Sewerage ghost towns. They exist. Just ask Sorrowing Father, Dear Daughter and Blackened boy, and Yankee doodle dandy that smiles with the eyes and his shadowy mate. They and other characters tell the untold story of the community once living on Melbourne’s first sewerage farm through a timeless reality.
The faraway land of the house and two cows is a story like no other. Unique because it’s the story of an isolated community once living on a sewerage farm: beside land filtration and grass filtration paddocks being watered 24 hours a day with Melbourne’s sewage. And it’s told by characters with their own connection to the place in a way that combines fact, memories and legendary tales.
The faraway land of the house and two cows is a must read historical fiction about the families that built and maintained the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm: from early workers and their families arriving in the 1890s to camp on the foreshore, living and working through the great Depression, both world wars and boom times of the 1950s, to ultimately move away from the four main settlements spread across the sewerage farm, to leave an abandoned town in the 1970s. A sewerage ghost town.
The community was behind the making of one of Australia’s most important civic works projects from the 1890s into the 1900s, providing job security during the 1890s economic crash and the 1930s depression.
Colourful characters tell the story of community life across the Metropolitan Farm: in both the bottom-end and top-end townships and out around Murtcaim, the Ranch and Moubrays Lane, about how and why it all began in the 1900s, until the community’s tragic demise.
There are highs and lows, as in any community, and historical moments that mark time.
Where tennis courts and croquet lawns are now covered over beneath overgrowth upon overgrowth, under the eye of the football pavilion still standing and where dalliances within them and by the workshops nearby, continue.
The oval where football and cricket were once played still exists, even if smothered in a dense, undulating cover of green with goal posts standing on command at each end, serving the dual purpose of ventilation through their tops for sewage pipes running below the ground’s surface. The community hall still stands, now refurbished as a centre for education, and the swimming pool exists, although set to become a rain garden. The change rooms were demolished and rebuilt to serve as public toilets, and the heritage listed water tank commands as a reminder of Melbourne’s first water supply.
The reservoir is gone, the church and all four schools too. No abode or home exists or gardens well tendered or the cows that came with homes for milking. All are gone. In physicality, that is.
In the sublime of the underworld in this ghost town of lands faraway, many breathe beneath the earth from where they once stood.
Pre-release reviews are saying:
“A brilliantly told story…”
“I was a wreck... I cried my eyes out... it finally got me, all the sadness, emotion, loss, pain of endless change, the desperate ache for what Was … WOW! WOW! WOW! Thank you...”
“Who would have dreamt that a tale of such grandeur could come from a load of old sewage? Monika did, and the Magic of her words create a Time Machine that takes us back to glimpse moments in the lives of a multitude of colourful characters. She puts flesh back on the bones of the ghosts of the past. We experience the lives, loves, losses and tragedies of pioneers, heroes and the occasional villains. Monika has woven the twists and turns of Life and Afterlife over Time and Tide…”