Monika Schott PhD

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Living a life of ‘oh wells’ over a life of ‘what ifs’. Am a writer and researcher of sewerage ghost towns and the connectedness that forms within them and abject communities. I'm awaiting publication of my novel, 'The faraway land of the house and two cows', an undocumented social history of the community once living on Melbourne's first sewerage farm, the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm. I’ve had several short stories published, been short-listed in the Ada Cambridge Writing Prize, won the inaugural Wyndham Rotary Arts Small Business Award and completed a Master of Communication with a thesis on boys and reading and what it is they like to read.

The faraway land of the house and two cows book RELEASED JULY


After the delays of Covid, The faraway land of the house and two cows book will finally be released in early July 2022.

And much to our delight, it will be launched in the old Cocoroc South School that once sat on the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm.

The school shut in 1963 when enrolments fell below the required number of eight. It was relocated from the sewerage farm into Werribee to become the Girl Guides Hall.

The old school is the oldest surviving building from the Metropolitan Sewerage Farm, apart from the heritage listed water tank that was once located in East Melbourne and moved to the Farm as a back up water supply. The water tank still sits on the sewerage farm, now known as the Western Treatment Plant.

It was far more than a school though. It was the focal point for the bottom-end township on the Farm, with many meetings, dances, parties and more in the school house. It was also a focus for the Education Department back in the day when it wanted to shut the school down because of odours.

You can read more about that in the book, which you can PRE ORDER NOW 

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Congratulations!
Saturday, 07 May 2022 17:48
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks Stephen! ?
Wednesday, 11 May 2022 10:16
Rosy Cole
Yay! At last! Thanks so much for sharing your fascinating ride during the writing. Truly appreciated, Moni! x
Wednesday, 11 May 2022 19:30
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4 Comments

Recalibration

Leaves are rustling, it’s happening again.

It’s in the still of early morning where it’s loudest, a pre-dawn chatter between the folds of night where souls are at their busiest. The depth and frequency varies on the adjustment needed, but it’s an ever reliable constant, much like time, birth and death, night and day.

At its most poignant, it comes in silvery streams that cry a life of gold where no matter how hard or how often you wipe the sparkly streaks away, they reappear as absolute as the Earth rotates to stir the tides every lunar day.

It rouses a fullness on constant fill to overflow gilded cups, rousing days of lost and nights of long in mirthful cackles billowing from jiggling bellies.

It’s part of that knowing of always knowing. Reliability. Dependability.

A longing for one so near and far away too.

Silvery streams glimmer to the centre of soul and out again, swoon in the one adored, captivated in the oscillation of connection. The tears, the hoots, the aches and fill of completeness. Unseen and yet always the whispers, out of sight but never out of mind.

An ease of honesty flows fearless in the crisp autumn, words said without being spoken reverberate to the epicentre of all the universes. Inflections in tone and a cadence of understanding stir swills between souls to cinch in a thousand spikes and hook in firm, as essential as earth, water, wind and fire.

Angels with invisible wings care for the broken and wounded, watch over the outcast and vulnerable. Always guiding what is and what will be in a tenderness that only angels possess, and yet in a mighty bite armoured in bronze.

For now, it's time to recalibrate to the new, the next, the uncharted. There’s no start or end, simply a recalibration in a surge of ebbs and peaks.

In a world of constant movement and modifying, reshaping and revamping, the trick is to find the steady, the temporary oasis from the necessary paradox, even when considered a senseless contradiction.

Whether in a constant stream of shiny tears or rhythmic pounding of pavement, strumming of musical strings or tapping of keyboard.

The soft shuffle of a football while missing in thought or floating long enough in ocean currents to marvel at ancient coral inching for sunlight, long enough to wonder about the secrets slammed shut in the 100-year-old giant sea clam.

Even a dozen puppies chasing butterflies in a field of buttercups and cream gardenias will collapse in a snoring heap, in need of recalibrating.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
It's true, finding 'a temporary oasis' is a skill to be cultivated, never more so. Diving among the coral reefs must indeed call f... Read More
Wednesday, 23 March 2022 14:14
Monika Schott PhD
Yes, opposites sides, ends pinnacles of the earth! And yes, finding that temporary oasis is one of many skills we must learn, diff... Read More
Wednesday, 23 March 2022 19:57
363 Hits
2 Comments

My historical fiction: The faraway land of the house and two cows

Swimming

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.

Head of the Road, date unknown. Photo courtesy of the Pengelly Family.

