The Gadubanud people are the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters throughout the region where the Quarry is located.
The Eastern Maar are Traditional Owners of South-Western Victoria. Their land extends as far north as Ararat and encompasses the Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Great Ocean Road areas.
‘Eastern Maar’ is a name adopted by the people who identify as Maar, Eastern Gunditjmara, Tjap Wurrung, Peek Whurrong, Kirrae Whurrung, Kuurn Kopan Noot and/or Yarro waetch (Tooram Tribe) amongst others.
Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC) is the professional organisation that represents the Eastern Maar People of South-Western Victoria and manages their Native Title rights and Interests.
The Beech Forest Quarry is inextricably linked to the region’s timber and forestry history and was foundational in forming roads into rainforest for the purposes of timber harvesting. As such, the Quarry is a product of invasion and colonisation, the impact of which is starkly evident throughout the whole region. What was once dense temperate rainforest is now predominantly farmland, having been intensively deforested.
We recognise the damage caused by invasion and colonisation which continues to this day, and we are committed to an ongoing and life-long process of learning and understanding through the Quarry as a project.
The Beech Forest Quarry is located in a lush, temperate rain-forest zone, positioned high on a ridge, 45 minutes north to Colac and south to Apollo Bay.
Victorian Rainforest is dominated by a dense canopy of non-Eucalypt tree species over an understory of climbers, broad-leaved shrubs, ferns and small soft-leaved herbs. In Victoria it occurs in sheltered gullies at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1500 metres above sea level with annual rainfall between 630-1500 mm.
Beech Forest has a recent history of productive farming and agriculture, as well as a more recent focus on sustainable systems, environmental regeneration and creative industries. The local timber and farming industries, although productive, have reduced employment opportunities due to advances in plant and equipment, and logistical efficiencies which has impacted regional populations and townships in Beech Forest and surrounding areas.
The Quarry is bound by a privately owned and operated dairy on three sides, with a public cricket oval to the west.
The Quarry pit is at the centre of the site and ranges from 3 to 12 meters in depth. The base of the Quarry is a mixture of rock face, grassland and water bodies. It is a landscape that we have found endlessly fascinating to wander across and look at closely.
Introduced, native, invasive, endemic, threatened and thriving have all found a space at the Quarry. The careful management of this site requires intervention at almost every level; while at the same time, interestingly, the site does seem to thrive when it is left alone. We grapple with this contradiction.
There is a contoured edge around the base of the Quarry populated with trees and understory vegetation. This area of the Quarry has been where blackberries have taken significant hold. Through clearing these areas the regrowth of other species has been successful.
Water is managed through a series of culverts and channels, diverting through a series of holding ponds that remove silt and provide a deep water ecosystem. A deep cutting prevents the Quarry floor from flooding. There are three spring-fed water bodies interconnected to each other and the cutting. Due to the ecology and condition within the gully, this area has regrown as a small yet distinct sample of rainforest.
The eventual runoff from the site to the neighbour’s dairy provides an additional rainforest gully as well as providing a reliable source of freshwater for the neighbouring livestock.
Key dates from European settlement in the transformation of the region’s land, the establishment of its industries and the Quarry.
|Cape Otway first surveyed by Lieutenant James Grant
|Settlement of Port Philip Bay begins.
|New South Wales Colonial Government passes the Squatting Act, legalizing the occupation of Crown Land. First settlers arrive into Lake Colac area.
|European contact with the Gadubanud people (Chief Protector George Augustus Robinson).
|Massacre of Gadubanud people by the party of Government surveyor George Smyth.
|Exploitation of the Otways’ timber resources begins at Apollo Bay.
|First saw mill established at Colac.
|A series of Land Acts begin to make Crown Land available for purchase to squatters.
|The Land Act 1884 opens the Otways to selectors after having served as a Timber Reserve. Land is purchased as blocks from a numbered allotment map and is sold within eight days.
|The Quarry land was part of John Gardner’s original selection which was 320 acres. He was one of the original settlers of Beech Forest and was instrumental in the development of the town.
|Construction of Colac Beech Forest railway line (‘The Beechy Line’) commences, with work (laying and ballasting the track, forming earthworks, building culverts and bridges) undertaken by approximately 100 men based in camps.
|Quarrying of Arkose Sandstone for road-making materials begins at Beech Forest.
|Quarry owned by Thomas Fender after it was subdivided and sold off in blocks of approximately 16 acres.
|John Gardner owned the remaining 54 acres.
|Jack Foreman owned the 16 acres.
|The 16 acres were sold and Condons operated the Quarry. Victory later operated the Quarry for their own roads in Forest and sold material to general public.
|The quarry is sold to Skeet and Silvia Morrow.
|Beech Forest Quarry decommissioned due to the hardness classification of the stone, which is too soft for the high volume, heavy-vehicle loads that are used in commercial timber harvest.
|These Are The Projects We Do Together purchase the Quarry and the Quarry License is transferred.
Seeking to extend and expand a network of creative infrastructure projects from Melbourne into a regional setting, the Quarry is linked to Testing Grounds and Siteworks and their creative communities.
While the site is physically quite different, the ideas and ambitions are aligned through being collective, cross-disciplinary, care-based, and site embedded.
Through the Quarry, we are particularly interested in developing and supporting creative and experimental projects and activities that consider the history of the region, that work with the geology and form of the post-extractive landscape, and that directly engage with our local communities.
