20 August, 2013

Working Bee and Presentaton Ceremony: Rifle Club Mural and Nearby Gardens

Sunday, 25 August, promises to be an eventful day, for not only will we have another working bee, but the Rifle Club mural and our tree plantings will be officially celebrated!  Darebin Mayor Tim Laurence will officiate.
The working bee will take place in the Indigenous Garden and on the western side of the track, including the terrace. People working in the Indigenous Garden where we will do weeding, top-up mulching and infill planting will need hand trowels, spade, wheelbarrow, broom/rake.

Those working on the western gardens will be engaged in weeding, pruning (hedge) and rubbish collection and will need to be supplied with shears, trowels, tarps/bags (for weeds and rubbish). 

As we need to shift quite some mulch, the more wheelbarrows and spades you can bring the better. And don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and gloves, the latter especially when you collect rubbish. Should you find any sharps, let me know and I’ll pick them up with tongs and put them in a special container. 

Start as usual is at 10.00 am, but we will break at 11.45 to go towards the Rifle Club where the ceremony will be held on the lawn or, if it rains, inside. Refreshments will then be served in the rifle club. 

29 July, 2013

Movie Stars

Did you watch us on Gardening Australia on Saturday, 27th July?  We did!  We watched us heaps!

Great to see some effective community work profiled nationally.  Well done everyone.  Topped off the very next day by another tree planting frenzy beside the Rifle Club!

Watch the Story

19 July, 2013

Rifle Club Mural and Working Bees for July and August 2013

The Stationeers have been busy this year with the Northcote Rifle Club in commissioning the mural you see on the side of the club building. The Stationeers and Rifle Club are grateful recipients of a community grant from the Darebin City Council (DCC) for the mural and associated plantings.

The Rifle Club called for expressions of interest from community artists under advice from DCC and settled on Graffic Creative on reviewing their collective's portfolio of similar work.  Jimmy B led a team of artists in designing, installing and painting the "nature and wildlife" themed mural, incorporating elements of street art to more traditional artistic elements.

Looking good.

The next stage is a community planting day on Sunday 28th July from 10 am to about 2 pm. We will be planting mature trees next to the Rifle Club and the new mural.

If you are interested please meet at the front of the Rifle Club and bring gloves and any of the following tools:
  • Shovel or spade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Mattock
  • Crow bar
Refreshments will be provided

FUTURE WORKING BEE: Sunday 25th August

Activities: general maintenance of previous planted areas

17 May, 2013

Summer's Desolation, Autumn's Promise

Amazing - our plantings on the South-West site are looking incredible after only six months and a long, dry summer, helped in no small part by local residents stopping to pull the odd weed week after week. Thanks to everyone who continues to look out for the success of these plantings.

February 2011

September 2012

May 2013
The late Spring 2012 plantings in the Indigenous Garden have taken a real beating over the 2013 Summer - extra waterings from both Council and Noleema Services have kept everything basically alive, but a very dry Autumn sure hasn't helped.  That said, it's not all bad news - we're looking at around a 60% survival rate, and a lot of specimens are coming back either from their own rootstock or from seed.  Here are some samples of what you can find sprouting on site if you take the time to look closely:

Tufted Bluebell (whalenbergia communis), resprouting from rootstock

A more advanced Tufted Bluebell

A Drooping Cassinia, or "Chinese Scrub," sprouting from seed (cassinia arcuata).  We didn't even plant this one - a hardy plant indigenous to the Merri area that has held on tight along the train line and has taken the opportunity presented by a freshly exposed site to sprout from seed and claim back some territory.

Chocolate Lillies (dichopogon strictus), resprouting from root stock
Old Man's Beard (clematis microphylla), hanging on tight

Native Spear Grass (austrostipa scabra ssp falcate),
resprouting from root stock
Wallaby Grass (austrodanthonia caespitosa), resprouting from rootstock

Nodding Salt Bush (einadia nutans), sprouting from seed.  A vigorous groundcover for
difficult sites and a fantastic fodder plant for local fauna - sweet red berries.  The leaves are salty.

It can be tricky working out what's native and what's exotic at this early stage - personally I'm still going crosseyed trying to identify wallaby grass from buffalo or any other introduced species - but once these get going it will become quite clear.  A good soak over Winter will give this site a much needed boost and with some infill planting we should see some decent results come late Spring.

