Dry-Stone Walling in the Melton Shire
The original dry stone wall within Olivia spanned 126m and formed part of The Greigs Road Dry Stone Wall Precinct; a group of Shire of Melton walls, built circa late 1850s to 1870s. (Planning Collaborative, 2011). The dry stone wall is of heritage significance and forms part of the cultural landscape within the City of Melton. This collection of dry-stone walls are included in the Heritage Overlay (HO204) to the Melton Planning Scheme, recognising their significance to local history and implementing planning controls for walls that should be protected.
The history of the dry stone wall dates back to the 1850s, where two events prompted a major increase in the construction of permanent fencing, including dry stone walls. Firstly, the gold rush created a shortage of labour for shepherding, increasing the need for permanent fencing to contain livestock; secondly, the sale of extensive tracts of Crown land to pastoralists, providing them the incentive to invest in infrastructure.
Characteristics of the Greigs Road Dry-Stone Walls
Local dry-stone walls are built from local sources of stone, constructed through careful placement of rocks without using cement or other binding materials, with each stone handled only once. The field stones from which the walls have been constructed are predominantly round, heavy and medium to large in size, round stones are not ideal for high walls; therefore, most of the Greigs Road walls, including Olivia’s, are low in height and taper in shape having wider bases. Posts and wire were an addition to many of the walls in the precinct to prevent stock wandering.
What was the process for re-building Olivia’s dry-stone wall?
In 2018, Olivia’s archaeologist and heritage consultant, Ecology and Heritage Partners, were engaged to prepare a dry-stone wall assessment and management plan in accordance with the endorsed planning permit. Extensive photographs were taken in sections along the wall, recording the width, height, and length of sections photographed, detailing the construction style used to build the original wall and the existing condition of the wall. The dry-stone wall was predominantly in its original condition, however, there was evidence of reconstruction in sections, where concrete and bricks had been added over time to maintain the structural integrity of the wall . The survey also assessed the landmark quality of the wall for its integrity, authenticity and cultural landscape value.
The dismantling and storage of Olivia’s wall was carried out carefully and methodically by professional dry-stone waller, Paul Middleton of Stockade Stone Build, ensuring stones from each section of the wall would remain not only in the original section, but also reflect the general position of the stones within the original wall.
The reconstruction of the wall began in August 2021 and was constructed meticulously by Stockade Stone Build, with the careful placement of each stone in the correct position. Care was taken to retain the original unrefined construction style while increasing the structural integrity in a way that respects the values of the cultural landscape of the City of Melton. The first section of the dry-stone wall is now complete and practical completion has been issued by Melton City Council. Completion of the balance section of the dry-stone wall is proposed to be completed within the next 18-24 months.
More information on Olivia’s dry-stone wall, designated D1, can be found under Dry Stone Walls Study on the Melton City Council website under “HO204 Greigs Road Precinct – Statement of Significance”.