Friday, November 26, 2010

Aldinga Community Garden in South Australia and Aldinga Aero Club

On holidays in SA we checked how things are going at "our" house of 8 years ago, how the Aldinga Aero Club is going (I was the founding President nearly 20 years ago) and to see what has happened at new-ish community gardens at Symonds Reserve Aldinga.  The nearly 1400 Eucalyptus cladocalyx (South Australian Sugar Gum) we planted on "our" 4 acres 12 years ago after we bull-dozed the almond trees are MONSTER tall. The aim of growing them was as possible wood fire fuel and garden mulch, or maybe just let them grow and grow. They were planted on 3M by 2M spacings so they go straight up tall and clean of low branches. They can be cut to the ground and will resprout - epicormic growth. The regrowth can be chainsawed back to one main leader and hey presto the tree grows again, and can be cut again - twice more in fact- when the trunk has reached the height needed. This becomes a carbon cycle of taking in carbon while growing, storing it as the growth matures, releasing it again when harvested, then storing it again as the tree grows. Ultimately the tree is best left alone, perhaps after the grove is thinned out to give each tree more light and share of water.  Very mature Euc cladocalyx make good furniture timber, bees love the flowers for honey, and as the adiabatic winds (gully winds) which pour off the Sellicks hills in Summer are pretty fierce at night, they really shelter the house and other garden plants.
"Our" house faced north and looked over what became vines after the almond industry moved to the Riverland. The house is built of cement-stabilised rammed earth, walls 30cms thick, local Willunga slate on the floor. A very simple rectangular house and very comfortable. We used to fly gliders at Gawler and the airstrips there are cement stabilised rammed earth, built early in WW2, Liberator bombers and Kittyhawks operated there. It was the major receiving station for military signals and an early radar station. The entrance to the signals room - an underground concrete bunker - was via an unguarded chook shed. The apparent entrance was a conspicuously guarded building much further away. The airstrips still survive but now have bitumen taxiways to minimise dust and prop damage to powered aircraft.
Anyway, back to present day Aldinga  --
At the airfield it is all we dreamed of all those years ago. The airfield is owned by a group of shareholders, Aldinga Aviation,  the flying school and aero club are separate organisations and both operate there. The flying school is the operator of the training aircraft and the aero club is a social flying group who hire/fly from the school. Great arrangement, great flying school, lovely shaded verandahs to sit on and watch air ops and talk flying and drink real coffee and eat great cake.

Modest but comfortable clubhouse for Aldinga Aero Club

The Sellicks hills behind the Aldinga Airfield are low, rounded and look like a line of sleeping elephants  The PC-12 turboprop

The Aldinga Community Garden is built on old tennis courts so it has the advantage of being close to other social groups and an old but substantial chain wire fence which is pretty tall.  Nobody there as they work on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  
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