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Steeped in history

STRAWBERRIES, cherries and an angel’s kiss in Spring. Aumann’s Family Orchard Shop is really made from all these things. The iconic shop at the old packing shed on the top of the hill in Harris Gully Road sells plenty of other yummy, fresh and delicious fruits too, including apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, oranges and lemons.

Barry Aumann, 69, is part of a family that has been growing fruit here since the 19th century. Four generations of Aumanns have lived and worked on this land since the 1890s when Barry’s grandfather Wilhelm “Bill” and his brother Harry bought 60 acres on the beautiful hilly slopes.

“Some would say too bloody steep and not an ideal place for an or- chard,” quips Barry as he shares his family’s story with the Diary.

“My grandfather and his brother cleared the land and tried growing potatoes while they waited for the fruit trees to come into production. But the potatoes must have been hit- ting the rocks underground because they weren’t very evenly rounded,” he adds with a cheeky grin.

Wilhelm Aumann married Maria and they had four children, one of them being Herbert who was Barry’s father. Herbert married Marjorie and they had four kids too: Gwen, Bill, Richard and Barry. Herbert took over Harry’s share of the orchard and worked it with his sons until his death in 1986.

Barry’s mother Majorie died when Barry was only five and his two aunts Ada and Mary bought him up on the amily property. Barry’s robust and direct energy softens for a moment as he reflects on the loss of his mother at such a young age. “The older I got, the more I realized how much I missed her,” he says.

The three brothers, Bill, Richard and Barry, started working in the orchard when they were only five or six years of age.

“We had watering duties during the summer holidays,” remembers Barry. “There was a real art in that, making sure all the trees got a good drink.”

The boys all went to Box Hill Tech for three years then started working in the orchard full time when they were 14.

“Back then there was still no electricity along Tindals Road. It didn’t come until 1960,” says Barry. “So we grew up with Tilley lamps to light up our homes.”

In Barry’s grandfather’s day, taking the fruit to market was a much more leisurely affair than it is now.

His horse drawn cart loaded with cases of fruit would head off towards the Queen Victoria Market about midnight. The patient horses knew their route well and the orchardist could afford to nod off and have a snooze as the horses plodded stoically along throughout the dark night. They travelled through Kew and Richmond and arrived at the market as the first blush of dawn crept over the horizon. Cruise control 1910 style and the first driverless vehicles!

Now, over 100 years later, driverless cars are finally coming into pro- duction. Going to market became a lot quicker in 1926 when Bill Aumann purchased a Chev 4 cab chassis for 269 pounds and started trucking his fruit to town.

The Aumanns worked hard in the old days. When they picked fruit there was so much double, triple and quadruple handling. The apples and pears had to be picked from the tree, packed in a box, loaded onto a trailer, then loaded onto a truck and taken to the cool store in Fitzsimmons Lane.

When they were ready to sell, the process had to be repeated in reverse. The fruit was taken back to the orchard and stacked in the shed, then repacked for market and loaded onto the truck. That was all done by hand, but the Aumanns were used to the strenuous work and just got the job done. That changed during the 1960s when forklift trucks and bulk bins were introduced.

Barry has spent all his life on the orchard except for two years during the 1960s when he was called up for National Service. Barry served in Vietnam with The Royal Australian Engineers. After the war and back on the land, Barry met Michelle at a dance in Hawthorn.

“I took one look at her and thought she looks all right,” says Barry. “ We were married two years later in 1975.”

Barry and Michelle built a house on the orchard and have been there ever since, raising their three kids, Susannah, now 38, Michael 36 and Caroline 32.

After four generations of hard work running their business, the Aumanns are looking to sell the freehold and business, which include five acres of land.

“We have already sold some of the land,” says Barry. “But I would love to see the business continue and see the land being utilised. Michelle and I intend to stay on in the house we love, but I won’t be growing fruit. As far as The Aumanns are concerned, that has come to an end.

“We could have relocated the orchard but because of the Green Wedge restrictions we’ve been denied the opportunity to realise the full potential of the land value. I’m disappointed that we haven’t had the capital to relocate like many of our counterparts who have been able to get a fair price for their land.