11 April, 2013

Lo-Fi on Platform One

There is no escape! Stationeers notice board now firmly installed on Platform One - information, photos, ramblings, working bee notices all right there in your bleary workaday commuting face, coming at you like a shark with knees every morning. Take heart, mortgage slaves and entrapped renters! Community Noticeboard For Make Benefit Glorious Station of Merri! Or for covering with tags, I guess. "Spetz" something something.  Rivetting.  Go crazy.

There is also a train station for those seeking activities unrelated to notice boards.

13 March, 2013

Heartbreak Ridge

Merri Station, circa October 2012
Okay, that was exhausting.  Three working bees in short order over October and November finally delivered a life-sustaining outcome for our plantings on the North-East site, the Indigenous Garden.  The boulders are now in place and looking stunningly megalithic. Grasses, ground covers and small shrubs are safely tucked into a thick layer of mulch. All this was made possible with a generous Community Grant from the City of Darebin - many thanks!

When we started out this site was a large pan of what we thought was highly compacted, sandy soil.  We got a rotary hoe through this, then covered this with a layer of the compost from SITA and let it settle for a good six months to develop some nutritious topsoil.  However, when it came to cultivating we found this was not enough - our volunteer gardeners were downing spades and picking up mattocks and crowbars to break into the subsoil, which remained highly compacted and composed of sand, clay and shale to boot.  Truly hard going.  It took two working bees to get everything planted and yet another to apply extra mulch to give the plants a fighting chance in the coming summer.  While it's always fun to work together, we really asked a lot of our weary volunteers this time - thank you everyone for your dedication and persistence in getting this difficult site sorted out.

But what about the rabbits, George

Getting Started
Matt's Production Line
Matt's Slave Labour

take that, you bloody ground


get in there, you bloody plants

Still smiling

Thanks to Stationeer Anna Deleeuw Poole for the photos, and also to Matt White for watering and watering and watering the new babies for days on end with about three or four hoses linked up from his property to the new plantings.  Over this "angry summer" we've contracted Noleema Services to water this site every two weeks, with Darebin City Council helping out with extra watering in between.  Thank you to both.  It's been a difficult summer for so much plantlife in Victoria - if they're not on fire, they're dying of thirst - so it's good to still see these new plantings showing a bit of green among the brown!  Watering regime notwithstanding, it seems a testament to landscaping with our drought-tolerant local species. We'll have to wait until late Autumn to get a sense of which plantings definitively survived the long, dry, hot spell and organise replantings as required.  Meanwhile, the more established native plants in areas to the west of the line remain green and lush with very little rain all summer.

Meanwhile, we've had some progress on our archaeological finds: looks like the "wheel" we unearthed was a "ship tank lid" built by the Burney & Co foundry in Millwall, London, which operated in the 1860's and also from 1890 to the early 1900's.

Ship Tank Lid. As New. Still in Box.
Here's one we prepared earlier.

According to an incendiary article by internationally lauded Director of the Unitied Nations Observatory on Ship Tank Research, Michael Pearson, whimsically titled From Ship to the Bush: Ship Tanks In Australia, Ship Tanks were used for ".. the purpose of containing, enveloping, preserving and securing from damage the several articles of merchandise and other goods, whether in the solid or in the liquid form, which are taken on board ships and other vessels to be transported or consumed..."  Basically, it's a late Victorian era upgrade of the humble barrel.  It is like a barrel designed by Iron Man if Iron Man had lived in 1893.  I am not sure what sort of barrel Iron Man would make today but it would probably fight crime.

"The author, Michael Pearson, a heritage management consultant based in Canberra, has been intrigued by these objects for many years, having found them adapted for many purposes including dog kennels, water tanks, coolers for whale oil, eucalyptus distilleries, reinforcing collars for mine shafts, and perhaps most poignantly in the form of the beche de mer boiler used in 1881 by Mrs Watson as a boat for her escape from Aboriginal attack on Lizard Island. Mrs Watson died in her attempt." A cautionary tale indeed.

On removal from freight ships at the docks, Ship Tanks would have been further transported along train freight routes in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Their lids were likely used as frisbee-like projectiles by burly, shirtless, irritated stevedores fending off the zany rail-side antics of local children and Irish clergymen.  Thanks to Roger Sykes and Heather Hesterman - and Michael Pearson, wherever you are - for the fruits of your stunning Ship Tank research!

Still no news on the bell.  The Railway Museum drew a blank too.  Oh, well... it's a bell.