The Photo Vault: Millewa Pioneer Village
Millewa Pioneer Village, Victoria, Australia, 2006
A journalist friend of mine had a story to file about an open day at the Millewa Pioneer Park in Meringur, a tiny town about an hour or so from Mildura, so she invited me along for the day. I was very involved in my community, and this is just one of the types of things that would fill up my weekends.
The Millewa Pioneer Village is a site where a collection of buildings and vintage farm implements, show what life as a farming pioneer in the olden days was like. There is a good collection of history and displays that while interesting, also show the decline in population that is is an important issue in rural Australia.
The population drain on rural and regional Australia isn´t just the young people being drawn to the bright lights of the cities for study and work, but is also a result of changing farm practices, technological advances in agriculture and economics. In order to make a living, farms are bigger than they were when the settlers arrived to farm their parcel of land. Over the years farms have been consolidated, and what was once a viable farm for a family and their grown children also working the farm, no longer provides a living for just one family. So as a result of the growing farm sizes to support a family, the population in these rural areas has declined to reflect this change.
It´s a difficult issue because services that were once available, also become unviable. But one of the beautiful things about rural communities is their spirit and their tenacity. The open day was a success and many people came out to support the day, not just locals, but people from Mildura and other small towns.
I miss my community. I miss being involved in activities and events that make my hometown a better place. I miss the friendships and acquaintances I have there and I miss bumping into people I know and having a little chat truly caring about what they are up to. I haven´t yet found a way of carving out my own community here in Santa Marta, and perhaps that is another factor making me feel rootless at the moment. But this photo, of the mallee scrub, with a gorgeous flowering gum and the iconic corrugated iron water tank makes me feel that my community will always be there, waiting for me to return.
The Photo Vault is where I will be sharing my favourite photos (and their stories) that deserve better than being lost in the depths of my iPhoto never to be shared.