularly thoughtful as well as incredibly novel touch.


Beautiful views are par for the course at Woodend Golf Course

GISBORNE ‘The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can’t see him laughing.’ - Phyllis Diller Once you’ve warmed up your clubs at Woodend, why not try a longer course in the region? With several par fives and more sand traps than the Frankston foreshore, the course at Gisborne is a challenge even for the seasoned professional. James Wright has been the resident Professional Golfers Association (PGA) pro there for more than twenty-five years and he assures me he wouldn’t laugh at anyone having a crack. Well, no more than a giggle, anyway. James saw first-hand the rise of golf’s popularity in Australia: “When I started playing, it was still a sport for older people. Then in the eighties, the Greg Norman phenomenon took hold and people of all ages were just flooding the courses. Beyond his talent, it was the charisma he brought to the game that really made it popular.”

doesn’t have the same appeal. ‘These greens are so fast I have to hold my putter over the ball and hit it with the shadow.’ - Sam Snead Mick Bowen, who has worked at Gisborne Golf Club “for longer than I care to remember” declares it’s “the best golf course this side of the Yarra river”. He believes that the quick greens, couch grass and the sandtraps make it so. And the kangaroos don’t hurt either. “There’s about one hundred or so on the course but they don’t get in the way.” Good to know, since Gisborne already has plenty of obstructions for the average thwacker without moving obstacles making life harder.

James explains that “keeping your head down is just an old wives tale—definitely do not keep your head down! You have to watch the ball. I won’t even charge for that tip.” He continues that you’re never too old to take up golf—anyone from nine to 79 can start. “Of course, the younger you begin the better you’ll get because flexibility is greater when you’re younger.” That being said, golf is still one of the few sports people can take up later in life and become good at. Gymnastics just

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TRENTHAM ‘A golf ball is like a clock.  Always hit it at 6 o’clock and make it go toward 12 o’clock.  But make sure you’re in the same time zone.’ - Chi Chi Rodriguez Precious advice from Mr Rodriguez that any golfer playing at the Trentham Golf Club would do well to remember. The front nine at Trentham look narrow and feel narrower as Golf courses are usually 18 holes and your ball inevitably are often spoken about in halves; as ricochets from one in, the front nine and tree to another the back nine. down the fairway. Apparently trees are 90 per cent air, so the old golf saying goes. Well, that remaining ten per cent certainly seems to take up a lot of space at Trentham Golf Course. But once you embrace Interestingly, Mythbusters broke the trees for their the 90 per cent air tree fallacy, beauty rather than discovering that only 25 of 100 balls attack them with hit cleared some unhappily situated your club for their trees at Augusta. So the saying interference, the should really be changed to ‘trees are 75 per cent wood’. Makes you feel course takes on a charming air. From a bit better, right? the lush green fairways and the native bird-life (mind the overprotective magpies if you visit in spring) to the flowering yellow wattles and stunning rhododendrons, you’ll be happy pounding away even in the bunkers because the scenery is so delightful. ‘A ball will always come to rest halfway down a hill, unless there is sand or water at the bottom.’ - Henry Beard

A couple of standout holes at Trentham are on the back nine and run beside a picturesque little dam. So long as you don’t finish up in the drink, the eleventh and twelfth holes provide a splendid watery backdrop. A family of newborn ducks waddled past us as if to instill upon our group just how tranquil Trentham is. ‘I’ll always remember the day I broke ninety. I had a few beers in the clubhouse and was so excited I forgot to play the back nine.’ - Bruce Lansky Both Trentham and Gisborne have clubhouses where there’s always something going on (and a cold beer to calm your nerves after your round). Gisborne also has function facilities to cater for large events such as weddings. The Woodend clubhouse is a smaller affair that is sometimes unattended and relies on an honesty system for players paying their green fees. But since the sport of golf attracts only the most upstanding of citizens this isn’t a problem. ‘Golf is so popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be bad.’ - A.A. Milne While it is true that golf can be one of the most frustrating and infuriating sports to play, there is simply no denying that it is completely addictive and enjoyable, regardless of the score on your card at the end of the day. Locals and visitors to the Macedon Ranges are spoilt for choice when it comes to golf courses in the region and they all have something unique to offer. So why not take a trip to a golf club in the area and experience for yourself the beauty and the beast of the game of golf. ‘Gone golfin’... be back dark thirty.’ - Author unknown

