Sunday, 14 August 2016

Beacon, Western Australia

As we crossed the northern wheatbelt we were more and more aware that a lot of land had been cleared for agriculture. Very little of the natural vegetation remains in small reserves and along roadsides but the road reserves are very narrow and don't leave much room for plants and animals to live.

In Victoria the land the government released for selection in the last half of the 1800s but what had happened in Western Australia? We weren't sure until we spoke to a bloke at Beacon. Beacon is the most northerly town on the wheatbelt and we pulled in to get some diesel. And right across the road from the bowser (no petrol station attendant, just prepay with your plastic at the ATM) was a neat Mens Shed with old tractors in a row outside.

Beacon Mens Shed
So Phil went to have a yarn. Bruce was happy to show what they do. It turns out that Bruce selected land near Beacon in the 1950s when the Western Australian government opened up more land for agriculture. He was a young labourer at the time so this was his chance. As part of the deal he had to clear 100 acres a year so that's what he and his neighbours did. Bruce ended up doing very well and  retired after a run of nine good years, His son took over the farm and ran into three drought years. Such is the life of a farmer.

Bruce and the other members of the Mens Shed at Beacon decided to restore some of their old tractors. He was very happy to tell Phil stories about some of the machines and Phil would have liked to stay longer but we had to move on unfortunately.

Bruce and Phil at Beacon Mens Shed
I went exploring because at Beacon there is a reserve of natural vegetation behind the Shed. It was looking fantastic. Beacon is far enough north to see swathes of colourful daisies and as we are now turning south I was delighted to see it.

Reserve at Beacon
The reserve also allowed other plants to grow. I found some but I'm sure there would be more. It's a delightful spot and so is Beacon.

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