14 December, 2014

Country Towns 8: Hiawatha - Yarram

Monday 1 - Friday 5 December

We travelled to Yarram via the South Gippsland Highway, and returned home via Traralgon.

From Yarram we drove to Hiawatha via Albert River valley and Albert River road. After crossing Staceys Bridge we drove into the hills where we were treated to a scenic drive. 

Staceys Bridge was of significance to us as we travelled to Hiawatha for it was beyond this  point that we were no longer able to use our mobile phone and tablet. To add to that slight inconvenience there was no TV reception at Garden Farm. The consolation prize was that we had contact with the outside world courtesy of three ABC radio stations.

Given that there was precious little vehicle activity on the drive from Yarram to hiawatha, we decided that for drives to and from Garden Farm we would travel at a slower speed so as to better appreciate the scenery.

Shortly after entering Desserts Road we noticed 20 or so sheep in a paddock, a sign that we had arrived at Garden Farm. The main part of the farm is located on the side of a hill just above a creek which is a tributary of Albert River.

Upon arrival we introduced ourselves to Bob and Angie, and in turn were greeted by Digger and Toby, two sheep dogs, and 'jumping Jack", a lively young dog.

Click on photos for larger version

View from kitchen

View from bedroom


Garden Farm is aptly named for it has been created by Bob to conform to the principles of permaculture (a.k.a permanent agriculture).

The farm consists of sheep, cattle, poultry, ducks (domesticated and wild), an apiary, and fruit trees. Prior to leaving Garden Farm, Bob kindly gave us samples of permaculture - eggs, oranges, lemons, and a jar of Santa Rosa Plum Jelly.


Permaculture is a word originally coined by Bill Mollinson and David Holmgren in the mid 1970's to describe an 'integrated, evolving system of perennial or self-perpetuating plant and animal species useful to man".

A more current definition of permaculture ... 'Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while  yielding an abundance of food, fibre, and energy for provision of local needs. People, their buildings and the ways in which they organise themselves are central to permaculture. Thus, the permacultiue vision of permanent or sustainable agriculture has evolved to one of permanent or sustainable culture.

When talking about his method for planting trees, Bob made reference to ideas gleaned from the work of Masanobu Fukuoka.

Masanobu Fukuoka (2 February 1913 - 16 August 2008) was a japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of' 'desertified' lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures, from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as "Natural Farming" or "Do-Nothing- Farming".

Fukuoka  was the author of several Japanese books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries and interviews from the 1970's onwards. His influence went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing natures' principles.

Permaculture at Garden Farm


The mention of Hiawatha drew some interesting comments from some friends and family when we told them where we were going for a short holiday for they recalled reading about Hiawatha's story when attending primary school. 

Origin of name? Bob explained that Hiawatha was originally known as Fairview. The name change was made by the postmaster of the district who had been instructed to rename Fairview as there were two towns of that name in Victoria.

In the near vicinity of the Minneha'ha Falls, Hiawatha there are two panels containing historical information about the Fairview primary school and football club during the early years of the 20th century.

It was fascinating to browse through Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Song Of Hiawatha", which was on the shelf of our cabin. The chapter titled "the Wooing of Hiawatha" tells of why Hiawatha rejected the advice of his grand-mother to marry a maiden from another tribe, and describes his journey to seek permission from the chief of the Dacotah tribe to marry his daughter Minneha'ha.

                               (Hiawatha) journeyed without resting
                               Till he heard the cataract's laughter,
                               Heard the Falls of Minneha'ha
                               Calling to him through the silence
                               "Pleasant is the sound", he murmured
                               Pleasant is the voice which calls me

Minneha'ha, Laughting Water, is a waterfall running into the Mississippi, between Fort Snelling and the falls of St Anthony.

During our stay we visited Yarram, Port Albert and Manns Beach.

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