March 2015: Lanyon Homestead

Lanyon is an historic homestead and grazing property located on the southern outskirts of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. It’s a fascinating place both for its history as an early homestead and as a case study for the management of historical homesteads as museums. As with many homesteads that have been occupied for long periods of time, each new head of the household at Lanyon made decisions about how they kept their house. Furnishing changed, the functions of rooms changed, rooms were added or taken away. When curating such a homestead, what story do you want to tell? Do you take everything back to one decade? Do you keep it as you have found it? The curators have gone to excruciating lengths to acquire objects and furniture that would likely have been in such a homestead during the 1860s. Where historical records and people’s memories of the place have allowed, they have tried to recreate some rooms exactly as they were during set times. I found the outcome of the two strategies very interesting.One of the things I really delighted in was the interpretation in the sheds out by the cafe – accounts from some of the people who laboured on the homestead. You can read more about the fascinating history of the homestead and its conservation management plan from the ACT’s Museums and Galleries website.

March 2015: Tuggeranong Homestead

Weddings are a fantastic excuse for a weekend away, catch up with old friends and generally eat cake, be merry and celebrate. The cast for this particular trip were the ladies from last year’s June trip to the Victorian Goldfields. The next couple of posts will be sharing the photos from our various jaunts around the Australian Capital Territory. Katie of Katie Writes Stuff once again acted as group photographer and scribe and has provided an account here on her delightful blog.

Today’s post: A morning at Tuggeranong Homestead. And what a fine homestead it was. You can read more about it’s history and role in the region at the homestead’s website. Many thanks to the owner who gave us an impromptu tour even though the homestead was closed to the public that day. I can imagine people have had some very beautiful weddings there.

October 2014: An afternoon in Yass

Cobblestone Cottage, Yass. Source: Wikipedia, Mattingbh

One fine afternoon after a long drive from Balranald with nothing but myself, the God awful Amarok and an even more God awful (but fun) Matthew Reilly audiobook for company, I found myself wandering the streets of Yass like some kind of reprobate. And like all reprobates of calibre, I found myself in the local historical society’s museum. People, we need to stop a moment and appreciate tiny little leather boots and hand drawn cardboard cut outs of Yass’s historical street scape with photos. And Hamilton Hume’s telescope. And fossils! I had a great chat with the historical society member at the desk about the value of a historical streetscape and the threat of urban sprawl from Canberra before continuing down the street, ducking in and out of op shops. I stopped to admire a beautiful old cottage down near the park along Yass River and found myself chatting to its devoted owners. That beautiful cottage turned out to be one of the oldest buildings still standing. Cobblestone Cottage was built as a store and Post Office and an extension hosed the first Commercial Bank in Yass. The owners had poured a small fortune into its upkeep and its facade gleamed like the glossy and full coat of a living creature that was well loved. On cottage dwellers’ recommendations I continued my explorations with a walk along the river. Eventually the sun began to set and I wandered back to the motel and fell into an exhausted sleep. Learn some more about Yass here.

Pump house on the Murray River


Woodshed Brewery

The Wilkadene Woolshed Brewery. Micro brewery, refit of a historical woolshed, historical homestead and Ye olde cottages and paraphenalia, water recycling, cheese, river views, local produce. My inner inner westie /wanker from Williamsburg soul just shed (hah!) happy little tears. Ploughman’s lunch, ale and a bottle of wattleseed balsamic vinegar so I could reproduce Calpernum Station’s toffee.

The only thing that could make it better would be tiny vintage irons. Oh wait, there were tiny vintage irons.





Overland Corner

The Overland Corner is a nature reserve managed by the National Trust of South Australia and is situated on the Murray River at the Heron Bend Cliffs. The limestones that make up the cliffs are full of fossil oysters, lace corals, sea urchins, lamp shells, snails, cones and cowries. The layering of the cliffs indicate the presence of a warm shallow sea some 15 million years ago and then the retreat of that sea around 5 million years ago, leaving a river and creek system in its place. There are three short self guided walks which take you to quarries where you can see the changing geology and fossils, with bonus Aboriginal sites like canoe trees and an ochre quarry and 19th century hotels, police stations and cemeteries.

