Mt. Toole-be-wong is the lyrical name of our 245 hectares, which is 700 metres above sea level and has a rainfall of 1075 millimetres a year. The climate is temperate with occasional snow in winter.
On top of the mountain is 40 hectares of undulating grassed pasture. Most land is cleared in this area, except for some clumps of trees, one of which surrounds a natural clear spring which supplies the property with year-round water. The spring flows down a gully into a small dam surrounded by trees. Walking the winding driveway leads to about half a hectare of English garden surrounding the Lodge.
The property is an original Crown land subdivision of 1901. The original guest house was burnt down in 1939. Now all that remains is the mound onto which the ladies used to alight from their Cobb & Co coaches, to save their long skirts. The present house, built after the war, is of clinker bricks, has 13 rooms, and is well-suited on the basis of an education centre. Views are to Melbourne on one side and down the Warburton Valley on the other.
Past the house and down the overgrown track is more bush, amongst which are patches of cleared land which were used for growing potatoes. The bush, about 150 hectares, is rapidly re-establishing itself after the bushfires of the past. Some of the cleared patches we plan to re-afforest. Others are our cluster sites.
On the top of the mountain the soil is brown and fertile. The side of the mountain is largely bush, and at the bottom, semi-cleared, is 20 hectares of flatter land with several springs. The property was left to itself in the years before we bought it.
Because of our location, transport is a particular problem. It takes at least one and a half hours to reach the city. We intend to create car pools, reducing the number of cars, the environmental impact and saving resources. It may well be profitable to purchase a small bus. Healesville railway station is about 15 minutes drive away, while Lilydale is about half an hour's drive. The train from Lilydale takes 54 minutes to reach Melbourne.