The rehabilitation plan and its specific requirements are points of departure. We aim to slow down and expand the process of rehabilitation and to learn through doing, as opposed to projecting a series of predetermined outcomes onto the landscape in order to satisfy the requirements of a rehabilitation plan.
How do we engage with history and extraction legacies while forming a new, non-extractive relationship to land? Rehabilitation as action, subject, process, and attitude.
We hope to provide an alternative and genuinely innovative process for other small-to-medium scale quarry sites.
While the requirements of a rehabilitation plan and site are context specific, the overarching process and mechanism for quarry rehabilitation is consistent across all mine and quarry sites in Victoria. How can our approaches be transferred to other sites whilst being specific to this site?
Development at the Quarry involves infrastructure to accommodate camps, creative programs, residencies and events.
The main element of this design work is a simple large shed with a workshop, commercial kitchen and pantry, caretaker’s residence, studio spaces and bathroom facilities that harvest water from the roof. All waste water will be treated by a commercial in-ground worm farm.
In addition there are plans for a raised rainforest gully walk and contour path tracing the inside of the Quarry pit, landscaping around the swimming hole, and a 150-seat, open-air amphitheatre constructed of quarry stone and reclaimed brick.
The infrastructure has been designed so that it can be built in stages, and scaled based on available resources. The built forms draw on a local vernacular of large rural sheds and celebrate the history of DIY homesteads and camp grounds.
As a way of guiding the project over the long term and identifying attitudes and approaches to the process of rehabilitation, we devised a series of overarching phases related to the site, our programming ambitions and our engagement with groups. These phases step through a range of modes of working and have been understood as the following:
This phase has been about understanding the initial conditions of the Quarry, coming to learn about its history and the region, and its connection with industry. During this phase there were initial assessments conducted of conditions, some preliminary make-safe works and road clearing. During this time there has been much dreaming and consideration of future plans.
This next phase has been defined by a range of activities that were self-initiated, initiated by others or invitational. Throughout this time the site has been used in different capacities through education and arts-based modes – design studios, group excursions, residencies and creative projects have all taken place.
The overarching aim of this phase is to learn through camping about how to work from the Quarry and how to scale up various activities and group work. A focus comes in here on new modes of productivity and production – a shift away from the extractive, and a move towards creative modes of production and culture building.
This future phase positions a goal to have the Quarry fully established as a creative and productive site with facilities and capacities to accommodate big groups and a wide range of projects. A shift here relates to moving from work to life. While this project produces a blurring of these definitions, by 2024 we anticipate that there be a constant presence on site through year-round occupations of different types, which would mean that a day-to-day routine of life and work is integral to the project.
We have come to frame the core rehabilitation actions across three domains. Within each domain there are immediate actions required as part of the rehabilitation process. As part of our broader approach to rehabilitation, we are also identifying longer-term opportunities and interests which are, at this point in time, posed as a series of questions.
Managing blackberry growth is a priority of the rehabilitation plan. An estimated 60% of the Quarry has blackberry coverage with many of these areas hard to access. The blackberry growth is most prevalent at the site edges and is thick and impenetrable along the Quarry slopes and batter. Blackberries and their containment and management have been front and centre for the past six years, and a range of approaches have been tested. The Site is being used by the Blackberry Taskforce as a sample site in the Otway region for community education.Key activities include: Managing blackberries through a wide range of different techniques including hand pulling; painting and targeted chemical use; improving soil quality; revegetating Quarry edges; surveying existing species and observing animal populations.
We have come to understand that the site has a series of interconnected water flows that are core to how this post- extractive landscape is working, most significantly, a deep cutting through rock prevents the Quarry floor from flooding, and is connected as a water source to the adjacent dairy.
There are three connected waterholes at the top of the cutting in the Quarry floor. These have different depths and different conditions. There are signs that the deepest water hole has been formed through the use of explosives as part of previous quarrying activity. This leads us to believe that its formation is the beginning of the next level down in the Quarry plan.Key activities include: Observing and coming to understand the existing flows of water across the site, including a seasonal understanding of the deep cutting and how it relates to the water levels in the Quarry floor. Attending to the shallow channel that cuts across the floor and flows into the water bodies, testing water quality within water bodies and measuring depth of the main water hole. Commissioning a Land Capability Assessment that maps the creeks and various water bodies and their sensitive zones across the site and its surroundings. Managing flooding on the Quarry floor through light grading and material movement.
One of the most interesting aspects of this site as a post extractive landscape is the formation and contours of the ground plane. Exposed rock faces, mounds of crushed material, piles of large rocks – a strange state of pause caused by the sudden end of the extractive quarrying activities. The edge of the Quarry and the land formation between high and low ground is varied and distinct. While it has been covered by blackberry growth until recently, it is slowly being revealed as blackberries are removed.
Key activities include: addressing immediate landslip concerns including water build-up to the South of the Quarry floor; addressing blackberry growth and the impact of blackberry removal on ground stability; consolidating material stockpiles across the site and the Quarry floor; grading areas of the Quarry floor to manage wet/dry zones; and encouraging tree growth and understory growth along Quarry edges.
We respectfully acknowledge the Gadubanud People as original inhabitants of the area now known as the Otway plains and ranges. We respectfully acknowledge elders – past, present and emerging. We extend our deepest respects to all First Nations peoples. In the context of the work we do, we express gratitude for our shared connection through place, to the oldest continuing cultures on earth.
The Quarry is operated and managed by These Are The Projects We Do Together.