“Life on the orchard has been great though,” Barry says with a grin. “It’s been bloody hard work. What we do revolves around the seasons and it’s a seven-day-a-week job. When you consider getting ready to leave for market at midnight the hours worked add up. Mostly I’ve been working 80 hours a week for over 50 years. The women in the family have been working just as hard as the men too.”

What has been good about a lifetime of work on the steep slopes of the family orchard?

“We’ve always had good rapport with the other orchardists,” says Barry. “It’s a great place to live and the view is fantastic from our place. We enjoy the best of both worlds. Living in this beautiful spot but only 30 minutes from town.

“One thing I will miss after we sell the business is interacting with all the different people who come in the shop. I will miss that.”

True ‘friends’ of our state park

THE Friends of Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) is a volunteer-based group that understands the importance of growing indigenous plants in our gardens. We can’t underestimate the group’s value to the community.

The nursery grows plants indigenous to the area not only to conserve these important species but also to try and encourage people to plant them in their own gardens. Too often we see garden runaways such as Pittosporum and Agapanthus invading the territory of beautiful native orchids, Eucalypts and other natural splendours.

‘Friends’ groups such as our Warrandyte team are of such value to the priceless bushland in our area.

They never get tired of pulling weeds and planting important indigenous plants around the park. The habitat created and improved by FOWSP will continue to house all types of native creatures from phascogales and sugar gliders to powerful owls; even the native bees are taken good care of.

Linda Rogan, an active member of FOWSP, reflects upon her time volunteering and believes she has “found a wonderful supportive community of people from various backgrounds, including enthusiastic youngsters as well as us elders, all with the common goal of supporting the State Park, the rangers and the local flora and fauna”. She says “FOWSP is now an important part of my active life”.

Linda joined FOWSP with the intention of “learning more about our indigenous flora and to do something positive for our local natural environment” and ended up becoming the newsletter editor and finding herself immersed in learning about the state park.

FOWSP has had many successes around the park including creating a wetland frog habitat near the nursery and revegetating many disturbed areas.

From my own personal experience it is so rewarding being part of this team. Every time I go out with them I feel like I have given something back to the environment and an area, which I enjoy visiting often.

As a great bonus the people are amazing and so much fun to be around and the morning tea is always astounding.

The state parks in Warrandyte are an integral piece in a much larger puzzle. The importance of it being looked after for rare and endangered plants and animals and also for the enjoyment of you all in Warrandyte is greater than I can describe in this article. You’ll have to go out into the park, enjoy the company of the wallabies and and feel the change in the air to appreciate its true significance.

The nursery is open to the public and to anybody who wishes to volunteer on Thursdays from 9.30am until 12.30pm and on the first weekend of every month when the Warrandyte Community Market is on.

For more info visit fowsp.org.au

Bridge too far?

SHOULD we be careful what we wish for? The Manningham Leader carried a story last month under the heading One Bridge Not Enough saying hundreds of “squeaky wheels” were “demanding VicRoads build a second crossing of the Yarra River in Warrandyte”.

The impetus behind this demand is a petition launched by local resident, Jan Freeman, which is receiving much attention on social media. Long traffic queues at peak times and concern about outcomes in the event of a major bushfire have fuelled support for the petition.

Historically, the problem has arisen because Warrandyte has one of only three bridges that span the Yarra River in the north east of Melbourne. The others are Fitzsimons Lane at Templestowe (also very busy at peak times) and Vasey Houghton Bridge at Yarra Glen. With population growth and greater vehicle numbers, traffic through the township has increased over the years leading to the long queues at peak times.

This severely impacts Warrandyte residents, particularly those who live north of the river, in both the morning and afternoon peak periods and there is naturally a desire to see improvements. But more bridges mean more roads, a wider bridge means widened roads and, no matter what, better traffic conditions leads to more, not less, traffic as improved travel times attract more drivers from other congested routes.

