Welcome to the Daylesford GPS Tour: ‘Every Destination has its Stories’.
You are now entering the land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people who lived gently on the lands bounded by the Loddon and Avoca Rivers and on towards the Bendigo area, for thousands of years. Also known as the Jaara people, they believed the souls of their ancestors lived in the birds and you may sense this, feel their presence, as you drive around the region and become aware the story of Daylesford starts with these first nation people.
(View here a clip I made about the Dja Dja Wurrung clan and their crew on country.)
The tour starts here at the old fire station, now they Visitor information Centre where you can gather lots of other information about things to do and see in the region
The building was completed in 1906 after relocating from Bridport Street which is now the site of the Daylesford kindergarten.
Bush fires have long been part of the region’s history, from the first recorded back on Black Thursday, Feb 6th 1851 when John Egan lost all his sheep; to the fires of February 2009 when fires circled the town heading towards Coomoora and Glenlyon.
Our first fire brigade was formed in 1861 when 29 volunteers put up their hands to help, supported by the local Police magistrate and Gold Commissioner.
In 1865 the Daylesford brigade moved from Bridport street, on the site of the present kindergarten, to Vincent street. The brick engine house was built in 1906. Recently the Fire Station has moved back to a new site in Bridport street.
This valley was a busy hub of miners during the Gold Rush and when you get to Leggat Street and the carpark you’ll see the imposing and grand old building originally known as Leggat’s Coach House Hotel. It was built in 1865 by Neill Leggat and his wife Jessie. After her husband’s death in 1880 she turned it into the family residence. She owned other properties and must have done all right for herself for she donated funds to Melbourne University and an annual Scholarship is still awarded in her name each year for students of public law. A series of owners has followed and one of the most colourful is Ray McKinnon, the current owner. He opened a wax museum in the basement of the building and cast the iron gnomes that sit atop the stairs heading to it and collected fantastic vintage cars that were stored in the sheds.
Denise Robinson Update
The Coach House is no longer owned by Ray McKinnon sadly (I occasionally miss
his gruff exchanges) it's been given a face lift as upmarket accommodation
and used as a setting for contestant competitions for The Block on channel
9 last year. Sadly the old gold assayers shed has disappeared too. The
same Leggatt family had the ballroom in Prahran post war.
The small tumbledown shack on the property is reputed to be the old gold assayers hut and at time of writing it is under the threat of a demolition notice. We’ll see what happens
The Chinese reworked the tailing’s of the diggers in this valley and then started to develop market gardens throughout.
Diagonally across from Leggat’s Hotel is a Chinese influenced barbeque area. It is a tribute to the Chinese and was built by young people in the involved in the LEAP scheme. It is reputed to be the site of the Joss House the Chinese built here. The old shanty town was apparently built of jumbled array of old timber scraps, iron sacks and flattened kerosene tins, leaning together like a stack of cards that might full down with the merest puff of wind. After the gold rush most of the Chinese left but some stayed gardening until the valley was flooded
The retaining wall was rebuilt several years ago but still there is a spectacular cascade of water down the cliff when the lake is overflowing.
Did you know that Daylesford was originally known as the township of Wombat? However many people didn’t like the name and in 1855 after lobbying, Governor Hotham changed it to Daylesford. William Standbridge had suggested the name, after a small hamlet in Gloucestershire England, that was famous as the home of Warren Hastings, the first viceroy to India. His home town they say had the little river Evenlode running through it, "Dagles-ford" in the said river was probably the origin of the name.
Back from the wall you’ll see the old toilet block and spectator steps for the swimming pool that once occupied this site, grass now grows in the children’s wadding area and a fence enclosed the adult pool. A swimming club was founded in 1930 and the lake Daylesford Classic still occurs once a year for the brave hearted.
But I think one of the highlights for me was when local resident and Australian playwrite Rebecca Lister staged a production, Calling All Angels down on the grassed area with characters arriving across the Lakes in Boats. It was a group of teenagers and volunteers and was quite spectacular. The Sun set, the cresecent moon came up and candles lined the stage.
I don’t know how she pulled it off.
Swimming in summer is divine but it’s not advised in winter, cold currents and old mine shafts mean these waters are pretty treacherous. Sadly there have been several deaths in the Lake.
Now back to the carpark and across to your left and you’ll see the Bookbarn. It’s worth a visit, a interesting range of books, great coffee and the best views of the lake from out on the deck. (Watch this space A.S)
Walk around the Lake for views of Lake House or drive passed on your way to Lake Jubilee.
