THIS book of my husband's is the natural outcome of the resultsof "The Keyline Plan", published in 1954. So much has happened since then,both in public response and practical results, that he has been frequently askedwhen his next book will be published. His familiarity with Keyline makes it so simpleto him that difficulty is experienced in realising this is not always so to others;now he is trying to remedy that in this book.
It is a narrative of practical experiments and experiences ina comprehensive approach to the planned use of land. He feels that no complete planhas been produced before and Keyline has got the merit of having been tried and provedsuccessful.
Although this book, then, is chiefly for farmers and graziers,we both hope it will also assist to further enlighten public opinion to the extentof widely realising that when our land folk are enjoying a substantial measure ofprosperity from high production, then many of our major national problems are onthe way to being solved.
The interest shown in his efforts over the last four years hasbeen outstanding, and visitors from all over the world have continued to visit ourplaces.
His Keyline Plan has been admired, condemned, criticised, acceptedin part and even pirated in part. Many have tried out sections of his plan on varioustypes of properties and farms, and where faithfully carried out, has yielded resultsthat have been more than satisfactory.
My experiences in the matter, too, have been interesting, sometimesexasperating, and often amusing. There was the woman who arrogantly demanded to beshown through the "Nevallan" home and became quite indignant when politelytold it was private property. A charming old lady in her eighties tramped aroundthe paddocks and her interest and enthusiasm were infectious. Another, a woman doctor,became so keen during a visit that she vowed on her return to the country practiceher land-owning patients should receive large doses of Keyline with her course oftreatment whenever she visited them. Others arrive for a quick inspection, checkingtheir watches on arrival and allotting perhaps a fifteen-minutes "stay".These people usually are on their way from the city to their inland properties andthe visit to our place is to be "just a passing look". They generally remainfor hours. One couple had four young children and a long journey ahead of them. Theyarrived about lunch time, but it was dark before the husband finally agreed to leave.His wife had my sympathy that day.
Together with our loyal staff we have shared interviews, lecturetours and the making of moving pictures. These pictures were shown in theatres andlecture halls, and "Nevallan" has been seen on television both here andin London. So Keyline is steadily progressing.
On one occasion a 1600-miles Keyline lecture tour of Victoriain a period of ten days was undertaken. I generally go with my husband, and whengiven the itinerary which some of our staff executives had worked out I doubted ourability to cope. It was certainly a full programme, consisting of visits to one ortwo properties in the morning, then lunch, and an average drive of one hundred milesin the afternoon, dinner, and a lecture talk at night with Keyline films. My husband,whose speeches are impromptu, remarked that he had to speak on a different aspectof Keyline each time, if only to keep me from falling asleep.
Regretfully, we can no longer be available on Sunday afternoonsat "Nevallan", as we have found ourselves unable to attend to this withthe pressure of other events. However, "Nevallan" is now in the capablehands of our properties manager and his wife, who are carrying on our work therevery successfully.
We go when possible to our properties, "Kencarley",at Orange, the Campbelltown Place, and "Pakby", at Bathurst. Here the workcan proceed much faster, as all those trial-and-error experiments of "Nevallan"and "Yobarnie" are eliminated and only normal problems can temporarilydelay progress.
On first inspecting "Kencarley" as prospective buyersthe weather was hot, the country dry, and the area altogether extremely discouragingand uninviting. I looked at its rundown, neglected appearance, heavily covered withscrub and trees, the barren soil, and broken fences--even the house was uninhabitable.My husband said to me, "Well, what do you think of it?" and my answer was,"If it wasn't for Keyline and tractors I wouldn't want to touch it." Weknow that many landholders and others considered the purchase a mistake, but so didseveral people when we first bought "Nevallan". The story there, of course,is different now and we expect similar results at these new areas, with the sameincrease in soil fertility and success that Keyline brought to "NevalIan".