If you want to get out in the spectacular Macedon Ranges countryside and enjoy some beautiful scenery, some exercise and a hit of golf, you can visit: Gisborne Golf Club - $35 to play, clubs and buggies available to rent, Daly Street 5428 2493 Kyneton Golf Club - $25 to play, 61 Blackhill Road 5422 1151 Lancefield Golf Club - $20/$10 to play, 34 Heddle Road 5429 1922 Mount Macedon Golf Club - $20/$15 to play, 282 Mount Macedon Road 5426 1650, 5426 1422

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Romsey Golf Club - Park Lane 5429 5385 Woodend Golf Club - $25 to play, Davy Street 5427 2261 Trentham Golf Club - $25 to play, 54 Falls Road 5424 1046 If you are interested in taking a lesson from one of the most experienced golf pros in the area, please contact James Wright through the Gisborne Golf Club on 5428 2493.


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In The Community

100.7 Highlands Fm WORDS Kristine Portier PHOTOGRAPHY KIM SELBY

Many a person would likely admit to harboring a whimsical desire for their 15 minutes of fame.

Many a person would also likely admit that their preference would be to achieve this fame via some route related to talent—such as singing, writing, acting or myriad of other options involving some artistic skill. Sadly, when starting out many a person lacks the requisite level of skill deemed necessary to reach their dream. So where does that leave us when publishers, talent agents, producers and the other “powers that be” continue to close doors in our optimistic faces? It leaves us in the position of having to make our own opportunities, that’s where—and I have the very place to begin. If you are fortunate enough to live in the Macedon Ranges area, 100.7 Highlands FM is the community radio station that could be your springboard to stardom. Or at the very least fill you with that warm and fuzzy feeling you get from supporting and participating in the local community. The station began in 1997 and is one of 55 community radio stations in Victoria. Highlands FM is run by volunteers, from the presenters to the board members, which gives an indication of the commitment the staff have for the station. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and streaming live online, the station showcases a smorgasbord of genres and styles from a host of committed presenters. There are shows dedicated to discussing local news, shows highlighting regional art exhibitions and events, shows devoted to

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Braemar College students (left to right) - Zoe Shepherd, Brayden Smith, Lucy Fleming, Morgan Ellis, Sebastian Antoine, Sam Hasell, Dillon Croft, and Nicky Stevens, Teacher of Media at Braemar College

rock, metal, top 40, Elvis, religion. The list goes on. Chris Yeend has been involved at Highlands FM for more than five years, most recently as football commentator at Riddell District Football League matches. He has nothing but rave reviews about the station, his fellow volunteers and the chances it has presented to him and the community. “The opportunities are there to do whatever you want at Highlands FM. You don’t have to have any experience, you just have to want to have a go.”

with Highlands FM, and was rewarded with unfaltering help from station stalwarts Ken Helmore and Charles Gaal. Ken and Charles helped train the students in radio announcing and dedicated themselves and their time to enhancing the Braemar students’ experience.

“The opportunities are there to do whatever you want at Highlands FM. You don’t have to have any experience, you just have to want to have a go.”

Chris had his first go in his final year of high school. He loved it so much that his VCE score ended up slightly less than he was hoping for because of the time he invested in the station. It didn’t matter though. In pursuing a career in the media Chris found the experience he gained from the station was of enormous benefit to him.

There’s now a new bunch of students who are finding Highlands FM is an incredible hands-on way to learn more about their studies. A group of media students from Braemar College in Mount Macedon have a weekly show called The Airheads that is pre-recorded on a Thursday and airs on a Tuesday. Nicky Stevens, media teacher at Braemar, had the inspired idea to join forces

Year 9 students Sam Hasell, Lucy Fleming, Zoe Shepherd and Seb Antoine, along with year 10 students Morgan Ellis and Dylan Croft, have been presenting at Highlands FM for the past year. Seb described the benefits they derive from presenting at the station, saying “volunteering

at Highlands FM is fun—as well as helping us to learn skills we need such as music, mixing and public speaking. I would be interested in a career in radio.” While agreeing with Seb, Sam also divulged his fondness for his 15 minutes of fame admitting “it’s great to hear your own voice on radio...” Who can argue with that? The students present on any topic that takes their fancy. At the time of writing Sam and Seb were preparing to host a show on the subject of ghosts and ghosthunting methods, with particular emphasis on the resident Braemar ghost.

