Last time I cycled the Bellarine Rail Trail* the paddocks were verdant and the brilliant yellow hue of the canola reflected the early spring sun. Weeks later the land is sun-drenched, replaced by creamy straw wheat fields.
Growing up in the Wimmera I loved summer when it was harvest. There was a sense of urgency for the headers to strip the long ears of wheat and funnel them into trucks while the weather remained warm and dry. It was then stored in a silo on the farm waiting to be transported to the local train depot.
We loved to play in the silo when it was filled with wheat. The unstable nature of it on mass was the attraction. Warm, elusive and a little like quicksand, it shifted with your body weight and slipped through your fingers and toes. The smell was also seductive, a little like bread baking. Our secluded hideaway was only temporary until a change in weather or an end to cropping when it was then whisked away.
Driving through the Wimmera today there’s a noticeable change to the landscape indicative of the market and climate change. Rather than seeing only wheat, oats or barley crops, canola, lentils, chickpeas or vetch crops are planted.
From my naïve reckoning, the wheat crop pictured looks as if though it will have a reasonable yield when it’s harvested. Hmmm, I’m getting heady, conjuring up the smell and feel as it trickles through my fingers!
* The Bellarine Rail Trail starts at Queenscliff and travels via Drysdale to South Geelong a total of 32k’s.