Some 30,000 years ago a volcano erupted in s.w. Victoria, Australia. As hot magna rose up from deep in the earth it came in contact with the subterranean water table. A violent explosion followed and created the shallow crater lakes and islands that are now known as Tower Hill. Artefacts found in the volcanic ash layers show that Aboriginals were living in the area at the time of the eruption.
Europeans arrived in the area in the late 1830s. Tower Hill contains some of the most fertile soil in Australia so the early settlers cleared the natural forest to graze stock. The aboriginals lived in an uneasy truce alongside the whites and can be seen camping in the foreground of this 1855 painting by the artist Eugene von Guerard.
The area was declared Victoria’s first national park in 1892 but little was done to protect it. By the 1960s relentless land clearing and over grazing meant the place was severely eroded and degraded – there was even a rubbish dump in the area. Around this time von Guerard’s painting, which had been held in a private collection, was donated to the local regional gallery and went on public display for the first time. His accurate depiction of the vegetation before the land was cleared inspired environmentalists to undertake the massive task of regenerating the area. These days descendants of the original Aboriginal tribe, the Gundjitmara people, manage the area.
As the forest returned the native animals returned of their own accord.
Going for a walk in Tower Hill – the bush closes in,
outside noises drop away – birds sing,
the wind murmurs through the trees.
At this time of the year the wattle is in flower.
Water is never far away
Alone in the bush an energy asserts itself – the energy of renewal – of regeneration – of hope
Prompt: Jo’s Monday Walk