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Murgheboluc Murmers

In my last column I told a little of the history and background to Murgheboluc, a community that straggles along that tortuous trail of tar known as the Hamilton Hwy (and once known as the Lower Leigh Rd.) between Inverleigh and Stonehaven.

This time I want to tell you a little about the adventures of today’s Murgheboluc citizens.

Readers will have noticed it’s been a bit dry lately.   The rain gauge in downtown Murgheboluc showed only 59 mms to mid-May, well below half the average for this time of year.   Murgheboluc is in a modest rain shadow formed by the Barrabool Hills and Mount Pollock, although it normally sits comfortably in the 500 mm annual rainfall belt.   

Few houses within the district have reticulated water supply.   As the clouds floated relentlessly by without a drop in the bucket, eyes focused anxiously to the sinking levels of water in the tanks and minds turned reluctantly to saving water again.   Should we flush the toilet (preferably), wash the car (happily no), what about the dog (hmmm – sheep trough for him), wash the clothes this week (applause for the Bannockburn Laundromat).   Pity about the dahlias and the battery went flat on the ride-on mower.

Most of Murgheboluc is occupied by farm land variously carrying sheep, the odd cow and assorted crops.   In days of yore farmers driving their cattle to market would stop and water their cattle at the Murgheboluc Reserve, staying overnight, before proceeding onto the saleyards in Geelong.   This was happening as late as the 1950s at which time the highway was still not sealed.   The early return of dry weather is less than welcome.

To the casual observer driving along the highway, Murgheboluc might seem like a sleepy farming district.   In fact the local economy is ‘diversifying’ as the economists would phrase it.   For example, there is the charming new quarry taking shape on the highway at the Geelong end of town, intended perhaps to provide stone for some of the region’s bigger road projects, but sited on what was once a Corriedale stud.   The quarry is gradually disappearing behind an earthen revetment that the Emperor Hadrian would be proud of.   The moat must surely follow.

The locals are waiting expectantly for the convoys of rock laden dog trailers to lurch onto the Hamilton Hwy and amble their way towards the ring road.

At the other end of town a poultry farm is proposed on the heights above the Barwon River.   The locals are in open rebellion.   The differences of opinion between applicant and objectors seem to be of some magnitude.   VCAT will need the wisdom of Solomon to find consensus on this one.   Instinct might suggest that a riverine environment is not necessarily the most benign place for intensive animal husbandry.   Rumour has it that VCAT has delayed its findings on the poultry farm, which must have applicant and objectors, alike, on tenterhooks.

There is only one community facility in Murgheboluc if you ignore the Hamilton Hwy and the Gheringhap-Maroona rail line, which hardly qualify as community facilities (important though they are to the national economy!).   This one facility is the Murgheboluc Reserve complete with its 139 year old bluestone hall that once housed the Murgheboluc School.   It is one of the prettiest public reserves in the region and hosts the Bluestone Blues music festival each new year, among other things.

The Reserve has a fine cricket oval complete with a concrete wicket covered with artificial turf (well, some green carpet like stuff anyway).   I mention this because reports have reached us here from the big smoke that the Murgheboluc Cricket Club has been elevated to the GCA Division one.   Pity they haven’t played at Murgheboluc for a decade or so.   Perhaps it’s time they changed their name.

Sadly one of our local residents, Jake the Border Collie, passed away gently the other day after reaching 13 years plus.   He had survived both the Hamilton Hwy and the snakes that reside here, largely because Jake was too lazy to bother with either.   In recent years an occasional woof at the mailman was all he could muster.   Vale Jake.   Enter Rusty.   

Rusty is a one year old boisterous Kelpie cross who has a different view of life to Jake based on the belief that any moving object should be chased hard.   He kindly rounded up a large Brown Snake the other day but it sensibly hid behind a pot plant that was too big for Rusty to tip over, although not for want of trying.   When Rusty looked away the snake took off up the back and disappeared with alarming speed.   Then Rusty decided that a saunter down the middle of the Hamilton Hwy to check out the trucks was just the ticket.   Fortunately a passing motorist declined the opportunity to run him over and corralled the puzzled dog until he was rescued (blessed be this Samaritan - by whichever God is appropriate).   Needless to say, Rusty has been confined to quarters ever since, a state of affairs that has made him decidedly sulky.



Murgheboluc Reserve