-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ebay win: roof finial

There's not many of these that get listed these days, so we were really happy to get this. I don't know where we'll use it precisely but given we have such a steep roof, I'm sure there'll be places where it would be a great finishing touch.

roof finial

From the description:
A second-hand roof top ridge blockend angled double scrolled finial. The width for the ridge is 320mm by 510mm in height. In excellent condition.

Age article: "Mining the Good Old Days"

The Age is the biggest quality newspaper in Victoria, and I just discovered it had a feature article about Talbot last weekend... starting with a mention of Amherst!

You can see the original article here, but for posterity's sake I've also pasted it below.

Mining the good old days

Sandy Guy finds a former virtual ghost town that has rebuilt its history into a trove of colonial treasures.

It has been decades since prospectors toiled in the gold mines around Amherst. Like many Victorian ghost towns, Amherst's story is of a town that sprang to life with the arrival of gold-hungry prospectors, then all but disappeared when the gold ran out.

Amherst, along with the nearby town Talbot, was a hive of activity during its glory days in the 1850s when the population is said to have peaked at around 30,000. But while most of Amherst's buildings - which once included seven general stores, an inn and a hospital - have been destroyed by bushfires over the years, you can still see relics of one of Victoria's busiest goldfields five kilometres away at the wonderfully preserved town of Talbot.

The Ballarat-Maryborough Road runs along the fringes of Talbot, and it can be easy to whiz past without a second glance. But turn into town and you'll be greeted with a streetscape of colonial buildings left largely untouched during the decades Talbot slumbered as a virtual ghost town itself.

A chaos of diggers, dozens of stores and businesses and, it's said, around 100 pubs and sly grog shanties in the 1850s and '60s, today Talbot is a sleepy hamlet with a population of about 300. But its old streets come to life on the third Sunday of each month when more than 2000 people hit town for the Talbot Farmers' Market, regarded as one of Victoria's finest.

Market days see Scandinavian Crescent, Talbot's usually quiet main street, busy with stalls selling a fantastic range of local produce including organic fruit and vegetables, almonds, fresh quail eggs, wood-fired sourdough breads, free-range eggs, fresh pasta, tea blends, honey, dried fruits, goat and cow cheeses, balsamic vinegars, olive oils, fresh-baked pies and cakes, and native drought-tolerant plants.

While the festival-like atmosphere of market day is a great reason to visit Talbot, quieter days when the pace is unhurried and there are no queues at cafes such as the Big Fig and Quince Farm Cafe at historic London House are also good times to visit this unspoiled gold-rush town.

A stroll around Talbot reveals all sorts of colonial treasures, such as Victoria's oldest functioning post office; the Talbot Museum (open Sundays), which is housed in the former Primitive Methodist Church; public library; town hall; classic old banks; historic former court house, and the Court House Hotel, built in 1859, where the beer is cold and the traditional pub fare a bargain with Sunday roasts at $9.50 and bar meals around $5.

Slightly Bent Books in the middle of town is one of those warm and welcoming book shops that feature comfy sofas, a perfect excuse to relax and flick through some old and new tomes. You can unearth vintage clothes at Fanny's Flat, a quirky dress and accessories shop, and the Talbot Astronomical Observatory (open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7pm during the winter months) makes for a fascinating journey into the night skies.

Stay among the history at accommodation options including Chesterfield House B&B, formerly the circa-1866 Bull and Mouth Hotel, which has five cottages and a swimming pool set in pretty gardens, and the added bonus that it's pet-friendly. St Andrews, the old Presbyterian house of worship, has been transformed into luxury self-contained accommodation featuring Chinese furnishings and artworks and a spa in the former vestry, while Saddler's Cottage, a cosy self-contained house near the centre of town, dates from 1862.

There are some fascinating sites to explore around Talbot, including ancient Aboriginal drinking wells and, just off the Maryborough Road, a shelter tree - a large hollowed-out gum said to be about 700 years old where women of the Jajowurrong clan gave birth. You can trace the once-thriving town of Amherst on a walking tour, view the site of a Chinese joss house and baths, and drive along silent gravel roads to the Big Reef - also known as Quartz Mountain - a colossal outcrop of pure quartz hidden in the bush three kilometres from Amherst.

