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Terra Wonder

Terra Wonder

Part of the CERES Fair Food newlsetter series, words by Chris Ennis.


Lately CERES has felt a bit like a ghost town.  But today people are emerging and are enjoying the autumn sunshine along with the chickens scratching for bugs.

In Honey Lane passing walkers stare up at the new tram-sized mechanical millipede that now dominates the hill.

Rearing up with steam punk robotic arms it feels like it could crash through the casuarinas and devour the old train carriage below.

I’ve come down with my eldest son to see how the new Terra Wonder playspace is going and also to have a sneaky play. 

Spinning an auger attached to the millipede’s antenna my boy disappears up through yawning jaws, runs the length of the body and slides out the mighty beast’s recycled tyre anus with an, “Oooooooh, that feels disgusting!”

This awesome insect vision has been conjured into life by artist, Steve Mushin, creative director, Nick Curmi, and a team of CERES builders and welders.

Work-shopped with a group of local kids the space is a learning in itself.

Set amongst a 500x magnified soil-food-web, Terra Wonder is a world where almost everything has been salvaged or recycled.

Resident industrial sculptor, Nick Curmi loves scrounging.  For months he’s been trawling scrap-yards around the state for old machinery to manifest Steve Mushin’s drawings.

The solid steel millipede head weighing a couple of tons was once a 150 year old steam-jacketed chocolate tempering pan from a Cadburys’ factory.

Its mechanical antennae are retired robot arms that built cars on an automotive production line.

The legs are made from massive ropes that were used to moor the Spirit of Tasmania.

Even the new macrocarpa body slats, sourced by CERES Fair Wood, are salvaged from old farm windbreaks destined for a bonfire.

During the week I get an email from Nick Curmi looking for a truck to pick up a huge excavator arm that will be used to create an arched entrance-way.

The arm is sitting in a scrap yard in Warrnambool that’s rumoured to be full of retired industrial machinery – a veritable scavenger’s El Dorado.

I imagine Curmi at his desk trembling like a prospector ridden with gold fever. 

The mechanical millipede will be the first of Terra Wonder’s elements to be completed.  

Still to come are giant fungal walkways, cocoon tree-houses, worm tunnels (made from enormous recycled steel pipes) and a rescued crane that nods to CERES’ quarry past.

Like so many of CERES’ projects before it Terra Wonder will be completed with a mixture of grants, passion and gifts from our community.

On our first weekend out of isolation it feels odd that we’re building a place designed to bring hundreds of children and parents together.

But Terra Wonder is an act of faith, a gift, for when we get through this and kids can come out and play together again.