I was lucky enough to build this short but LONG retaining wall in one of my favourite places in the Dandenong Ranges, Birdsland Environment Centre. Yarra Ranges council were great to deal with throughout this project (this was just the beginning). Stone work was for the creation of a new walk, Bunjil trail, leading from the back of the environment centre to a lookout platform. The retaining was placed at the beginning of the walk and would become part of a series of steps to improve access to the site.
First the slab went in. It was a hellishly hot day in January and the slab was tough going. Stepped slab over 15 metres long on a hilly site.
The brief from the council was for a rustic build. The stone is a local granite, pulled from another site in the area and salvaged for use here and further along the Bunjil trail for a culvert crossing. It is truly hard stone and made for slow going, fortunately the council wanted rough and that worked really well with the local hills granite.
Its hardness makes this stone particularly good for outdoor features as it weathers slowly and its rough surface takes on a great colour as it ages.
Carefully the wall comes together, with huge help from Holly. From the slab steps to the rebar inserted into the slab and the cross over bonds of the joints, the wall becomes stronger with each course.
Corners and ends are often the toughest part of wall building, then the caps. This is especially true when building with random stone, like here. Something to consider when asking for quotes, more corners will mean a higher price, it just takes time.
Random walling like this does allow for a wonderful play of flow with the shapes, like a heavy jigsaw puzzle. The wall was then finished off with a layer of drainage material behind and a length of slotted ag-pipe for drainage. Will have to go and get new pics with the timber steps in place.
Meg Surmon. Stone Devils stonemason.
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