The 1675-hectare Paddy's Ranges State Park, which dominates the area around Talbot, is not only home to more than 140 species of native birds and around 230 species of wildflowers, but a good site to view relics of gold-mining days.

There's evidence of gold mining everywhere throughout the ranges and surrounding areas in mullock heaps, sites of puddling machines, and creeks scarred from sluicing. Today the central goldfields region is regarded as one of Australia's premier gold-detecting regions, and gold continues to be unearthed throughout the region.


Talbot is 159 kilometres north-west of Melbourne midway between Maryborough and Clunes.

Upcoming farmers' markets will be on July 20, August 17 and September 21 from 9am to 2pm.

For further information see www.talbottourism.org.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/06/19/1213770829592.html

what it's like in Talbot today (from UDF report)

Here's some more extracts about the situation of Talbot today, from the recent Urban Design Framework report.

There are lots of good things about Talbot, including:

-- There is a diverse range of facilities for a rural community of this size, such as:
  • The Talbot Primary School (former Prince Alfred Primary School)
  • The Post Office and associated services
  • The Crescent Community Centre and other various community resources including internet on-line facilities
  • The Community Library within the former Court House building.
  • Childcare centre - the Back Creek Kindergarten.
  • The swimming pool and play area opposite Pioneer Park.
  • The tennis courts
  • The bowling club
  • The recreation ground and indoor stadium
  • Country Fire Authority
  • St Michael’s Anglican Church
-- A tourist focus is developing, generating further income to the township. Currently, special attractions and activities which bring people to the township include:
-- There are an increasing number of people locating to the area in retirement.

-- There are many vacant sites including corner sites within the residential area. These factors provide a sense of spaciousness and allow longer-range views.

-- Talbot has a significant number of heritage buildings and has one of the most significant intact row of public buildings in Victoria.

-- There is cultural and social diversity within the township. This is represented by a diverse blend of hard working and enthusiastic residents who are generally prepared to put
personal effort back into their community, this contributes to the high level of community spirit and moral in the township.


BUT there are problems (which the report recommends addressing):

-- There are limited facilities in town (eg: no 24 hr ATM, no petrol station) and so residents are forced to do most of their shopping elsewhere.

-- Some of the vacant allotments are too small to accommodate today’s residential lifestyle expectations, unless they are consolidated.

-- A number of residential properties have significant amounts of stored building materials, derelict machinery etc. and these collectively detract from the visual amenity of the township.

-- Key services of sewerage reticulation and natural gas are absent.

-- There is limited public transport available. The passenger train no longer stops at Talbot and the existing bus service available is limited.

-- Lack of readily available built form guidelines to guide new development

History of Talbot (from UDF report)

Talbot's Urban Design Framework report is at last published. You can download the full report here.

Here's an extract about the history and geology of Talbot:

Talbot is 159 kilometres north west of Melbourne and 14 kilometres south of Maryborough.

Talbot lies in an interesting area where combination of volcanic basalt and igneous quartz reefs. The alluvial gold as dust and small nuggets was washed from higher hills as they eroded and found its way to lower areas such as Back Creek.

The Quartz reef gold of Dunach and Scandinavian Crescent is in contrast to igneous reef of molten lava that forced its way through dykes or channels towards the earth’ssurface. More recent basalt volcanic action in parts covered and blocked these reefs and a notable example is the Scandinavian Lead which where extreme basalt lava flows.

Old Talbot township was located on the flat on Back Creek west of the highway and alluvial gold was found here to Amherst some five kilometres from Talbot.

It was only when the Hallen party, a group of men from Norway and Sweden decided to dig an exploratory shaft near the intersection of Ballarat and Crespigny Street in 1859 they discovered a deposit of alluvial gold trapped against an impenetrable basalt rock base. The Hallen party and other miners followed this basalt, which was a run lead to become known as the Scandinavian Lead and headed for the present site of Scandinavian Crescent. The Lead was so extensive it was an open cut mine described by the Edition of the Talbot Leader in January 1862 as a open cut of 15 metres deep, 45 metres wide and 650 metres long.

