I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Monday, February 09, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: What does the Museum Say?

I've visited the Melbourne Museum a couple of times, but this year in a number of different contexts am starting to realise what a brilliant place it is. Although it is a mere ten minutes walk from my office, I don't get that there that often and on Thursday I didn't actually get there till after two, and had not had my lunch. As I was buying my ticket I found myself signing up for a year's membership, and instantly began to relax, as I knew I wouldn't have to rush to see everything. (And would also have time for museum/gallery lunch: one of my favourite recreations while doing research or tourism in foreign cities -- or the museum down the road.)

I had a few things I wanted to see for my other project, but I also wanted to see what the museum "said" about bluestone as a Melbourne stone. I only visited the Melbourne section, and found a beautiful block of the stuff, cheek by jowel with other Melbourne stones: marble from Lilydale and Gippsland (Buchan); sandstone from the Grampian; limestone from Waurn Ponds (also from Portland and Warrnambool); granite (the most common local stone); and another whole display about bricks, made from the dense clay around Brunswick (in the 1880s they were producing 80 million bricks a 

And confirmation that my "discovery" of changing fashions in bluestone design is nothing new at all: 
By the 1880s bluestone was considered "gloomy" and was out of fashion as new Victorian quarries opened, and imported stone appeared in quantity.
The caption noted that the lighted coloured limestone and sandstone were used in combination "for visual effect in new buildings of grand scale", like Parliament House, for example (see future blog post).

But here is something I had no idea about:
A ledge of basalt rock across the Yarra's bed prevented salt water flowing up the river flowing up the river past that point. This ensure a supply of fresh water and it determined the site for the settlement.
Fabulous!  the basalt flow that gave us the bluestone gave us the city itself. But also a reminder that the flow of fresh water is even more crucial. 

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