Last spring I had the privilege of photographing the gardens at the Lexington Homestead in Moyston, Victoria.
The homestead is a very significant site not only for the Grampians District, but also Australia, as this was the home of Thomas Wills from the age of 4, the inventor of Australian Rules Football (AFL). It is said that he combined parts of a game called Marn Grook played by the Djab wurrung Aboriginal people and Rugby, creating the best sport in the world.
It is a beautiful homestead, and during the spring the gardens are in full bloom with a magic display of colour.
Extract from Heritage Victoria
Lexington homestead is a large brick homestead constructed circa 1851 for pastoralist Horatio Wills to replace an earlier structure of the 1840’s. Symmetrical in composition, the single storied house has three windows on either side of the central doorway. The timber framed verandah returns down the long side wings, which enclose a courtyard also with verandah. The hipped roof is clad in iron. Lexington Homestead is one of the earliest surviving substantial homesteads in Victoria. The house is an important example of the Colonial style in Victoria and is architecturally important for its form and furnishing. Lexington also has historical associations with the early settlement of the district, having been taken up by Wills in 1842. The arrangement of the windows of the principal facade is unusual and the use of courtyard verandahs is notable. Lexington homestead is largely intact and in good condition.
Today marked 48 days without rainfall, given that the last bit of rainfall was only 2mm on the 30th of December.
So with the tanks dwindling to less than a quarter full and a thick haze of smoke wafting in the air, it was time to begin the 2nd annual harvest of the Purple Peruvian Potatoes. We were given these oblong strange tubers from a friend. So I planted them out from the very few we were given in 2007/08 season. After te first harvest we kept a few for seed stock and ate the large ones in one sitting. These potatoes turned out to be the most delicious and creamy potato I had ever eaten.
Our seed stock has multiplied considerably after this recent harvest, and we have had a bumper harvest fillingone basket full, that will probably keep us going for 3 meals.
The sandy, poorly drained soils of the Grampians are no match for the rich rolling hills of west Gippsland where Tony Middleton resides. It would be awesome to put some of these in the ground down there.
The shape of the potato is a bit off putting and somewhat resembles human faeces, however you wont be disappointed, I was reluctant to try at first, and used my family members as Guinea Pigs and waited to see what allergic reaction or side effect took place. As you can see the spud isn’t the biggest you’ve seen but is worth its weight in gold.
Hopefully after next season we might have purple mash potato on the table.
If the opportunity arises for you to taste, or to grow this great food source, I highly recommend it.
I bet you the Irish were pissed off when this particular variety of potato wasn’t washed up on their shoreline.
Now for another history lesson, and probably my favourite Artist.
Eugene Von Guerard arrived in Victoria, determined to try his luck on the Victorian Goldfields. As a gold-digger he was unsuccessful, but he did produce a large number of intimate studies of goldfields life, quite different from the deliberately awe-inspiring landscapes for which he was later to become famous. Realising that there were opportunities for an artist in Australia, von Guerard abandoned the diggings and was soon undertaking lucrative commissions recording the dwellings and properties of wealthy pastoralists.
This was a time when Europeans first started to settle Western Victoria and the landscape would have been in far contrast to what exists today.
The last of the Aboriginal people would have been moved off the land after a dreadful period over the previous 2 decades.
Von Guerard would have been the first and last person to have the opportunity to paint the natural landscape before the clear felling.
My intention for Saturday was to find the location where Von Guerard painted probably my favourite landscape.
It is a view in the Southern Grampians looking right down too Signal Peak and Mt Abrupt.
The general location was easy to find with my local knowledge, however finding the exact location is a little different.
To make matters worse the vegetation has dramatically changed and speaking to an art student a few weeks back he mentioned that Von Guerard was renowned for manipulating, enhancing and creating detail in his paintings.
Therefore in my conclusion, he made it to this point/peak and painted as much as he could during the day, and finished off later on from memory.
As some of the peaks are very are more jagged than in reality and the foreground general layout of rocks are correct but very different in appearance.
The other thing was that the heathland in the foreground depicts a river runing through it, whereas the current river is further tot he right where all the trees are.
However that could even be a result of Aboriginal burning regimes at the time.
Source of the Wannon, 1866.
Source of the Wannon, 2008.
A better view from a lower elevation.