From tents to wattle and daub buildings were the first temporary buildings with more substantial blue-stone and brick construction by the 1870-1890’s. When the open cut was filled in much of the ground on which the core precinct sites had been rendered unstable. Many of the buildings facing Scandinavian Crescent were hotels and these had cellars as cool storage for food and beer. Today a number of properties require water to be pumped out of their basements following heavy rain.

pictorial illustration of Talbot buildings

For decades Talbot was virtually a ghost town, however since 2000 it has rejuvenated itself largely through community action and support by the Central Goldfields Shire Council. By the mid 1860’s the population had dwindled from 15,000 to 3,000. As the miners left a number of industries commenced such as candle factory, flour mill, a picture theatre and gas works provided employment. Cohn Brothers soft drink factory, later relocated to Bendigo was founded in 1861.

The court house 1866 and Court House Hotel 1860, the former Union Hotel and opposite the two storey Town Hall is the Bull and Mouth Hotel now Chesterfield House Bed and Breakfast establishment.

Talbot’s Post Office is the oldest functioning post office in Victoria.

St Michael’s Anglican Church was designed by William Wardell the architect of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. An unusual feature of the church are the servants pews which still remain.

The former Primative Methodist Church (1870) is now the local history museum and it houses gold mining memorabilia.

Just to the north of town there are some aboriginal drinking wells and a hollowed out red Gum birthing or shelter tree were Aboriginal women gave birth to their children.

Talbot "Urban Design Framework" is published

The long-awaited Urban Design Framework for Talbot, our nearest town, has been published. You can download the full report from the Central Goldfields site here.

I've been keen to see this report not only because I was curious about future plans, but also because I knew it would include a nice summary of the area's history. The report is quite long so for posterity's sake as well as to make it easier to refer to, I'll pull out some highlights from it in the next couple of posts.

First, just to give you the overview of the area, here's the overall regional map from the report:

regional map

Here's the more detailed map for the town of Talbot. Amherst is not on it, but it's out of town in the direction of the Quartz Reef (click map to make it bigger).

detailed talbot map

idea for a shower

I found this on Ebay. It's too expensive (and too far away) to bid on, but wanted to make a note of it as perhaps we can build our own. It'd make a great outdoor shower, as well as a way to make sure you didn't use too much water.

shower1 closeup of shower top closeup of shower base

It's an old (1810) portable watersaver shower. You apparently pumped water up to the top using something like an old tyre pump. Then you had your shower and the water collected in the bottom where you could pump it back up again.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Age article: "Watch this Place"

I've just discovered this newspaper article from 18 months ago. I can't believe it took me this long to stumble over! It's a feature article on Talbot from The Age from back in January 2007.

Here's the link to the original article, but I've copied it in full because it's actually no longer accessible to view online unless you pay a hefty fee. *sigh*

Watch this place
Published in The Age, 23rd January 2007

An astronomer, merchant banker, and IT engineer are among a band of skilled newcomers who have joined dedicated long-time residents to put Talbot, aka Back Creek, back on the map, writes Genevieve Barlow.

WALK down the main street of Talbot any week day and you might not see a soul.

Not so long ago a visitor might have thought the heart of this tiny once-upon-a-time mining town in the guts of hard old gold country, 60 kilometres north of Ballarat, had stopped beating.

Few visitors turned off the main road from Maryborough that bypasses Talbot.

Weekender Daniel McDonald recalls that Talbot was "a pretty horrible place" when he ventured there five years ago. "It was rundown. The pub sold just two types of beer, heavy or light, and then it closed down."

Now, come farmers' market day - the third Sunday of the month - vacant parking spots in town are as rare as gold nuggets. The pub has reopened, there's a cafe, a restaurant, three bed and breakfasts, a bookshop and, soon, more shops.

And on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, locals - including a fascinating coterie of business people, artists, tradies, farmers and others - sit under the veranda of the community-owned and leased Quince Farm Cafe in Scandinavian Crescent (the main drag) making out like they won the lottery or something. Which, if you're into quiet living in a town filled with human curios, old buildings and character-plus, they have.