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“If we were a bit more organised we’d be playing the Ghostbusters theme song,” Seb declared. Previously they have discussed conspiracy theories, conducted interviews and played and dissected favourite bands and songs. Some of the students have been presenting on the same topic for several months, such as Dylan and Morgan, who were recording another instalment of their Beatles Through the Ages segment. Anything is possible. Chris is keen to point out that anyone with an interest in radio is welcome at Highlands FM. You certainly don’t have to be a student or a youngster with dreams of becoming the next Hamish or Andy. Indeed, Chris insists there’s room for everyone and anyone, whether you know your mixer from your mike or not. So perhaps there are a few budding Brigitte Duclos out there, or Neil Mitchells? As happens with the Braemar students, someone who has been around the station for a while will be there to help newcomers find their feet until they feel confident they know their way around the equipment, the process and the code of conduct. As a community radio station—funded substantially through government grants—there are certain rules to which the station must adhere. One of the most important is that no more than five minutes of advertisements or sponsor announcements can be played in each hour. That’s a huge difference from the commercial stations, many of whom spruik an appalling

“20 minutes ad-free” (lucky audience!). Two community radio stations that have capitalised on audience disenchantment with the commercial stations are RRR and PBS. With a combined weekly audience of more than 500,000, they lead the way in the community broadcasting stakes. They both include such diverse segments and presenters that people from all walks of life can find something of interest to them. Highlands FM has the potential to emulate PBS and RRR and grow exponentially. As Chris said: “If the right people go in there and steer it in the right direction they could take the station to the moon and back.” It really is in the hands of the community. If you have an idea for a segment, or believe you can contribute in any way to the variety of broadcasts, then contact the station. It’s clear that Highlands FM is a station willing to embrace new ideas and new people. So if you despaired that you’d never get a chance to seize your 15 minutes of fame, then despair no more. Highlands FM is just waiting for you to summon the courage and try a new experience. You could be the voice the Macedon Ranges has been desperate to hear. And I’m told you have an excellent head for radio... See www.highlandsfm.org.au Live streaming at: http://www.highlandsfm.org.au/ Highlands_FM/Listen_Live.html 117 High Street Woodend 5427 2040

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MACEDON RANGES FOOD & WINE SPOT

RedBeard Historic Bakery John Reid—Trentham WORDS john reid PHOTOGRAPHY Kim Selby

There are two things I want to say about the bakery that I run with my brother, Alan. Firstly, if you choose to eat RedBeard bread, thank you. You thereby allow me to make a living doing what I love: baking organic sourdough in a Scotch oven*. I had been seeking my purpose for 30 years when a friend introduced me to wood-fired sourdough baking. It was love at first touch.

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Max bakes at RedBeard daily from 3am and loves what he does

When I told my grandfather that I had finally found my vocation, he was not surprised. “John,” he said, “don’t you know your family history?” He told me that his uncle, Roy Raggatt, once had the biggest bakery in Bendigo. Baking is in my blood. Creating bread with high nutritional value and superior taste in the traditional way—using a wild yeast culture to leaven it, and a wood-fired oven to bake it—is a master craft. In Australia, the craft was almost lost. In the 1950s and ’60s the big flour milling companies bought up and closed down family bakeries to eliminate competition for their white sliced factory bread, sold in the new supermarkets. They demolished most of the old Scotch ovens that once existed in every suburb and town.

I dropped by Castlemaine railway station recently, to grab a warming coffee. But the crowd of commuters in black, grimly awaiting the 6am express to Southern Cross, was a chilling sight. Building community is hard when so many residents go away for 12 hours a day, five days a week. RedBeard Historic Bakery works to stem the flow of commuters and to connect families firmly to their hometowns. We provide local employment for members of more than 20 families. We have trained local kids as apprentices and we support local kindergartens, schools and clubs.

RedBeard Historic Bakery works to stem the flow of commuters and to connect families firmly to their hometowns.

The chain of knowledge, skills and “feeling” for the dough and the oven, forged between master baker and apprentice for countless generations, was almost broken. For the past 16 years I have tried to restore strength to that chain. Some fellow journeymen, some rare books and my instincts have guided me. I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life. Secondly, if you choose to eat RedBeard bread, thank you. You thereby support our community in several crucial ways. I lived in Melbourne for many years before moving to Castlemaine, which I love.

