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Hauling junk is over-represented on this blog. Despite how often we allude to it, cleaning up piles of scrap has steadily been slipping down the list of ‘things-to-do’ in favour of the million other farm jobs. So this year, to keep motivated, we registered as an official Clean Up Australia Day site.

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The Picnic at the End of the World: Morning tea at Ground Zero

The day was windy, marking the shift back towards winter, and as we set to work, two Wedge-tailed Eagles circled above, one harassed by the resident family of magpies while the other lazily surfed the thermals. After the burst of heavy rain a couple of weeks ago, already fresh new grass is emerging.

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Cue theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey

We focussed our efforts on one gully, tentatively named George Gorge in honour of the youngest member of the clean-up crew. In the bizarre way that the dumping appears to have been organised, the archaeological theme of this particular patch seemed to be light-fittings, women’s shoes, inner tubes and glassware. The markings on the bottles date this pile somewhere in the early-1970s, with a possibly-colonial red herring in the form of a Woodroofe’s bottle fragment.

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Mystery object of the day: a metal can filled with some kind of solid. Looked like concrete, but was relatively light and had the greenish tinge of copper. Any ideas?

All of the bottles we found carried manufacturer’s addresses in and around Adelaide, reminding us of how diverse and localised our economies were not so long ago. The vast quantities of Pickaxe bottles we gathered are an example of this, where manufacturers produced robust bottles designed to be returned, washed and refilled multiple times. This practice apparently remained until the mid-1990s when beer exports interstate no longer made returnable bottles viable.

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The turning of the seasons

Another gully has been cleared in preparation for the planting season, and our backyard is now piled high with old bottles. With a good scrub perhaps they’ll be robust enough to hold another few rounds of brew.

Thanks to Eric and George for their invaluable assistance.

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