Source: The Geological History of Overland Corner, National Trust of South Australia.

June 2014 – Moorna Station

Moorna Station. Source: Wentworth Shire Council (

One of the stops on our tour of the Murray River was Moorna Station. The Moorna Homestead on the station was constructed in 1869 on the Murray River by William Crozer, near to the remains of Moorna town which was once the administrative centre of the Wentworth Shire and an important paddleboat wharf in the 1850s. Today it is a working property owned and managed by Annabel Walsh, a member of the Australian Rangeland Society, whose passion for land management has led to innovations in timed grazing, improving carbon content in soils and taken her to countries such as Mongolia to promote  healthy rangelands. To see more pictures of life on Moorna Station, visit the Land and to read more about the significance of the Moorna homestead and the history Wentworth Shire, visit the Wentworth Shire Council.

May 2014: Joadja – the ruins of a historical kerosene shale mine and company town

Source: Joadja Creek Heritage Tours –

One fine weekend in May, the family and I drove to Joadja, a historical old shale mine about 25km south of Mittagong in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. The mine was operational between 1870 and 1911. Like many mines of the period, the company controlled the housing, goods and services utilised by its workers. There was a clear demarcation of the homes of the executives and those of the workers, with the executives having larger homes higher up the hill. Today you can still see many of the ruins of the old homes, schoolhouses, cemetery, the kerosene separation plant, the stacks. I particularly liked the waste pits which will make for fine tar pit fossils of Australian wildlife in the future. For those who are interested, here’s an overview of Joadja’s history and historical significance (

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Day 4 – Noumea

Ah Noumea. We sailed through the Dunbar passage at the splendid hour of 5.30am. Sunrise coloured the waves in a photogenic manner. Forty minutes later I arrived on deck. It was still reasonably photogenic.

After a stroll around town and lunch at a patisserie, we embarked on a tour with wine and cheese. Our tickets stated that it was not a wine tasting tour. After a brief drive through town we arrived at a restaurant and were provided with three cheeses and three glasses of different wine to consume (but not taste). The consumption of cheese and wine was undertaken with grace and fortitude and delight. One could say it was a tasty experience.

Okay, this isn’t working for me. You see, we embarked on a tour but I feel quite conflicted about recording it. Our tour guide had not moved beyond his 1960s education and provided an unremittingly negative view of the Indigenous population. On one hand, I don’t expect everyone to have the same world view (some people find all of Today Tonight’s advice applicable to their life’s experiences). Our guide demonstrated one world view that is held by an expat Australian in Noumea. That’s an education in itself. Even with anonymity, I don’t know that it’s right to publicly humiliate the guy by quoting verbatim what he said then picking at it for posterity. On the other hand I’m still angry, embarrassed and disappointed that the view presented by our guide is what a bus load of people took home with them. With my third, equally attractive and functional hand, I lodged a complaint and expect that P&O’s internal processes will address the issue in a reasonable manner – the crew on the ship is made up of a dozen different nationalities. I hope changes are made with limited suffering.

Some background reading on New Caledonia

But what about now, you say?

  • Here’s a polemic paper discussing emancipation and colonialism in New Caledonia
  • And if you still have time, why not read about the census in New Caledonia and the politics and implications for national identity that ensue.

Yanga Woolshed and Homestead

The next weekend after an eventful trip to Broken Hill was spent in a whirlwind trip to Swan Hill (the highlight of which was dropping a bottle of creaming soda and it then proceeding to spray frothy creaming soda all over me. The lid had broken and thus the onslaught could not be stopped) and a trip to the Yanga homestead and its woolshed.

Yanga Woolshed. The interpretation and presentation of local history was excellent.

Now try and imagine this photo with no water for my trip to Yanga homestead in 2009.