Here in the place formerly known as Back Creek, proclaimed amid a rush of gold seekers as Talbot in 1862 and which then faded with time, a most peculiar and enchanting series of things has happened.

It's had a heart-starter.

Since the monthly farmers' markets began almost three years ago, annual visitor numbers are up to 40,000 - about 2500 who come to every market and the curious who visit at other times. This is according to local municipal councillor Chris Meddows-Taylor, 54, a former BHP Billiton executive and change management specialist who moved there from Melbourne five years ago.

There is plenty to be curious about. Like what brings a major overseas oil exploration project manager to the picked-over plains on the edge of a Box-Ironbark forest to live. Or a restoration expert from Sydney's Balmain? Or a bookshop owner from Williamstown? Or a former merchant banker? An astronomer? A fine arts graduate with a passion for buttons? An IT engineer? An author who was the press secretary for former Federal Treasurer Jim Cairns? Or an artist who once managed St Kilda's RSL Club?

Former Sydney real estate manager Rosy Hardress, 39, is unequivocal about the attraction - inexpensive historic housing and peaceful sleeping.

She and her builder husband, Stewart, 46, discovered a miner's cottage in bad repair in Talbot in a national real estate magazine.

In 2004, after five years of planning, they quit their rented house at Sydney's Avalon Beach and came to Talbot without knowing a soul,

"The price (of the cottage) was so low we couldn't believe such a property existed," she says.

On their first visit to Talbot, the Hardresses were "dumbstruck by the streetscape, the shabbiness and the town's potential". But the peace and quiet won them.

"It was so peaceful here," Rosy says. "We could come and sleep and there wasn't a sound."

Port Melbourne's Daniel McDonald, 34, an IT engineer who manages Ericsson's broadband and mobile data services in the Asia-Pacific paid $15,000 in 2000 for an old stone house on a forest block near Talbot where he could hang out with his daughter and friends at weekends. In 2005, he sold it for $112,000 but, far from quitting the area, he bought an 1860s miner's cottage, which he is turning into a bed and breakfast. Late last year he and his partner, Ohnmar Myint, bought the handsome old former Bank of Australasia and the neighbouring former Phoenix Hotel, both single-storey 1860s buildings. They plan to build three shops at the front, a function room and a boutique five-star hotel.

Daniel's IT skills have already been tapped to create websites for local businesses.

"In five years I've seen such a radical change in that town. It's just buzzing. It's going gangbusters," says Daniel from his Melbourne office.

Well, not quite says Meddows-Taylor, who points out that Central Goldfields Shire, of which Talbot is part, has one of Victoria's highest rates of unemployment and lowest disposable household incomes.

Ken Smith, 58, who was raised in a sawtooth weatherboard house on the edge of town that sits forlorn and dilapidated, left for work elsewhere 26 years ago.

Work was never easy to come by in Talbot, he says. He returned recently, drawn in by his long-time attachment.

While Talbot's tree-change transition is fascinating, what's curious is how a band of otherwise disconnected but skilled newcomers, returned and long-time residents have been drawn into more than investing in houses to make dollars.

While it's true that median house prices jumped from $53,000 in 1990 to $115,000 in 2005 not everyone is there for the property returns.

Many, such as Allan Denham, who is back from managing the development of a major new oil project in Peru, don't need a property boom in Talbot to make their fortune.

Alan and his wife, Anne, arrived 10 years ago.

"It was a dying town," says Alan who began a two-page flyer called Talbot Today and Tomorrow "to get the facts out and stem the gossip", he says. Today that newsletter is 16 pages. He's working to get the town sewered and connected to the natural gas pipeline that passes just beyond its boundaries.

"And while we've got the trenches open to lay the gas pipes we could put the power lines there, too," he says. An historic town without overhead power lines would be a hit with filmmakers, he believes.

"What people like Alan have done is brought their skills and that's helped enormously to rejuvenate the town," says Meddows-Taylor.

Former merchant banker Norm Jones who, in 1999, returned to the land his grandfather owned at Amherst 4 kilometres out of town, where he grows grapes for wine, was on the committee that started the farmers' market.

