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Steve Charman: 107 Miners Hut Road


 Steve Charman

107 Miners Hut RoadIt was such a joy in early 2005 to buy 107 Miners Hut Road (the 2 storey stone and cedar house near the top of Miners Hut Road) and to find that there was little I needed to do. Having spent too many of my previous years renovating houses it was a relief to be able to put my feet up and take in the great views to the west. Annie O’Shannessy, the previous owner told me that the range of mountains on the horizon was the far off Grampians. Much as I couldn’t at first believe it, I now accept it and yes, the view is quite something!

Most of the big jobs around the place I’m saving up for my retirement but I’ve done a few constructive things. I’ve landscaped the garden, planted a heap of fruit trees (as a firebreak of sorts), converted a very ugly shed into a quirky two roomed study, and commissioned a very unusual second bathroom/ fire refuge built (wedged) between two large concrete tanks. Other than that the property is pretty much as it was when Annie and Tim and family moved out. One improvement worth noting is my success in eradicating a worrisome weed- Tree Lucerne; which like English Broom is quite capable of taking over any patch of bushland if left to its own devices. It took me 6 years but at last I can say I’ve finally beaten this particular weed into submission.

tank_room_1tank_room_interiorIt took me awhile to realize that living among wild critters did have its downside. They seem to want to share the house with me.  Like a number of other residents up in the Bushlands, each Spring bees take up residence in the kitchen wall with hundreds making it into the house only to die in my kitchen sink. And Crimson Rosellas are ingenious in finding ways of getting into impossibly difficult situations- taking turns to do kamikaze dives down my flue pipes. A few years ago one made it into the house via the main chimney while I was at work. When I got home I discovered that it had been amusing itself by chewing through 3 sets of cedar blinds- not to mention gnawing on the window sills. If you’ve ever tried to remove a panicky bird from a house with cathedral ceilings then you’ll know it’s about as much fun for the catcher as it is for the poor bird.

It wasn’t long after moving in that I discovered that my drinking water was developing an increasingly foul odour and animal hair was coming out the taps. It didn’t take me long to realize that some animal had managed to climb into my freshwater header tank (7 metres off the ground) and that I faced the challenge of trying to find a way of removing it.  Luckily for me I quickly found the right man and the right machine for the job parked down the road at Taradale. Andre and his compact cherry picker! Needless to say once the poor unfortunate animal had been removed (a by now very unsightly sugar glider) I blocked all entry holes to the header tank with chicken wire and mosquito netting.

In the roof space I’ve had both ring-tailed possums and brush-tailed possums and last year I realized that sugar gliders were finding their way into the ceiling space above my kitchen. (I was alerted to their presence one night by their yapping call- very similar to a small dog). I do think I’ve solved the problem of the overly friendly possums by attaching nesting boxes directly to the house. The way I figure it is that they have no need to force their way into the roof space if they have a nice little home already made and ready for them. Well, it’s working so far!

And just recently I encountered a very aggressive and persistent brown rat (now deceased) who proved itself able to chew (repeatedly) through a plasterboard wall in ten minutes flat. And then there was a fox who decided to come up onto my deck, proceed around to my back door and leave me a calling card!

The large microbat colony in my mud brick studio seems positively benign in comparison. (And I won’t mention the wallabies that come in each evening to chew my fruit trees to shreds as it’s commonplace here.)

Still, most of the time the creatures and me get on fine. I’m not complaining… we bushlanders wouldn’t have it any other way!

One Response

  1. Cate Freeman says:

    What a delightful story Steve…
    well worth waiting for!

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