What does Malemijo mean?

It’s all in the names

This website began as a way of documenting what our family (the Zolins) did in the 1970s and into the 1980s – ‘opting out of the rat-race’ and setting up Malemijo Experimental Farm. The exotic-sounding name is simply a mashup of the first names of all four of us; Mario, Lesley, Miriam and Joe. MaLeMiJo.

Say it like this: Ma-le-mi-yo

About the Zolins

Mario and Lesley Zolin made the move to Malemijo, near Swifts Creek in 1976. They had met and married in Melbourne in the sixties – both attended the University of Melbourne. Mario graduated as an electrical engineer; Lesley graduated with honours in the humanities and was qualified as a secondary teacher.

Mario and Lesley are no longer with us. Lesley passed away in September 1992 and Mario in April 1997.

Their children Miriam and Joe now live in regional Victoria and Melbourne, respectively.

Metalsmithing as an alternative income

By the time they left Melbourne with us kids in ’76, they had also developed alternative income streams as metal smiths. Dad made artistic, individually designed pieces of jewellery and chess sets. Mum was a pewtersmith, working in what is technically Britannia Metal (pewter without the lead that makes it toxic to eat and drink from!).

Educating the kids in isolation

When they left Melbourne to go bush they took my little brother Joe and me. Joe was 10 and I (Miriam, by the way) was 12. The story goes that they were both quite disappointed with what they could see of the education system and wrote a letter to the Department of Education that [paraphrased] said ‘We think the system is going to do more harm than good to our kids. We’re going to teach them ourselves. What are you going to do about it?’ There was, apparently, no response. I remember at 14 wishing for one. I’d realised at that point that school was as much about socialisation as it was about academic learning. We did get an education, however.  Now  I’m much older (born in 1964 so calculate away…) and I’m grateful for the education we received in isolation from the system. It brought great gifts in the way it taught us to think things through, extrapolate, imagine and solve problems.


We read hundreds of books, drew on Dad’s knowledge of farming from when he was a boy in Italy (he migrated to Australia at the age of 11). We learned from locals and used our common sense. The soil was crap, the weather was worse. I think we did quite well, considering. We learned how hard it is to feed a family from scratch.

Gone Bush

At some point Mario and Lesley decided to start publishing Gone Bush a collection of writing, tips, recipes and instructions for various technologies. I’m working on getting the journal and some of the ‘how to’ pamphlets available for others to read.