For all the hotel’s grace and charm, there is a long arduous journey that saw it come to fruition.
But I need to take you back a little to the culture and heritage that influenced Alla and shaped the goals for her fine dining country restaurant.
Her parents, Anatolie and Katya Wolf left Russia with baby Alla in the 1950’s and after the many warn torn years took great delight and comfort in sharing food, wine, conversation and singing with other Russian immigrants to Melbourne. She remembers they acquired a “dacha’ or summerhouse in Daylesford during her teenage years, “it was set beautifully high on Wombat Hill with enchanting views over the valley and its lake. ... Australian outside with ...double-gabled miner’s cottage roof, requisite ‘thunder box’ and resident tiger snake out the back, inside it bore portraits of Pushkin and Chekov, family religious icon and reproductions of famous Russian Paintings.
She remembers that every weekend the Ruskies came bearing pickled herrings, smoked eels and marinated mushrooms. Her mum and dad were both wonderful cooks and entertainers and Alla believes that her passion for hospitality stemmed from these times.
People thought Alla either was a mad woman or a visionary for her idea to bring fine dining to country Victoria.
Her husband explains the first time they saw the block by the lake known to the locals as the swamp, ‘I was a trifle gobsmacked. A horse met us at the fence and tracked after us through the gorse, blackberry and sparse native grass, traversing around the seven redback infested car wrecks and the single but dying eucalypt to the edge of the steep slope that fell to the murky waters of the swamp below.
Within an hour the ex-mine site was ours … a piece of earth that had been turned completely inside out in the search for that precious metal …. gold.”
The hard work began, scraping and levelling the building site and planting out a garden on what Allan describes as “the most useless agricultural offering of all times”.
If you were to walk the gardens now with Alla, she would show you the plants that originated from her mother’s garden maybe you’d sit under the white birch trees they planted together when she was heavily pregnant with her daughter Larrisa. She would tell you of her Chekovian flights of fantasy for cherry orchards and her dream of creating a restaurant that had a strong sense of place.
Years of full time jobs, shared baby sitting, the chef, the cook, driver, bottle wash, preserver, baker, they did it all. Long hard hours have gone into this labour of love since it opened its doors in 1984
As Rita Erlich called it in an early review– “Enchanting Lake House.” It is that and more
Alla has succeeded in creating a sense of place and a visit to the Lakehouse always feels like a very special occasion. If you would like to learn more about Allan and Alla’s journey you could purchase their book “Lake House - A Culinary Journey in Country Australia” by Alla Wolf-Tasker
As you head out of town along Jubilee Lake Road you’ll come to the old tram line that used to service the sawmill at Specimen Hill, one of many mills that operated in the Wombat Forest to service the Gold Rush need for mining timbers. 1878 was the peak year for output from combined mills and over 60,000,000 super feet of sawn timber(18,288,000 metres) was produced. In 1887 a correspondent in the Ballarat Star noted that “the heavier timber has long gone through the saw”, and in 1899 a Royal Commission into the management of State Forests and Timber Reserves called it “the Ruined Forest.” If you drive far enough along the road you’ll see signs of timber cutting still taking place today.
But back to the road, a kilometre or so along Lake Jubilee Road you’ll come to O’Toole’s Honey Stall. It is a family business with Des and Debbie O’Toole at the helm and it has been operating since 1980.
They have their apiaries throughout the Central Highlands and have been known to produce eight different varieties of high quality honeys, including, Orange Blossom, Clover and Salvation Jane produced in spring. Summer sees Yellow Box, Red Box, Peppermint, Messmate and Red Gum honey’s and Autumn brings Stringy Bark, Grey Box and Ironbark while in winter there's Desert Banksia, Mallee, Ti Tree, Melaleuca and Manuka honeys.
The O’Tooles reckon that the bees of the Wombat Forest are spoilt for choice when it comes to blossoms.
Denise Robinson Update
The O'Tooles of honey fame are related to Australian championship axemen -
another branch of the same family working the forest
On we go, to Lake Jubilee.
It was built in 1857 to supply the town with water and was originally known as Daylesford Spring’s Reservoir. A few hundred metres upstream past a grand old stand of Elm trees is the spring that gave the reservoir its name. The retaining wall has washed away twice and in the early 1900’s the reservoir was renamed Jubilee Lake in honour of Queen Victoria’s recent Jubilee. It is now a favourite spot for campers and a place for swimming, canoeing and fishing. And if you’re so inclined, and have your laptop with you, there is even wireless internet.
