Gippsland Summer – The People

Of course summer also means fun for the people and it’s the time of year when the historic Mirboo North swimming pool opens, as long as the temperature is predicted to be over 26C (it’s a heated swimming pool) and whatever other criteria for the pool to be opened has been met. The pool has changed quite a lot from the time when it first opened, going from a natural spring to a distinctly man-made facility, and today’s costumes are also quite different from those of the turn of last century.

Mirboo North swimming pool mural - Mirboo North Victoria

Mirboo North swimming pool mural – Mirboo North Victoria

When the pool first opened, it was fed by a natural spring, but over the years that has been built up and more formal pool facilities constructed. Yet it’s something that some people want to close down, with even suggestions of turning it into a skate park, amongst other things (I kid you not). Quite frankly, I’m surprised that the Mirboo North swimming pool hasn’t been classified by the National Trust, given it’s heritage and increasing rarity.

Mirboo North swimming pool mural - Mirboo North Victoria

Mirboo North swimming pool mural – Mirboo North Victoria

However, what a wonderful setting for a swimming pool it still is, circled by bushland and wide-open grassed spaces. People come to the pool from far and wide, as it’s one of the few open air pools in the area, which people seem to favour over the fetid enclosed pools. Within minutes of opening, the pool is already starting to fill with people, eager to once again enjoy the wonderful surrounds.

Mirboo North Swimming Pool: surrounded by beautiful bushland - Mirboo North Victoria

Mirboo North Swimming Pool: surrounded by beautiful bushland – Mirboo North Victoria

Mirboo North Swimming Pool: surrounded by beautiful bushland - Mirboo North Victoria

Mirboo North Swimming Pool: surrounded by beautiful bushland – Mirboo North Victoria

Summer also seems to bring out the good nature of the people in Gippsland, even more so than in the colder months, which is often reflected in the humour shown by locals. Such an example is one farmer who regularly allows others to write jokes on his hay bales and who took part in a pre-Christmas hide and seek game, called find the Minions. There were four Minions scattered after the notice, but many had difficulty finding the fourth (which I observed was located in a shed just visible from the road, but something not easily spotted by a driver). The fourth Minion appeared to move about and so spotting it was not an easy task.

Find the Minions (the what?) - Mirboo North Victoria

Find the Minions (the what?) – Mirboo North Victoria

These are the Minions - Mirboo North Victoria

These are the Minions – Mirboo North Victoria

Juvenile Minions sunning themselves - Mirboo North Victoria

Juvenile Minions sunning themselves – Mirboo North Victoria

Of course one of the things that is always of concern to every country community in Summer is the potential for bushfires. The Country Fire Authority (CFA), which is staffed predominantly by volunteers, is always ready to answer calls day or night. Summer is the time when Australia is on tenterhooks, fearing for the worst at the peak of the bushfire season. The start of the New Year has already been a tragedy for many communities in South Australia and Victoria, and Mirboo North experienced its first fire for the season in early January. A grass fire arose in a farmer’s paddock and it’s not clear whether the fire was deliberate or due to spontaneous combustion of hay bales (minions?) in the field (it was well over the predicted 35C this day). The fire was under control late afternoon and, in a way, it was fortunate that the field had been mown, or else the fire could have been far worse.

Grass Fire - Mirboo North Victoria

Grass Fire – Mirboo North Victoria

Grass Fire - Mirboo North Victoria

Grass Fire – Mirboo North Victoria

Grass Fire - Mirboo North Victoria

Grass Fire – Mirboo North Victoria

Country communities bond and come together in many ways that those in the cities don’t know about or understand. A lot has to do with self-sufficiency, in a manner of speaking, and pulling together because there simply aren’t the resources available that city folk take for granted. It’s something that I wouldn’t give up for quids.

Update: It appears that the fire was started by a hay baler catching fire and getting out of control.