Resurfacing the Gravel Paths at Vaucluse House
The number of times I have moved the gravel from the lower parts of the garden back onto the paths to repair wash-outs is unbelievable; it becomes a tedious constant during the extended wet periods. Throughout the Pleasure Garden, the years of washouts and high foot traffic has compounded the problem, and caused the top gravel surface to disappear, exposing the rough sandstone sub-base.
Our goal initially was to source more of the existing Vaucluse cream feature gravel to repair and replenish the path. We soon discovered that this was harder than expected as the pit at Lithgow where we had originally sourced the gravel from had closed. This meant the colour of gravel we desired was no longer available anywhere in Australia, and none of the colour/gravel combinations we tried seemed to come close either. This meant that we would have to start fresh with new gravel, of which we trialed a few varieties before making our final decision. The variety called Deco©-Gold was decided on by the curator and staff for its colour, drainage properties and the closest resemblance to our existing paths.
During November and December 2016 we worked hard on replacing the Pleasure Garden paths with this new surface, in manageable sections each time. The process was quite labour-intensive as we could not fully utilize machinery around the existing fragile brick drains/edging and narrow access.
The first stage of the work was to remove the existing upper layer of sand and gravel exposing the hard subsurface of either sandstone or clay and then replacing with the new gravel. Then the paths were re-laid with a slight camber to allow water to run off into the drains, then wet down and compacted with a plate compactor.
It’s been great being involved in the project - hopefully the finished product saves us many hours of path repair work in the future.
Come visit Vaucluse House and walk on the new paths for yourself - it’s a perfect time to see the garden with so much in flower!
The stockpile of granite ready for use on the paths.
The large stockpile of granite which we load onto the tractor with our Kanga Digger.
Loading wheel barrows from the tractor to take to the path
Most of the gravel has to be hand loaded into wheelbarrows and pushed to it's final location.