Friday, 28 March 2008

Wall to wall fencing

There are lots of stones on the Victorian Volcanic Plain. Lots and lots of stones. The plain is dotted with inactive volcanoes, and the evidence in the form of ash, tuff, scoria and stone is everywhere. It has dictated the type of farming, the type of vegetation and the type of fencing.

The area was first settled in the 1830s and by the end of the 1800s miles of dry stone fences had been constructed using the basalt rocks immediately to hand. Of course there were stonewallers and there were skilled stonewallers, illustrated by the two photos below.

The first is at a tourist stop at Derrinallum, with an explanatory board. It's a beautiful wall, with a double row of copestones on the top and larger throughstones placed at regular intervals. A real craftsman built this wall. The second is at Lake Condah, now part of Mt Eccles National Park. It's a very haphazard affair but I'm guessing a lot of hard work was involved nevertheless.

There has been a book written about the walls on the plains. It's called If These Walls Could Talk and I'm going to have to track down a copy in my library.

I'd also be very interested in knowing if anyone has researched the use of the walls by lizards and snakes, because their natural habitat is fast disappearing into stone crushers.

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