Postponed from early Dec 2017 because of dire weather forecasts, this field trip basked in warm sunshine and cool breezes as we stepped back to 1850’s Kyneton.
Our highlight was Jim Kilsby’s Tanderrum (Aboriginal for welcome to country) farm where Susan Walter (Malmsbury Historic Society) and Andrew Kilsby related the rich history of the land and showed us around the property with its old River Redgums, sheep, olive trees and historic dry stone walls and wells.
The farm was also the site for two very successful dry stone walling courses – introductory and advanced – with Emma Knowles. Some fine walling was taking place with happy, if exhausted, trainees. The plan is for Tanderrum to be a centre for walling training.
After the Saturday morning tour of the splendid bluestone Kyneton Museum (once the Bank of NSW) and its collection of outbuildings, horse-drawn carts, make-do tools and farming equipment, we were reminded of how tough life would have been back then.
However Kyneton quickly transformed by the mid 1800s from a small settlement of slab huts and tents to the gateway for goldfields in Bendigo and Castlemaine and great wealth flowed into grand stone buildings for the churches, successful squatters and businesses. Architectural historian, Allan Willingham guided us around the churches and their stonework at the top of the hill.
Rock House, built by Edward Argyle in 1853 is listed the Victorian Heritage Register. Colonial Georgian in style and important for its bluestone masonry and size but the verandah was substantially altered over time. Argyle owned land on both sides of the Campaspe but was for many years an alcoholic and died leaving his poor wife penniless.
We ended our very full day with cool drinks in the grounds of the unusual Rubble Stone house built in 1982 high on the banks of the Campaspe River on land once part of the Argyle estate.