The beauty of landscape is often lost through the detrimental destruction caused by suburban encroachment, the serenity of a trickling watercourse through mossy green fields steadily polluted with the detritus of construction. Run off filled with waste water and polystyrene turning clear water rushing over the natural basalt a muddy brown, churning into foam on bends and into waterholes before long being imprisoned within a concrete tomb, rerouted underground into drains and sewerage systems. This is something I’m all too familiar with, the extension of metropolitan Melbourne into the south east obliterated the green pastures that lay like a crocheted blanket on the land, now dotted with the fluff of development. Streets poorly laid out as if a Ragdoll cat shed fur onto the quilt and streets assembled where it remained in poor design and even poorer taste. The remnants of time only relegated to trees grown old enough to be viewed as historical, with any built history pushed aside, remembered only in the names of the new estates.

Occasionally one is fortunate, fortunate in that it remains in place remembered and reused, given new life and new meaning, often defining place. Thought is given to the streets, the planning laid out in such a way to showcase these museums of the past, to not draw attention directly to but to be of intrigue and wonder at what lies within the centre, where the visibly old pine trees draw the eye above the sea of modern rooftops. At the crest of the rise overlooking Berwick township Edrington stands in parklike grounds, formally landscaped in the English style the mansion designed by Melbourne architect Rodney Alsop and built in 1906 for wealthy pastoralist Samuel McKay now the centrepiece and community centre for a retirement village. Restored, not to become a victim to development as so many in the area have before it, encased within its village setting the home fronts north to views across the landscape, only memory serves the picturesque scenes across the valley once painted by Arthur Boyd as would have been visible from the first floor windows, rolling hills dotted with the white trunks of gum yet to be carved up and sold off, now formed into wealthy estates of large holdings and large homes, a small reminder of a landscape forever changed.


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