Access to Dreamland

Before we could start creating Dreamland, we had to organise efficient access. Even though Gaë and Pauline (the wonderful previous owners), who are still renting, graciously said we can work around them, we wanted to do it with as little affect on them as possible. We also wanted to avoid having to jump the fence every time. Although my wife loves going for a challenge such as jumping a fence, you can’t realistically jump the fence with a wheelbarrow filled with tools or mulch. We also wanted to avoid the long walk around. Even though Dreamland lies back-to-back with Homeland, according to Google maps it’s exactly 549.56 meters around the block from the one driveway to the other. And yes, even the 0.56 of a meter counts when you are pushing a loaded wheelbarrow! And so the construction work to access Dreamland began...

Secondary driveway

On the front side, we wanted to create a secondary “access road” from the real driveway to the back of the property. We wanted this fenced off from the living space, so we and other workers can access the back part of Dreamland without interfering with Gaë and Pauline . In later years if we can develop Dreamland to its full potential this would then become a very useful working entrance. As a side benefit we can always grow kiwi berries all over the fence, or maybe passion fruit? An edible fence is definitely better than just an ordinary fence.

The first part of this job was to move some parts of the large bed back to create a 3.5m wide access road. According to my friends at The Mulch Centre, that’s how wide you need to drive a big truck on. So we started hacking back some of the growth, transplanted some of the border and removed the rest for later composting.

 

Driveway clearing

Clearing the secondary driveway

 

Next we looked at putting a small fence along the access road to separate it from the house’s living space. I got a few quotes for fences but they were a) ridiculously expensive and b) the guys would take a month to get a gap in their schedule to come and put it in. We didn’t have that luxury, neither of money, nor of time. Especially not time because we needed to get the majority of the trees planted in winter. So off we went to our favourite hardware warehouse and came back with untreated cedar posts and some stiff fencing material – mostly because I don’t have the tools nor the skills to do fence work with floppy chicken wire – well, not neatly anyway. Fencing and working with wire is one of my weakest points, but with some help from Adrien (Gaë and Pauline’s son) and Markus I think we did OK in the end. And when you look all the way down it from one end to the other, “straight” is a fair descriptive word to use! Anyway, Kiwi berries will eventually grow nicely all over it.

 

Fence

Markus helping to pull the fence straight

 

Gateway to Dreamland

From our existing property we initiated work on direct access to Dreamland before doing the driveway and fencing. As I was not yet really confident to work neatly with fence wire, we contracted a company to install two gates between the two properties. They took forever to start on the job, but in the end they did a neat job with thick untreated cedar posts and some nice wide gates that the ride-on mower and wheelbarrows can easily go through. We placed one gate near the envisioned chicken coup and one right at the back for access into Dreamland’s planned work area.

We wanted to put a sign over the gate to indicate Dreamland / Homeland, more as a family fun project than for any serious signposting. Also, for anyone visiting who follows the blog, it would make sense. I enquired about signposting from a local Aboriginal culture centre, as it would have been good to have some artistry that ties back to the earth, but to this day I have not had a response from them. I googled around for some naturally rough looking carved wood signs, and the cheapest I found was for $600. So I went out to TimberZoo  – they have the most amazing reclaimed wood there  – and found a suitable piece for a large signboard at $28! So we made a family project of it to draw, carve, and artistically burn the sign.

 

Homeland gate

The Dreamland/Homeland gate from the other side

 

In retrospect I could have done the gates between the two properties myself – I had done a gate before into the berry patch. I’m sure with a bit of help or maybe renting the right tools I would have managed to pull the fence tight again, and maybe saved a few hundred. But, it is done now and we have access to our Dreamland ticked off the list!

Lessons learnt

  • If you have the time, and you measure properly, work a bit slower and neater, you can install a short fence and even gates at more than half the price a contractor would charge you. (For a really long fence, like all the way around a 3 acre property, I would still get the pros to do it – you just can’t compare at that scale.
  • Getting the family to draw and paint the sign is a really great way to get them involved, committed to making Dreamland a success, share ownership of the project and have a lot of fun together at the same time.

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