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7. THE CHRISTMAS HILLS SELECTION

Built at the junction of Five Mile Creek and Watsons Creek, it was sheltered by a steep hill acting almost as a wall on the northwest side of the creek junction.  Here the water was shallow and still in the summer and deep and fast running in the winter after the autumn rains. 

The house was crudely constructed from the surrounding stringy bark gums and lined with wattle bark.  It stood right on the creek bank adjoining a narrow pool of water sourced by the junction of the two creeks.  Nearby Joseph built sheep yards on the creek flat and a barn to store fodder and provisions.

The land was mostly hill and scrub, interspersed with densely forested ridges of iron bark, and was part of a large tract of land known by the Aborigines as Nillumbik or bad lands.  It was light country with shallow, stony soil and from the Aboriginal perspective, was poor hunting ground.

For Joseph, Ruth and David and their colonial friends, it was land in which to rejoice.  Their office was the open valley, and their desk was a cross-cut saw.   These settlers would toil on the land from daylight to darkness.  They would clear the land and drag the fallen trees with teams of bullocks into heaps for burning.  Along Watsons Creek and Five Mile Creek, Joseph and Ruth would toil with the sun on their backs and the smell of gum in their nostrils.  It was light country, but it would suit their sheep.   Water was plentiful and under the canopy of the varied eucalypts, a wide array of possums, koalas and kangaroos ensured an unending supply of tanned skins for rugs and clothing.  Because his land was unfenced Joseph had engaged an emancipated convict David Christmas to act as shepherd over his growing flock.

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