On the North coast of New South Wales, the second most diverse area for flora and fauna in Australia, only 1% of the original forest, called “The Big Scrub” is still in tact. Having campaigned to save the little that was left from logging, having some wins, we are now under attack again, and the last remnants that feed the Koalas near Coffs Harbor are set to be logged.

This got me thinking about South Australia, how much was covered originally and by what. I know there are still some wonderful large Eucalypts in the Kangarilla area, smaller around Mt Barker and of course the Mallie was cleared a lot and we have many accounts of that.

Talking about the limestone Mallie country, I think of my great grandmother. Isabella Annie Lavinia von Boeckmann, she was a tough little lady and lived at Karoonda in the Mallie. Charles Evans her husband was a farmer and a builder and while Isabell watched their many children and ran the post office, he camped on their farm during the week. The thing with the limestones is they keep coming up every time you plough, they used to be picked by hand and put in piles.

Having also lived at Karoonda for a time, as a shearers cook, I know first hand the harsh climate and routine. The farmers mother shocked me one day by grabbing the feet of her old hens that had been slaughtered, cutting out the abscesses, scrubbing off the dirt and chook poo with a finger nail brush and boiling them for our dinner. I wasn’t hungry that night. BUT I realized that she would have learned this from her pioneer mother all the same.

What I did love was the old wood oven we used there, it, like my previous one at Eden Valley, made a tinking noise, you could tell if it was heating up, or cooling, by the pitch of it. We still use a wood stove where I live now, slow cooking is much more relaxing than jumping to the ding of a microwave.

The Mallie is a hard timber, the roots were prized for firewood, especially on baking day.

Anyhow, I do wonder how many trees grew at gawler, in the market garden areas and suburbs of SA.

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