DSWAA finished 2014 with a field trip to Sutherland Creek, 20k north-west of Geelong, hosted by Bronte and Ade Payne both of whom have intimate local knowledge and empathy for the landscape. In addition, Bronte is a dry stone waller and his skills extend from traditional dry stone wall construction to contemporary dry stone sculptural forms.
Fifty six participants met on the Geelong-Anakie Road, from where we departed for a short drive to the property of Mrs Margaret Herd. The delightful 1860s bluestone home sits on a small rise overlooking the Moorabool River and is surrounded by a (dry stone) walled garden.
An interesting aspect of the walls was that the stone clearly had broken faces, perhaps indicating that it had been quarried, as would have been the stone used to construct the house.
We then moved ten kilometres north to Austin’s Wines. The property entrance, situated on Geelong-Anakie Road, is a very special mix of formal and informal walls. Towering dry stone pillars support wrought iron main gates to the property. To the left of the gateway, an amazing dry stone wall snakes its way around a small group of ancient peppercorn trees – an impressive and appealing sculptural form. All of the walls at the vineyard entrance and extensive formal walls within the vineyard were built by Bronte.
A few kilometres to the east is Woodchester Park. Old, well maintained traditional walls line the road. Impressive wall construction with a backdrop of sugar gums, these walls date back to the latter part of nineteenth century. A large sign adjacent to these walls clearly stated ‘Please do not take stones off Wall’. Unfortunately, stone theft is a very frustrating aspect of wall ownership, here and elsewhere.
We moved a few hundred meters to the east to inspect an abandoned property entrance. The owner commissioned the entrance for his wife to be, but story is that the marriage and associated home construction never happened. The gateway stands as a sentinel to that failed relationship.
We then travelled on to ArtRocks, the home of Bronte and Ade. Not often are we able to experience the contemporary use of stone but here at ArtRocks dry stone structures presented a wonderful connection between landscape, vegetation, buildings and garden sculpture.