"Don't tell anybody this," he says, "but for the first market they gave me $500 to go to the wholesale food market to buy a whole lot of fruit and vegies because we were so worried we wouldn't have enough at our farmers' market. We only did it once."

Now one of Australia's most successful farmers' markets, it features more than 70 stalls and people queue for stall permits. Tiffany Titshall, a fine arts graduate and printmaker who left St Kilda to settle at nearby Majorca, furiously promotes the market.

"In the beginning there was a grant to get it started," she says.

"We had to pick a date. We couldn't find any producers but we knew we had to do it anyway. So we just kept looking.

"We did the logo, the branding stuff. When none of the other farmers' markets were doing it, we were telling stories about the stallholders, describing the market and doing more e-marketing. We made it pretty and promoted the fact that it was good food and good for the town."

Tiffany and her partner Cal followed her mother Fran to Talbot. Although they live at Majorca, Tiffany has recently opened a vintage clothes and accessories shop called Fanny's Flat in Talbot. "There aren't a lot of overheads. It's a bit of a hobby and I know the town needs more shops," she says.

Norm Jones' son also invested locally, converting the former Presbyterian Church, a gothic 1864 landmark, into luxury accommodation. It's fitted out almost entirely with furniture from Shanghai, where Norm's son works.

Talbot's renewal started with a five-year plan in the late 1990s. Talbot Action Inc was formed to bring many of the town's organisations under an umbrella. It provided liability cover for small, unincorporated organisations and became a uniting force.

Since then, the town has scored at least $1.12 million in grants from federal, state and local governments to restore buildings, streetscapes, resurface the tennis courts and to establish a communications museum.

As with most small towns trying to renew themselves, the locals have contributed enormously. Some, such as Michael and Lyndelle Recchia, draw on their outside resources. Michael and Lyndelle run a painting and construction finishing company, operating in Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand. They've been in Talbot part-time for three years, and donated the paint for the overhaul of the town hall.

They have two sons, aged 10 and 13. They also own three hectares in the town's heart where Michael wants to build an art gallery.

"We have made a lot of good friends here," he says. "We did live for the past two years in Talbot but I am so busy that is just got too much to travel so we're back at Middle Park."

Talbot's big achievements have been its farmers' market, the rebuilding of a community centre and the community-owned Quince Farm Cafe, which is leased to a local couple who employ locals.

And a new three-year renewal plan and jobs are on the agenda.

"We've got enough accommodation, now we need shops and services to make it a seven-day a week town," says Meddows-Taylor.

"No one should think this is all beer and skittles," he says.

"We struggle on a whole lot of fronts as other small towns do because we lack infrastructure because councils can't provide it. The only way we can do this is through volunteer work. Volunteers get burnt out - a lot of towns resonate with this problem - so what we're doing now is setting up community-owned assets, like the cafe, that generate income. These assets will be owned by the community but run on business lines."

The goals and dreams are big, but the locals are smart and they've got lots of skills.

Talbot is a place to watch.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wow. Talbot & Amherst are in Wikipedia

I can't believe how much progress has happened in just the past few years. When I first researched Talbot, back in 2004 when we bought our property, it was hard to unearth information.

But now, it has a really indepth history article in Wikipedia. Whoever contributed this *thank you thank you*.

For posterity's sake below is a copy (as you can never trust that what gets put in Wikipedia actually stays there) but for the most complete/latest it's worth looking at Wikipedia itself.

From Wikipedia article:

In September 1836, Major Thomas Livingstone Mitchell and his party reached the Talbot district and passed in the vicinity of Mt. Greenock. Upon his return to Sydney he gave impressive reports as to the suitability of the land for sheep grazing.

The settlement commenced when Alexander McCallum arrived in the area in June 1841. A grazing lease for Dunach Forest, an area of 63,640 acres (257.5 km²) was granted to him on April 1, 1848.

For the next decade the area was not greatly changed by the efforts of the settlers who lived and raised their flocks in the solitude of the bush.

