Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ruined Houses and Old Road Reserves

Block Nine Road (Wirrabara Forest) to Murray Town
Northern Guidebook, Maps 2.7-2.9

Today we bid farewell to Wirrabara Forest, heading up and out of the valley and across the plains towards the dramatic backdrop of Mt Remarkable.

Lots of old road reserves and ruins today - roads set out close together with small blocks. Extracts from a monument at the long defunct Murphy Town explain it well:

The widespread surveying of Homestead Leases or Workingman's Blocks took place during the 1880's and 1890's to increase the population of rural areas and assist workers to provide for their families. Most blocks were about 20 acres and many were spread throughout the district. More than 100 blocks were surveyed...

The purpose of the Blocks was to provide enough land to enable working men to grow fruit and vegetables, some grain crops, keep a cow or two and some poultry...

However, by the 1930's a combination of factors had brought about the demise of these Workingmen's communities. The spread of the rail system enabled the distribution of fruit from earlier ripening irrigation areas into the district and increased mechanisation of farming caused the loss of a large part of the casual labour market. So the Blockers and their families moved elsewhere to find work.

What was interesting about the homes was that they were clearly all built a long time ago and abandoned at a similar time, left untouched since. There was a high incidence of ruins which indicated that the rear of the house, that being the lean-to flat-roofed section, was build first, the front wall of the house consisting of a central door and no windows. This would have been to allow the construction of the more formal front two rooms of the house later, with a gabled or hip roof and verandah. It expresses the hope and dreams the settlers placed in their land, and that the land failed to meet these expectations.

Robyn carried her umbrella today, after Leonie introduced her "hiking" umbrella last month. She didn't need it, it only rained a few brief moments. Jerry confiscated it at one point, after a light shower had started. Tut tut. The Walk Leader with an umbrella... this should be reported to the higher hiking authorities...

  • Distance: 17km
  • Terrain: Mostly roads, mostly flat/undulating
  • Hiking time: Approx 5 hours

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