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 Metropolitan Sewerage Farm community spread across the site, 1951. Map courtesy of the McNaughton family.

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.

Jim 'Snowy' Miller and Charlie Hickey out Moubrays Lane. Photo courtesy of the Pengelly family.

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.

Women’s

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.

Swimming pool, change rooms, community hall and heritage listed water tank, 2018.

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.

The

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…”

To learn more, visit monikaschott.com 

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Sounds wonderful - congratulations!
Monday, 18 October 2021 21:50
Monika Schott PhD
Thanks Stephen. I'm quite happy with it. ?
Tuesday, 19 October 2021 07:27
Rosy Cole
What an achievement, Moni, to have created something vibrant out of the lives of a tucked away community whose love and labour mig... Read More
Friday, 22 October 2021 15:05
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4 Comments

To be the poet, and the poem


Giving comes easy to some. It’s a natural extension of who they are and it seems to flow from inside of them, without any thought to the act of giving. They simply give and expect nothing in return.

It’s genuine. Authentic. Comes in the weave of ebbing crescendo, gliding in humbly and unassumingly as its own poetry.

So many give: family and friends that are family, lend a hand in the home and garden, organise lunch dates, extend gifts for no reason. Friends spreading good humour that radiates a smile and jigs a giggle, gifting joy without trying or realising.

Giving a road bike to encourage a new cycling path; a chunky musk candle, just because; and flamingo treasures for a bountiful home is a sincerity doubled: the giving of gift, and the giving of thoughtfulness to a love of the gracious pink birds.

Joy and wealth in giving and receiving is not so much in material riches or possessions, but more in esteemed care and compassion. There’s no wish for praise, pride or recognition, no ego at all. It’s not forced and comes of pure heart, without emptying of self, as an unconscious and authentic wave of life. A poetry of life.

The giver is the creator, the poet offering their poetry to any in need. Assisting and helping to protect and empower the vulnerable and those without, those disadvantaged or perishing in poverty, where any inequality exists. The world would not be without such charitable beings.

Givers give with kindness and consideration. Bestowing, bequeathing and honouring in the grace of the most silent and wealthiest of philanthropists … the snow leopard shimmying at dusk.

The local vet and nurses dote on our pooch battling terminal cancer, changing her bandages every second day. In a jungle-green bordering on jade bandage wrapped around her front legs and top half of her black coat, the little miss prances out as a pretty princess in an assemblage of blue and red love hearts and stars, Christmas trees, baubles and presents. One time, it was a blue stencilled Schnooze emblazoned across her bandage. Today she’s decked in a six-pointed red star atop, as the star she is.

Going beyond the servicing transaction, beyond all requirement in free flowing flounce and flare.

I see it in work too, in the sharing of stories and family treasures from long ago that mesh with titbits into astonishing story and rhyme. It’s a universal giving stemming from a utopian world, one that survived on the humanity of generosity and that connects beyond reason or rationale.

Why do people give, why so kind and generous?

A not-so-old, old friend of mine lavished me two of her art pieces recently. I didn’t want her to miss out on sales but she insisted on gifting them to me. She wished to give them to people she likes. This, from a woman who shares a new piece of art with quote of uplift each day on Instagram.

The joy in doing something worthwhile, to give without condition or expectation is a nourishment impossible to measure. When we give, we’re attentive. We’re listening and observing. Acknowledging. Life can seem better and friendlier, more connected and caring. Validated even. It can awaken a lotus flower basking in the sun, and can feel like a friend walking in when the rest of the world has walked out.

It’s giving with grace and compassion. With love. Nurturing in a care that flows without a ripple, in a simple smile or hello in the street. A thank you, a yes or no, a recognition.

It’s as bright as the Milky Way in an outback sky.

Of course there are always the takers, the narrow minded and judgemental, just as there is positive and negative, good and bad. Life is like that, full of polarity.

And yet it’s this polarity that can inspire the poet to create the poem, the poet that is also the embodiment of a beautiful poem.

What a cosmic bang of another kind of poetry when the giving is reciprocated: the giving to someone who gives back.

Copyright

© Image: If you cannot be a poem, be the poet, by vikki_vision on Instagram

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
"The joy in doing something worthwhile, to give without condition or expectation is a nourishment impossible to measure. " True o... Read More
Saturday, 16 January 2021 16:33
Monika Schott PhD
I agree, Stephen. It's the simple things.
Friday, 12 February 2021 02:02
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2 Comments

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