The first year at "Kencarley" was unsatisfactory.Equipment and plant were constantly held up owing to bad weather, and consequentlyit would have to be transferred elsewhere and then brought back again. We had tocontent ourselves mainly with boundary fencing and line marking, and whenever a visitwas made a feeling of disappointment pervaded us.
The second year was different. The drought began and, althoughthis did not help with soil improvement, it did make possible the speeding up ofthe major development work, which now became fascinating to watch. I have stood withothers and surveyed a scene I had never before witnessed. The timbered country, alreadymarked according to Keyline, now showed rapid changes. One could see a strip of timberfalling before the bulldozers, with a line of trees about thirty yards wide leftstanding. Next would be seen another strip with fallen timber already burning inheaps, while a fourth one was being chisel plowed and seeded down. The whole process,from virgin timber to cultivation strips sown with pasture seed, taking place inthe one area, not just a few acres, but hundreds of them changing before our eyes.
This type of work, of course, is something made possible bythe coming of the bulldozer era, and with Keyline as the guide, no qualms are arousedthat such large projects may be a mistake.
With the clearing, commenced also the water storage sectionof the plan. Dam building started, and one farm dam, "Kencarley Basin",we believe is the largest in the Commonwealth, covering forty acres of pasture-sownpaddock and capable of holding over a hundred million gallons of water. Five damsare now completed here, with others still to follow. Water will be brought to themby carefully planned drains and released again via suitably large pipes through thewall to irrigate hundreds of acres below the walls on the Keyline flow pattern. Whenthe rains come, it is gratifying to watch the water under man's control flowing alongthe drains to its allotted place. During the building of the largest dam, locatedin a wet, swampy valley, a sense of urgency had developed. "Would it rain beforeit was finished?" Many were the anxious queries as to the weather. The raindid not come, however, and many months were to pass before the drought eventuallybroke.
The scene is changing constantly and we have to show peopleother areas not yet started to convince them of what has already happened.
As a contrast there is "Pakby", a 2,000-acre propertynine miles from, Bathurst, on the Mid-Western Highway, where the soil is granite.Here the land has been subjected to the thoughtless tree destruction of earlier daysand consequently suffers from strong winds. Like "Yobarnie", it enduredthe fate of a bushfire in our first year of occupancy, eight hundred acres of grasswere burnt and minor buildings damaged. "Pakby" is badly eroded, too, inparts with huge erosion gullies, caused by road water, beginning at the boundaryfence. Development work has now diverted the water to new irrigation dams, cultivationfor soil improvement continues and strips of land are prepared for tree planting.
Occasionally we are asked why our properties are all westwardof Sydney. Why not north or south, perhaps even some other region? Proximity to eachother and to large centres we find is time saving both for ourselves and our staff.There have been such comments as "Aren't you lucky, they are all in the onedirection when you want to go visiting." Time generally becomes such an importantfactor to us, that, when looking for land to buy, and being aware also of the factthat the city of Sydney is our main headquarters, travelling time and suitable accessroads play an important part in our decisions.
To some the work may seem a major undertaking, and consequentlybeyond their consideration, yet they will find it just as possible on a small scale,the pattern is the same, and in the development of a property there is pleasure andsatisfaction watching the plan unfold. One day recently I stopped the car to enjoya view of "Yobarnie". How very different it was to the old days! Now Isaw good green pastures on the gently sloping hills and valleys, dams of water correctlylocated and stock grazing contentedly. I don't think I have seen anywhere a viewmore beautiful. I know I felt very happy about it.
Finally, I would like to say that after four more years of observations,study and investigations, and having been given active support from scientists andmany others, men whose main thought in the matter is the welfare of their nationand who are able to weigh the evidence of Keyline clearly with an unbiassed mind,my husband is more convinced than ever in the soundness of the theory and practicesof Keyline. However, this book will help elucidate his ideas and beliefs and perhapsbe of some value to our nation as a whole. I know that we are both hoping that itwill be so.
Sydney, April 1958