Since I arrived in the town nearly twenty years ago the main street has undergone many changes. Businesses have come and gone, many have transformed and new shops have opened along Vincent Street, extended around the corner into Albert and Howe Street and on most weekends Daylesford is a busy hub of visitors. When you come to the first roundabout you’ll see the post office on your left dating back to 1867, across the road from that is Jimmy and Cath Triggers Antique store was established in 1973 and is worth a look. Diagonally across from Triggers, there is another Daylesford Institution, Frangos and Frangos. When I arrived in the town it was the Belvedere Hotel known to the local’s as the “Swinging Arms” for the tendency of patrons to settle any dispute with their fists. But now the Frangos family have opened an eclectic range of eateries, shops and spaces for hire.
A.S. Update, of course Travis is now operating Kouklas on the corner
I'm sure you know the Belvedere Hotel used to be the original Cobb and Co
Continuing on you, have the Daylesford Town Hall on your left, it was built in two stages, the front Muncipal offices were completed in 1884 and the hall behind finished in 1886. In a book commissioned to celebrate its centenary R.D Patterson writes “it represented the community focus of the town. In the twenties it pulsated to weekly jazz dancing.... in wartime soldiers were their farewell there, for some a welcome home, and for one out of three, a eulogy. It has been a ballroom for romance and court of disputes for the broken hearted. In an enterprising period, it was a venue for roller skating, and even the pugilists left their blood on the mat in boxing and wrestling tournaments.
Across the road the Spanish/deco style Rex Cinema was built in 1928 and was the first theatre in town “wired for talkies” and the first to show Mickey Mouse. It didn’t last for long and has had various other guises over the years including supermarket, two dollar shop and it’s latest incarnation as a shopping mall. At the time of writing about half the shops in the arcade have been filled but if you take a look you can see all the features of the old cinema.
A.S The Shire Offices along with the Cinema and Library will soon be operating from The Rex Buidling
Check here for more information about plans for the Rex
At the bottom roundabout you are going to do a right hand turn and then another hard right immediately after. You’ll notice the Sculptural piece in the middle of the grassed area it is called Going Home and was sculpted by the legendary and local sculptor Stanley Hammond
Now they're coming back from school, jig, jog, jig.
See them at the corner where the gums grow big;
Dobbin flicking off the flies and blinking at the sun -
Having three upon his back he thinks is splendid fun:
Robin at the bridle-rein, in the middle Kate,
Little Billy up behind, his legs out straight.Denise Robinson
Stanley Hammond's work - moulds, prototypes and sketches were gifted to the
Daylesford Museum as a total collection and I was gobsmacked to learn how
famous he was
If you look towards Wombat Hill you’ll see the Old Courthouse, head this way
Right and Right again at the roundabout. The Court House Heritage Victoria states that “the Daylesford Police Reserve, courthouse, police quarters and lock-up are collectively of historical, architectural and aesthetic significance.”
In its prime position at the end of the Ballarat road, perched half way up Wombat Hill, when it was built it 1862 it would have cast an imposing presence over the goldfields. If you wander inside you can see that the courthouse retains much of the original features. The Judges bench is there, the prisoner’s dock, witness box and juror’s box and upstairs the gallery. One can only wonder at the scenes that would have taken place here.
The former Daylesford police quarters and cell block are located uphill from the courthouse, the single-storey quarters are one of only two surviving examples of a combined office and single man’s quarters and in 1994 a Arts Victoria grant restored the quarters for use as further classroom space.
Past the police quarters was the Lock-up. It consisted of three cells and the graffiti that covers the inside walls of these cells pay testimony to a parade of characters that ‘did time.
Convenient then we are also in the ecclesiastical centre of the town, so that these ‘sinners’ could be prayed for.
On the other side of the road, ???? and further down on the corner is St Peter’s Catholic Chuch The foundation stone was laid on November 29th 1863 and the church was blessed and opened on May 14th 1865.
Central Springs road, that crosses at the Southern end of camp street road at the end we also have the Uniting Church and the Anglican Christ church and Stanbridge Hall.
Left to the Botanical Gardens, then watch for the left turn into the gardens and circle the gardens and turn into the carpark
Stop at the car park and take a stroll through the gardens. Check out the information board for the sight of the significant trees and other features. The Pioneer’s Memorial tower to the right of the boards was built in 1938 and a plaque marks the occasion, a climb to the top is a must for the view across the gardens and to the distant landscape of rolling Hills. During the war years it was aircraft observation tower and has also been used as a fire spotting station.