There is anecdotal evidence that the failure so far to link the Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink has led to traffic finding alternative routes and river crossings through the north-eastern suburbs. Despite calls to complete the so-called “missing link”, through the Banyule Flats and Yarra River area which would entail another river bridge, no action appears forthcoming.

That is despite calls as recently as April this year when the RACV identified the “missing link’’ as its No.1 priority and called on the state government to fund it. However, the Banyule plan is actively opposed by local groups seeking to protect their area’s environmental values.

There is no doubt that Warrandyte’s topography, environmental sensitivity and history also presents many challenges for road and traffic planners seeking to improve traffic flow and the river crossing. The question must be asked, how much is the Warrandyte community prepared to compromise to achieve a better traffic outcome at peak periods?

Many solutions have been suggested in the past, ranging from a proposed Yarra Street widening and realignment in the 1980s (vehemently opposed by the com- munity) to a bridge from Bradleys Lane to Everard Drive more recently (discounted by authorities). Dick Davies, president of the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), said recently that up until now everybody had a solution to Warrandyte’s traffic problems but nobody had data, so a VicRoads traffic report on the bridge road network, due in August, will be most welcome and should assist in identifying problems and solutions.

In addition, $140,000 has been budgeted to investigate ways to improve the bridge’s traffic capacity during an emergency, including widening and strengthening the bridge. An emergency situation is the greatest impetus for change. The current bridge has served our community well for nearly 60 years. No doubt the community will wish to be involved in any plans for change in order to protect the amenity and historical connections particularly if change leads to modifications to Yarra Street or the historic streetscape.

To return to the original question do we need to be careful what we wish for?

While much attention has been focused on the bridge do we want to see it vastly altered, especially if it leads to major road changes as a result?

While much attention has been focused on the traffic line in Yarra Street at peak periods which so infuriates motorists, what changes can we hope for given this type of congestion happens at most major river crossings (even those on major arterial roads such as Fitzsimons Lane or Banksia Street)?

Can we accept that traffic congestion has the effect of deterring some traffic and that increasing capacity will attract more, not less, traffic as has been experienced elsewhere? Should we be more focused on the broader area solutions such as the Northern Arterial extension from Reynolds Road to the Maroondah Highway?

One thing is for sure – the debate, petitions and lobbying will persist as long as the line of traffic continues to snake along the township’s roads.

 

The camel’s kiss

PETE’S jaw dropped mid-sentence as the inquisitive creature’s foul-smelling breath intruded on the deliciously rich, earthy outback air.

“Quickly!” he said, breathing as I scrambled in the passenger seat to grab my camera from the dusty red floor of the Land Cruiser. “Zac” had decided to participate in the cheerful human banter, projecting his huge rubbery mouth through the car window to give Pete a fetid, sloppy kiss.

I am on a secluded four-day trek with renowned landscape photographer Pete Dobré, run by Camel Treks Australia, deep in the varied landscape of the South Australian Flinders Ranges. Venturing on a spectacular journey from the perspective of an outback pioneer aboard a single humped camel, 
I was keen to capture the iconic ranges, a photographer’s utopia with a showcase of abundant wild- life and astonishing landscapes.

From Adelaide airport, we drive north through the Clare Valley wine and gourmet food district, established in the 1850s by Jesuit priests fleeing Silesia (Poland) and religious persecution (definitely worth a stop for lunch and perhaps a sample of the local vintage if you are a passenger!). Six hours and 400km later we arrive at the edge of Wilpena Pound—a natural mountain amphitheatre home to the small township of Hawker, 12km from our final destination.

The road to Wonoka Station basecamp is a hard compact dirt road, meaning there is no need for a 4WD, although the driveway is over 10km long. The alternative is travel via coach from Adelaide, with Genesis Tour and Charter to Hawker, where staff will collect and shuttle you to Wonoka Station.

We are greeted by husband and wife team Karen and Paul Ellis and their two children. The couple operates Camel Trek Australia tours over 20,000 acres. Following the obligatory safety drill, the gentle giants seeming to mildly protest their chewing being disturbed, groaned and then (not so graciously) lay down while the excited, impatient riders climbed aboard.