But with the discovery of gold, the pleasant pastoral scene changed as the gold seekers from various parts of the world invaded the country-side looking for the precious metal.

The first unofficial record of a discovery of gold in the area was at Daisy Hill on Hall and McNeill’s ‘Glen Mona Run’. The discovery was made by a shepherd, Thomas Chapman. This discovery was not reported for fear of prosecution for gold digging.

The first official discovery in the area around Talbot was made by two South Australians and their families at Daisy Hill Creek (later Amherst) in 1852. One of the men was Cowley, the other was John Potter. Potter claimed they unearthed a nugget while trying to free a bogged wagon. The rush to Daisy Hill followed his discovery.

Amherst was first called by that name in official letters in May 1853. The population in those early years drifted up and down according to the reports from other areas. The miners started to test the ground around Back Creek and soon discoveries were made.

During 1854 the only mining at Back Creek was on the creek about 2 and half miles from Amherst. Later in 1854 there was a big rush to Amherst and Back Creek. The rich ground of Ballarat Hill, Nuggetty Gully and Kangaroo Flat (Carallulup) were opened up. At the beginning of 1855 there were about 2500 diggers and store owners at Back Creek as well as 300 women and children. There was a certain amount of crime on the gold fields. Horse stealing, burglaries and violence were common.

Goodwoman’s Hill rush began in March 1855 behind Dale Goodwoman’s Hotel. This influential rush at Back Creek saw nuggets of 60 oz, 40 oz and 38 oz (1.86, 1.25 and 1.18 kg) unearthed. This led to discoveries at Bakery Hill and Church Hill.

In May 1855 the Chinese arrived and setup camps in Long Gully and Nuggetty Gully. New rushes took place at Daisy Hill Flat (Three Mile), Mount Greenock, Mia Mia and White Hills. Enormous finds were made during this period. Nuggets 160 oz to 267 oz (5.0 to 8.3 kg) were found and holes yielding 250 ounces (7.8 kg) and a pound (370 g) of gold load have been recorded.

From 1855 until 1859 the population varied according to the finds in the locality. A water scheme built by Stewart and Farnsworth on Stoney Creek provided water for sluicing at Back Creek. This is now the Talbot Water supply storage.

The next major development in the history of the area was the Scandinavian Rush in 1859. It was this rush that established the present township of Talbot. In July 1858 two deep leas joined up. One started in Nuggetty Gully while the other commenced on Ballarat Hill. Claims were taken up on Goodwoman’s Hill and now the leads moved north. The Scandinavian Rush was the continuation of workings at Goodwoman’s Hill. The prospectors of this rush were Carl Hallem, Adolph and Carl Olsen and Joseph Bell.

The Scandinavian Rush began in earnest in the early part of 1859 and the diggers found the areas “alive with gold”. Windlasses were going in all directions, tents erected in every available spot. The riches dug up were enormous. At this time, the main street was being formed at the Crescent.

By March 1859 there was an estimate of 15,000 people at the rush. The main street was called Scandinavian Crescent in March and hundreds of places of business were opened to cater for the needs of the diggers. Camp Street became the new road to Amherst.

Reports of large nuggets and great yields kept the miners in the area. The ‘Amherst and Back Creek Advertiser’ was started in March followed by the ‘North-West Chronicle’. Permanent buildings replaced temporary tents in Camp Street. A Post Office, several banks (such as the National, Bank of Australasia, London Bank of Australia, The Victoria) and a church were started.

During that fabulous month of March, there were six streets of stores. Oxford Street was a narrow row of stores. Other streets established were Bond Street, Russell Street, Ballarat Street and Chapman Street. The latter was then called Sturt Street. The area must have presented a bewildering scene to the casual observer. A theatre opened in Oxford Street towards the end of the month. At Robinson & Co. store a Post Office opened with a Mr. Andrews as the postmaster.

To break through the basalt cap over the gold saw the introduction of blasting. Some unlucky miners met their deaths in blasting accidents at this time. Such mishaps could not deter the miners from the wealth that was found from this field. This must have been one of the, if not the most, exciting births of any town in the country. Noise and confusion from large numbers of excited diggers, the clang of anvils, the rattle of windlasses and the explosions from blasting. The sights recorded by visiting correspondents—a cake of gold (200 ounces or 6 kg) in a gold broker’s window in the crescent and in another, 1,500 ounces (47 kg) of nuggets—seem like fairy tales. Such was the wealth of this area.

