The Foreshore Paddock

Driving around the foreshore road on Sunday I recalled my childhood days living on our then, property “Raheen,” long before the road ever existed. The little gully running down to the lagoon was a mass of rotted, fallen trees and was so swampy that it was quite impassable. It was a great place for the local boys to ‘hide’ their dogs when word came ‘through the grapevine’ that the dog inspector was heading for Mallacoota. My sister, Mione and I always knew when a visit was imminent as our bedroom was on that side of the house at Raheen and those dogs howled all night.

The post office was situated on what was to become Martin Estate and Mrs Dorron was the Post Mistress. Her maiden name was Bucknall and a street in Mallacoota bears that family’s name. Sunday visiting was a tradition in those days and we would look forward to her coming for afternoon tea each week. We were always watchful of the rising tide as our mother, and we girls would walk with her down through the foreshore paddock to the lakes edge where we would wave her goodbye as she crossed the little roughly made wooden bridge to the other side. The little bridge was also our means of crossing, when the tide was low, to collect our mail from the Post Office.

The paddock was mostly bare of trees and particularly along the water front except for one ti-tree and a small jetty where Dad used to moor his cabin boat, ‘Sadie’ which was well known for fishing and sight seeing on the lake during the tourist season. Dad and his brothers Tony and Ted carted with horse and dray, soil from the foreshore paddock to establish a garden around their home, Mallacoota House which Grandmother Brady opened as a guest house during the 1920’s. Dad paid council rates on the portion of the land he owned and a rental of the part of the foreshore adjoining the lake was paid to the Lands Department as it was under their jurisdiction.

During the terrible 1939 fires when we vacated our houses and headed for the lake, the foreshore paddock was our place of refuge. As the fire raged along the top of the hill Mione and I were assuring our safety by picking up all the cow pats and taking them down to the shore as we had been told they made great fuel!
When the land was surveyed around the lake for the proposed road we lost part of our property and I shall always remember Dad during those Depression Years working so hard to fence both sides of the ‘road’ only to be told on it’s completion that they would have to be re-done because of a mistake in the measurements of the surveyed area. Our neighbour, Mrs Bruce had to face the predicament, also.

The foreshore paddock was a favourite nesting place for the spur-winged plovers. The nest being in slight depressions with stone-coloured eggs that were difficult to see, so when we brought the cows up to the top paddocks we were always in fear of the nests being trodden on in the fading light. We dreaded more the birds coming with lightning speed as they swooped on our heads, keeping up the attacks til we were a distance from the nesting grounds.

The road became a great asset to us enabling supplies to be brought to the house instead of dragging them up from the boat-and Dad was happily able to garage his Buick instead of leaving it up at the top of the hill behind Raheen. I often wonder with all the stipulations in this era would the Foreshore Road be allowed now but it is certainly a great facility for members of our community to enjoy.

Leone Pheeney

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