We were off!

Travelling in string formation, with each camel tied to the one in front Indiana Jones-style and led by a “cameleer”, we ventured 5km to our first base camp for the next two days. The honey-coloured sand- stone blocks of Mayo’s Hut are well over 100 years old, but renovated to house weary travellers on the Heysen Trail as well as those on camel treks. Camp was already set up and from the delicious aromas wafting by, it was obvious dinner was underway. Treated to nibblies, wine and a three-course meal prepared in mouth-watering, rustic outback style (all dietary needs catered), we kick back around a roaring campfire to exchange lively banter until it is time to hit the (rather luxurious) swags.

We awake each day to a huge hearty breakfast, and with lunches packed in camel saddlebags, we hit the trail each day for a new adventure.

For four days our surrounding scenery is an enticing smorgasbord for the eyes. The constantly evolving landscapes alternate from ruggedly mountainous ranges and spectacularly harsh, golden rocky gorges to delightfully cool and relaxing bubbling creeks (after the rain), sheltered by ancient river red gums and then onto the deep, rich sandy red plains stretching across the horizon as far as the eye can see.

Camel Treks Australia presents a fantastic opportunity to experience the organic breathtaking landscape of the Flinders Ranges, with many tour options to discover. It caters for school groups, families, photographers and adventurers—there is a trek for everyone.

More cameltreksaustralia.com.au

 

Life of drama and dance

YVONNE Reid is a woman of considerable presence. Dressed in black she welcomes the Diary into her rather spectacular stone-built residence in Banning Rd, North Warrandyte. Yvonne’s warmth and intelligence shines through as she talks about her life as a dancer, actor, teacher, choreographer, psychologist and Jungian analyst.

Her contribution to our arts community is immeasurable through her role as drama and dance teacher with the Warrandyte Arts Association’s Theatrekids. For more than 25 years she encouraged freedom of expression with hundreds of young Warrandyte children through her creative dance and drama classes.

Yvonne came to live in Warrandyte in 1942 when she was only two, along with her mother Hilda Mitchell and sister Bev (then seven) and moved into a little cottage in Albert Rd. Little brother David was yet to be born.

“We had no electricity and no telephone,” Yvonne says. “Little lamps at night, possums, howling winds and all that stuff.”

Their father Lynton (Lyn) was away serving in the army during WWII. The girls naturally missed their Dad. “But we didn’t forget him,” Yvonne says. “Mum had a picture of Dad that we used to kiss every night before going to bed.”

The cottage was next to a huge cliff that dropped 300 feet to the river at Pound Bend.

“I used to climb down and spend time in a little cave hall way down the cliff,” she says. “Mum didn’t mind me climbing up and down the cliff because she said I was sure-footed.”

Perhaps time spent in that little cave sparked the imagination of the little girl who would later express her creative side with writing, dance and choreography.

Yvonne was interested in dance and theatre from an early age be- cause of her friendship with neighbour Yvonne Day.

“She was a dancer and I idolised her,” she explains. “Yvonne Day and her sister June had numerous scrapbooks full of pictures and stories about the Hollywood stars of the day.

“I was totally captivated and I knew the names and faces of the actors and dancers before I had ever seen them on film.”

Inspired, Yvonne began creative dance classes held by émigré dancers Hanny Kolm and Daisy Pernitzer from Vienna. It was a determined effort for an eight-year-old girl to make the journey into the city once a week and an absolute testament to her mother Hilda’s devotion to make this happen. It involved a series of bus and train rides and an overnight stay with her Nana in Box Hill.

Two years later, Yvonne was persuaded to move away from cre- ative dance and into the classical discipline by her friend Barbara McIntyre.

“I studied classical ballet at The Royal Academy of Dance in Exhibition St,” Yvonne says. “But in the end I wasn’t convinced that classical ballet was sufficient for really creative expression.”

Yvonne first had the idea of teaching creative dance when she was 15 when she suggested to the WAA that she could teach ballet and creative dance and offered to do it without payment.