In our bread and in our cafe, we use ingredients from local organic farmers and producers because they are improving our ecological health and because low food miles means high community capital as well as low greenhouse emissions. We meet our wonderful suppliers again when we set up our stall next to theirs at the farmers’ markets that are also building a sustainable future for our community. Our customers enjoy delicious produce that is the freshest possible and experience our region’s unique culture and character. In return, my business, my family, my community and my passion for baking are sustained. So, thank you.

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Vacherin As with all our best cake and biscuit recipes, this one comes originally from our sister Jude. Jude was an apprentice of Stephanie Alexander, so it may have come via that illustrious channel. The recipe requires a surfeit of fresh berries and egg white so is perfect for summer when chooks are coming back on the lay and berries hang heavy and luscious. Ingredients • 200g egg whites • 350g castor sugar • 100g chopped almonds • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract • Whipped cream • Fresh berries of your choice Method • Preheat oven to 140°C • Line two baking trays with baking paper • Whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly add sugar, then finally vanilla extract to produce a stiff meringue • Fold the nuts lightly through • Spread on to baking paper in four or five 10cm circles about 1cm thick • Bake for one hour until crisp through • Cool completely • Layer each of your meringue discs with layers of whipped cream then berries to create a tower of delight

*Scotch oven: Scottish engineers built this once-common type of commercial oven—a huge, domed, brick structure—throughout the British Empire. The wood fire is extinguished before baking begins and the bread bakes in the deep, even heat gradually released by the masonry. John Reid is co-director of RedBeard Historic Bakery with his brother, Alan. They specialise in certified organic, authentic sourdough bread and their licensed cafe features local, seasonal and organic ingredients. They also offer behind-the-scenes Historic Bakery Tours and sourdough baking workshops. In 2011 they won the National Baking Industry Association’s Baking Seal of Excellence Award and Environment Award. Open seven days 8am - 5pm. You can also find their produce at farmers’ markets throughout Central Victoria. 38A High Street Trentham, 5424 1002
 www.redbeardbakery.com.au

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Servicing The Macedon Ranges and Melbourne for over 10 years


Daylesford Macedon Ranges Area Map Macedon Ranges Area Map Bendigo

Heathcote

Seymour

Castlemaine

Broadford

Malmsbury Kyneton

Daylesford

Tylden

Romsey

Woodend Trentham

Creswick

Lancefield

Hanging Rock

Hepburn Springs

Mount Macedon

Wallan

Riddells Creek Gisborne Sunbury

Ballarat

Melbourne Airport

N Bacchus Marsh

0

20 km

Melbourne

40

Featured businesses

Regional attractions

RedBeard, 38A High Street, Trentham

Trentham Falls

Braeside Cafe, 47 Taylors Road, Mt Macedon

Turpin Falls

Woodend Golf Club, Davy Street, Woodend

Mt Macedon Memorial Cross

Gisborne Golf Club, Daly Street, Gisborne

Hanging Rock Reserve

Trentham Golf Club, 54 Falls Road, Trentham

Malmsbury Viaduct, Urquhart St (behind botanic gardens)

Zig Zag Wines, 201 Zig Zag Road, Drummond North

Lauriston Reservoir

Willis Brother’s Steam Flour Mill (Dhaba at the Mill, Illuminate Yoga Studio), 3/18 Piper Street, Kyneton

Botanic Gardens Lake Daylesford

The Mill@Malmsbury, 120 Mollison Street, Malmsbury Jubilee Lake


The Mews Cottages

Nestled at the foothills of the Macedon Ranges in the quaint tree-lined village of New Gisborne, the Mews Cottages offer private luxurious accommodation with a glimpse of traditional country lifestyle. Located only 45 minutes from Melbourne, these fully self-contained cottages have all the modern conveniences and are just a short stroll to the local country tavern and railway station. They provide easy access to Mount Macedon and the many other local attractions.

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"IRCH#OTTAGE"ED"REAK 262 Station Rd, New Gisborne, VIC 3438

Bookings: 0412 902 928 www.mewscottages.com.au


Issue 3 Macedon Ranges Magazine