In November 1858 the first sitting of a newly proclaimed Amherst Borough Council took place. This council was formed to administer the district including the Back Creek area. From the period we can obtain information via the Municipal Rate records. Crown survey of allotments took place in 1861-62. From these sources a view of the number and type of business ventures can be ascertained. For example the Crescent could boast 23 restaurants, a variety of hotels and ale stores, tobacconists, 4 butchers, 5 boot shops or boot makers, 3 tent shops, 6 drapers, a number of druggists or chemist shops, milliners, saddlers, confectioners and billiard saloons. This list is just a cross section to show the variety of goods and services available to diggers.

The Scandinavian Rush subsided in 1860. It had created a town and provided a population: At this time the “Frontage System” regulations came into force. This was an arrangement where parties were guaranteed priority of place on a lead according to the date of their registration. During this period there were possible one hundred companies working in the area. Some of these companies were the Great Extended Conway Castle, Independent, Talbot Paddock Co., Prince Alfred and Morton Extended.

In 1862 the Sadowa Co. sank a shaft in the paddock owned by W.G. McCulloch. It got about 60,000 ounces of gold before it lost the lead. This lead has not been found. Companies on the Mount Greenock lead were the Union Co. (owned by Carl Schultz and Alolph Von Pein), the Hoffnung Co. (owned by Klein and Christensen), The Rip Van Winkle, Nichols Freehold Co., The Robert Nicholl and the Greenock Estate.

Talbot had made rapid strides in its development. In 1864 it had a Court House, borough offices, seven schools, a street of good shops, two breweries, churches, two soap and candle factories, sixteen hotels, coach services and general carriers, and a number of crushers. It also had a population of about 3,400. There were also cultivation blocks and dairy farms and a common pasturage which operated with the aid of a pound keeper. Talbot was officially named on 19 October 1861 by the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Barkly. The area continued to develop during the sixties and on 31 October 1865 the Shire of Talbot was proclaimed.

Many of the buildings still existing in the town were built during the 1860s and 1870s. During the late 1880s the mines began to close and the population slowly started to drift away. The return of soldiers from the First World War saw an acceleration of this drift. With no established industries left, the town today is only a shadow of the town born during those early days of 1860.

However, Talbot still has an interesting story to tell to any visitors. A resurgence of people and business attracted to the landscape and the towns rich history and architecture has seen the redevelopment of the town once again. New restaurants, a world class Farmers Market on the third Sunday of every month sees thousands of people descend upon the town every month.. New shops are opening and the town is alive again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Soil test results

Yes, they have finally arrived. Here's the key extracts:

soil test results summary

(Click to make it big enough to read).

Also, here's the background information leaflet.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

building a shelter

Dad has been spending free time working on a side project at Amherst: building a shelter using the roof trusses he salvaged.

I'm not sure quite what it will end up being like - eg: whether it will have any sides enclosed - but it's already starting to look nice, and huge!

building the barn - 2

Dad is planning to put the small caravan under it for protection, as well as setting up a woodheater for warmth. That'll be where Dave stays during the 2 weeks he's there in early August. Positioning a tank on one edge he'll be able to use the roof to collect water, which will then be used to rig up a rudimentary outdoor shower.

These photos give you an indication of not only what it will look like, but also how amazingly improvisational my Dad is. He's managed to build this entire thing with huge heavy trusses 10ft in the air single-handedly.

building the barn - 1

In Dad's words:

(via email 30th May):
I am pleased to have succeeded in getting the 8 stirrups into the concrete in the right places so the next fortnight weekend that I go up I can erect the pine poles atop these, and put the long beams in place. I will need to make braces for the pole walls which at either end support the trusses. Then I will need batten materials for the iron roof. I have some up there, and will use all my own stuff first, stuff which I took there long ago for the hobbithouse. I have enough scavenged western red cedar weatherboards to box in the two ends of the truss roof. And I have enough secondhand iron to complete the roof, I think.