“But Joan Golding from the committee thought that lessons too cheap might not be appreciated and it was decided that I would charge 2/6 per lesson,” she says.

“There was no television and no extra curricular activities in our little town in those days and the local lasses turned up in droves,” she adds, smiling.

“Over 30 little girls arrived at the hall for the first lesson. We had our first recital Children Love to Dance at the end of that year.”

One ex-student Suzanne Dour (nee McAuley) spoke to the Diary about attending Yvonne’s dance classes over 50 years ago.

“It was all very modern and we were very privileged to learn with Yvonne,” Suzanne says.

“During one concert we had cardboard boxes over our heads and were marching about all over the stage. It was a lot of fun and we were able to really express ourselves. I still dance around the place to this day.”

There were no boys in the first years as it was considered to be “too sissy”. A few years later, Yvonne began to incorporate drama into her classes and advertised the classes under the WAA Theatrekids name.

Many boys came and started doing exactly what the girls had been doing before them. Theatrekids workshopped plays and used the work as a “sociodrama” to engage with issues common to the kids such as bullying.

In 1976 success came with one of Theatrekids productions entitled Gliders and Spirits when the one- act play won the Victorian State Schools Drama Competition.

“It was about a group of kids on a picnic in the Warrandyte bush,” Yvonne says. “It was a play with a magical touch and in one scene the kids are flying their gliders from a cliff very much like the one I climbed down as a child at Pound Bend. There is a transformation in the scene and suddenly the Wur- rundji children are dancing.”

Another highlight for Theatrekids was The Wizard of Warrandyte, a play that was instigated by the kids after some of them saw a bulldozer crushing some young trees. The hero of the day was The Wizard, an androgynous spirit figure who fought The Glink, a metallic monster symbolizing the earthmovers and bulldozers.

In 1959 Yvonne sailed to Italy on The Fairsky. After landing in Naples she took a train journey across Europe that she describes as stunning. She arrived in London to try her luck as an actress in repertory theatre.

Australian painters Yvonne and Arthur Boyd invited her to live with them in return for being a mother’s helper and she travelled through Europe with the Boyds.

“Seeing galleries in Europe with Arthur Boyd was quite something,” Yvonne says.

Yvonne was offered a season with Oldham Rep but homesickness was starting to bite. Another cold dark English winter was setting in and she was broke. Yvonne rang her father Lyn and he sent her the money for the trip home.

Back in Melbourne, Yvonne was reacquainted with Irving Reid.

“He was a dashing young man with a love of literature and art,” she says. “Once together it became an absurd notion that we would ever part and we never did.”

They were married in 1962, the same year as the bushfires burnt down Yvonne’s childhood home on top of the cliff in Albert Rd. They had four children: Lynton, Sacha, Duc and Than.

Unfortunately Irving passed away three years ago.

“It’s been an extremely difficult time, especially since his illness was misdiagnosed and wrongly treated,” Yvonne says.

Her wonderfully strong and determined face softens as she talks about Irving, the love of her life: “He was a painter, writer, mathematician and a great actor too! I miss him terribly, he was my best friend.”

Gough Whitlam’s initiatives in tertiary education made it possible for Yvonne to return to study and in 1982 she achieved registration as a psychologist. In 2005 she graduated as a Jungian analyst, 13 years study in all.

Yvonne believes her work as a psychologist and Jungian analyst is not far removed from the arts and she agrees with Jung’s notion that the value of imagination is a creative force.

Although Yvonne has achieved many accolades for both her creative and academic work, she is still passionate about her ten-year association with the Warrandyte Environment League.

“It is still profoundly important to me,” she says.

“One of the highlights of being involved with the league was being able to save Koornong from housing development.”

Today aged 74 Yvonne still works three days a week as a Jungian analyst. She is forever interested in the human psyche and the wonder of the universe.

Speaking as a practicing christian, Yvonne’s final comment is practical as much as being philosophical.

“I think the world needs some fresh approaches to solving the worsening problems of our planet.”