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Dirty Janes Canberra

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Published April 22nd 2022
A long time ago, a pair of courageous men, Hamilton Hume and William Hovell (or mad dogs and Englishmen) lead an expedition from Sydney to Victoria searching for grazing land for the new colony. They knew for the colony's survival, it needed to be self-reliant and sustainable. Embarking from Hume's Appin farm in early October they travelled south to Hume's farm in Yass. This is where known maps of the time stopped. After replenishing supplies, a well-deserved rest for both man and beast, the adventure really began. With their bushman skills, seafaring navigational experience and ingenuity, the expedition was able to re-use and re-purpose their knowledge and cargo to overcome any obstacles they encountered. For example, converting a bullock dray to a punt so they could cross rivers. Everything had a purpose and often with the right imagination, multiple purposes. The arduous journey ended at the shoreline of Victoria's south coast. A little off course from their predicted Western Port, instead of stopping at Corio Bay, Port Philip. Largely funded by Hume and Hovell themselves, it is still hailed as one of our most successful and important expeditions resulting in the founding of Melbourne.

William Hovell was originally credited for the expedition's success; however, Hume was later given more credit due to his greater knowledge of the Australian bush. Fortunately, the route taken had become known as the Hume Highway which is a far better name than the Hovell Road which portrays dilapidated huts and shanty towns. While they endured hardships and obstacles and navigational arguments, they could never have imagined their path would become the major highway between our two major cities.

A relaxing three-hour drive from Sydney, retracing the famous route along the M5 (Hume Highway), takes you past Hovells' farm in Narellan. The highway heads towards Hume's farm in Yass. Veering onto the Federal Highway leads you to the nation's capital – Canberra.

The Federal Highway hugs mystical Lake George, where the water is known to disappear overnight. Fences can one day pen in flocks of sheep and the next to be submerged in water. On the distant shore, wind turbines twirl creating energy for our power grid. The Capital Windfarm is part of the 6000-hectare Capital Renewable Energy Precinct

Operating since 2010, the 67 wind Suzion S88 wind turbines generate enough renewable energy to power 69,700 homes annually. A major argument against wind turbines is that they kill thousands of birds each year which is partly true. They do kill several birds; however, more birds are killed by feral cats, cars and glass buildings. In the US alone, close to 600 million birds die colliding into glass buildings alone. Energy sources evolve and when the source is depleted, human ingenuity finds a solution. Usually a solution with a more efficient outcome.

Canberra has always had a reputation of being a pompous boring place full of pompous old people in suits running in and out of parliament house and government buildings or a destination for school children to visit on school camps. The reality is, that there is a lot to see in the nation's capital. From the Australian Museum and National Art Gallery to cafes along with Lake Burley Griffin where boats cruise in the mid-day sun to discovering vintage stuff at Dirty Janes in Fyshwick.

Nestled behind Domayne, down the driveway is a world where all manner of things is repurposed, rejuvenated, relived and re-loved.

Entering Dirty Janes, a café on the right greets you with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, to the left a tea room owned by The Tea garden Company – who make their own teas with a large variety to sample and take home. While you ponder which tea to bring home, a walk into the main hall opens up like an Aladdin's Cave. With over 90 different store holders under the one roof, an eclectic mix of furniture, collectables, records and clothing can be found. Be it looking to furnish your own house or for a gift for a fiend, there is always something to catch in the corner of your eye. It should be noted that all the items have come from loving homes and being one offs are sold "as found." As you walk around, you smile and realise that the items sourced are predominately from local suppliers and the locals are not as pompous and stuffy as you once imagined. It is recommended to walk around the aisles clockwise two or three times and then walk around anti clockwise two or three times as you are certain to miss some long sought-after treasure if you only look once. In the carpark The Barn houses Antiquus Botanica which caters for all manner of vintage garden pieces and plants for your yard or home.

In keeping with the principles of sustainability, the building is powered by solar panels, rainwater is collected for the vegetable garden and two goats, Bourkey and Will, maintain the chicken yard. The name "Kids in the Kitchen" was rejected as the name for the yard. The goats don't see the chickens as a hen-derance to their daily routine and the chickens are content to lay a daily supply of eggs for the café.

The vegetable patch is maintained by volunteers and the produce is donated to local charities. A worm farm helps in composting and creating fertilizer and local bees produce honey in the nearby hives.

Just as Hume and Hovell all those years ago knew the importance of self-sufficiency, Dirty Janes in Fyshwick also shows what can be achieved by repurposing products and looking at ways to be sustainable.

Dirty Janes Canberra is found at 80 Collie St, Fyshwick ACT.

Phone 0411 827 488

It is open 7 days 10am to 5pm

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Where: 80 Collie St, Fyshwick ACT 2609
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by Heidi Cee on 03/06/2020
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