(via email 22nd June):
I have plans to go up for another working day next weekend, and spent today loading tressles, planks, and extra pipes with more ladders. I could not proceed last weekend because of being too short of ladders to work safely at any height. I must totally anchor the first truss before I can move the towers to the next set of posts. I then erect the two posts and connect them temporarily to the first truss with battens. I then move to the third set of posts, and so on until all four trusses are erect on their posts and then connnect all with battens both beneath the ends of the trusses and above. I then put on braces and ensure all is square so when I put on the sheets it works well. I am lucky I have the extra truss that is hanging upside down as a stablizer and connector for the two posts so they can be held in a plumb status. I then put bolts through the connecting points and it will withstand high winds and be safe.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ebay win: fence spears

We just won a bulk lot of these. I've seen similar before but there hasn't been enough of them or else they were just too expensive / too much hassle to arrange delivery. These were only 20 minutes from my sister's and the seller kindly agreed to drop them off.

fence spears

From the description:
A bulk lot of 95 cast iron Victorian Pallisade fencing spearheads. 120mm long, 75mm wide, 21x17mm stub to suit 25mm RHS. New, never been used, although some are a bit rusty. Great for repairs or extensions to original or reproduction fencing

Not sure precisely how we'll use them yet, but one idea is on a fence to enclose parts of the garden near the house. It wouldn't keep out kangaroos, but they're unlikely to come close to the house anyway, but it would work for sheep.

The rough concept would be to get some old metal rods, like the kind they use in foundations (ie: cheap) which we'd then attach these spears too, spraypaint black, and voila a fancy-ish fencepost. If we spaced them eg: a spearpost every metre with wire in between, Dave reckons we'd be able to cover an area 20m x 20m square which is a reasonable size.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ebay win: stained glass doorway

We won this set of stained glass yesterday and collected it this morning, as luckily turned out to be only 15 minutes drive away.

There are 5 pieces:

The top centre panel that goes above the door (120cm x 47cm), 2 vertical ones that run either side of the door (210cm x 42cm), and 2 smaller ones that sit atop the vertical ones to join it to the centre panel (47cm x 42cm). All measurements include the frames which are in great condition.

stained glass for doorway1

It looks nicer in real life than in the pictures... much more of a bronze/gold colour than orange.

It was used on an internal doorway at the house we collected it from, a 1930's era semi-detached house, but is solid enough it could be used on an outside entrance too (assuming we're allowed to have single glazed).

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Keeping bees

Sometimes things just all fall into place.

We plan to keep bees at Amherst to help with pollinating the orchard as well as for honey and beeswax.

But neither of us know the first thing about bee-keeping.

I'd been expecting it would be a hassle to find somewhere local to learn and thus we'd be better starting over here in the UK despite the climate and bee strain differences. But it turns out that couldn't be further from the truth.

The Central Goldfields region of which we're smack bang in the middle is apparently a centre for the Honey Bee industry in Australia!!!! Who knew???

Because of this, the local TAFE has multiple courses all about bee keeping. The one that sounds perfect for us is a 7 week course, 1 evening per week plus 2 weekend day practical sessions.

So bees can wait. Thank goodness, 'cos I wasn't looking forward to attempting it here in urban London. :-)

so it'll be a grey roof then

The only slight concern that we had with the last set of plans from Eric was that there are now 2 solar panels prominently displayed on the roof.

I was a little worried they might be an eyesore, so asked what flexibility there was to move and/or disguise.

Here's Eric's response:

For solar panels to work properly in this situations a few few criteria need to be addressed:
- North facing, minimal shading
- Nearby, and below the hot water tank (which is also positioned to suit the wood cooker)
- The pipe from the tank to the panel needs to go down continuously with no dips or uphill section.

I think that this is a good position for the system to work. Another option is on the east verandah roof, but it will be shaded by early afternoon. It can even go at ground level, but there is always a chance that the panels will be broken. One option to hide the panels is to have a grey roof which I often do.

So, it'll be a grey roof then. :-)