Caroline Springs was built on grazing land almost 20 years ago. It straddles Kororoit Creek and a series of man-made lakes hewn out of the volcanic soil. In the surrounding farmland, most earmarked for development, paddocks are delineated by rows of historic stone walls. They were constructed from the volcanic rocks that were cleared from the earth to make arable farmland. There is a magnificent example surrounding an old homestead at the end of Mount Kororoit Road off Leakes Rd. Saturday, May 5, sees a dry stone wall workshop being held by the City of Melton at nearby Mount Cottrell. It's being run by professional waller and trainer David Long, who will show you how to safely repair a basalt wall, from foundations to coping stone. Training materials, gloves and lunch are provided. For more information contact melton.vic.gov.au
Fallen convict women and desperate men sent to Australia as convicts, or lured to the country by gold fever, populate the songs of Australian folk trio Bush Gothic. Vocalist Jenny M. Thomas has been compared to Dolores O'Riorden from the Cranberries and with double bassist Dan Witton and drummer Chris Lewis she projects a tragic, comic style that sits somewhere between darkness and pure joy. Next Saturday, May 12, the trio take over the 1850s Warrawong Woolshed at Eynesbury to launch their first single Jim Jones and accompanying video. The old bluestone shearing shed, with its brick floor, white-washed walls and bare wooden posts creates the perfect atmosphere for Bush Gothic to sing their tales. 1182-1250 Exford Road, Eynesbury; 12 May 8pm, Cost $10, book at melton.vic.gov.au
Caroline Springs has a superb library, a modern temple to literature, very popular with the locals. The foyer doubles as a gallery, which, until June 4, is home to a collection of letters and stories from WWI called Writing the War. It follows the stories of the men and women who went to fight and nurse far away from home through the letters they sent back to family and friends. There are shocking photos taken at the Western Front as well as a special film commissioned by the State Library of Victoria, the commissioning body for this touring exhibition. There are local stories, including that of Eva Lang. In a glass case is the sheet music to a song called My Boy that once belonging to Eva, a local woman who saw her brothers Horace and Thomas off, only to receive the news later that both had been killed at the front line. CS Gallery, 193-201 Caroline Springs Blvd, Caroline Springs; Open daily; free entry
Food and Wine
On the very edge of suburban Melbourne, overlooking a wetland and up to Mount Kororoit, is Russo Estate. In 1990, six hectares of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir vines were planted here and the grapes have resulted in rather decent wine. You can try it at the large wooden bar at the cellar door or have a glass with your meal in the dining room. The wines are called Howdini after the Harry Houdini who flew his plane here just over a century ago. The spelling is due to an unfortunate trademark gazumping. 760-818 Holden Road, Diggers Rest; Open 12pm-late Wed-Sun; (03) 9740 0222; russoestate.com.au
Over the years local wildlife have re-colonised Caroline Springs' man-made lakes and now these shallow waterways are home to dusky moorhens, black swans and various herons. Frogs also call Caroline Springs home, including the endangered growling grass frog. Broad walking paths make exploring the lakes in this tranquil suburb a small pleasure. The view across Lake Caroline to the town centre, with its medium density housing on flat country, is reminiscent of modern developments in the Low Countries.
A dozen sculptures dot Caroline Springs and surrounds from On Tap, the giant tap sitting on the banks of Lake Caroline, to the upturned steel house outside the library called Words For Water. Then there are two works by Martin Hodge, Wing and Arch and Kinetic Wing, which moves as wind power is captured by an aerofoil. Commissioned by the developers, they are a drawcard for sculpture aficionados. A guide can be found at melton.vic.gov.au.
Next Week: Drysdale
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