You can see the water storage basin, which surprisingly, is feed by gravity from the Bullarto reservoir, 10 kilometres to the east which is just 30 metres higher than the Wombat Hill.
There is a friends of Wombat Hills Botanic Gardens group and spokesperson Gael Shannon said they “are lobbying hard to establish a secure water supply for the gardens, to ensure their survival in the face of drought and climate change.
"We want these gardens to be thriving and enjoyed by many generations to come."
The group is preparing for their 150th anniversary in 2013.
Another development in the pipeline is that Alla Wolf Tasker from the Lakehouse, is coming to the Gardens. There are plans for a big redevelopment.
Denise Robinson Updates
The Friends of Wombat Hill Gardens, President is now Ray Robinson and there's a booklet that we have in theInfo Centre celebrating the 150 years of the gardens $5 story, plans andpictures, Wombat Hill House now in its 5th year or so. You might make
mention of the Friends Growing group with plants for sale on Thursdays - we
weeded this morning volunteering probably 30 hours between us and potted
over 200 plants - fabulous co-operating with the head gardener and Shire these days.
And of course the fabulous Kiosk is open A.S.
An overriding image that has inspired her over the years was the sight of her diminutive Greek mother at a gallery launch in Melbourne years before. She could see she felt overwhelmed and alien in the space and Tina was determined to create a place that everyone would feel welcome, but more than that a place to nurture the spirit. Experience it for yourself.
A little bit of history, it was built in the 1860’s and was originally the Gold Commissioner, J Daly’s residence. Then it was sold to Saint Peter’s Church as a presbytery and then the sisters of the Presentation Order bought it and it was school for many years. In the cellar there is a museum honouring these women and their students and up stairs Tina has left one cell as it would have been home to one of the nuns. Then it was given to the community and operated as a neighbourhood house before Tina outbid someone proposing a casino in the venue.
The line was completed in the 1880’s connecting Melbourne to Daylesford and then later onto Ballarat. In its heyday the station would have been a hub of activity. As well as transporting passengers, ( for example they say 50,000 travelled to Daylesford by train in 1884 ), goods were also shipped from the Daylesford station to Melbourne, in particular potatoes, firewood and of course the regions famous mineral water. With the line steadily deteriorating it was closed to traffic on the 3rd of July 1978. However a few years later a group of interested residents formed the Central Highlands Tourist railway and work was started to restore the track. Many years and hard work went into this restoration and now the Daylesford Spa Country Railway has opened for business with rides into the forest every Sunday morning and once a month the Silver Streak champagne train takes visitors into the forest. The 2009 bushfires damaged the end of the track and now rides only take you to the edge of the forest, that is until the dedicated team rebuild once again.
At the time of updating, Gary Thomas of Spade to Blade has enlisted his organic foodie, wine and artist mates and a new market has opened across the road from the Sunday Market. Great coffee and food on offer Sunday mornings
You’ll pass the fountain on your right, mermaids and mermen hold aloft a large dish. It is a memorial to Queen Victoria that was built in 1902 from funds raised in the local community. Sadly with water such a scarcity it doesn’t spout any longer.
Denise Robinson Update
Water back on at the fountain in Howe Street
Just at the roundabout on your right now is the War Memorial in Burke Square. It lists the names of the young men of the district who sacrificed their lives in the 1st and 2nd world wars. The obelisk was designed by John Erskine Grant, who was also an art teacher at Daylesford High School, he also contributed the Villiers-Bretonneux war memorial.
Onto the roundabout and turn right, you’re heading to Hepburn
Heading down to Hepburn you’ll start to see the strong influence of the Swiss Italians and Europeans to our Region. A journal from the time by Polish immigrant Seweryn Korzelinski said “the Jim Crow diggings were European to the exclusion of the English.”
As with many of the early settlers to the Hepburn area, the Lucini brothers came from Switzerland’s Ticino and Italy’s Lombardy regions leaving behind them hard times and political unrest when they arrived on the goldfields of the Hepburn shire.
What they also brought with them were their culinary and gardening skills, local historian Clare Gervasoni in her book Bullboar, Macaroni and Mineral Water states that ‘food became an important part of life on the Jim Crow Diggings” and that ‘stories of chestnuts, cheesemaking, Italian sausage making and wine abound with the history of our districts early settlers.” The Macaroni factory became a real focal point for the community
The brothers had a market for their pasta, in fact in 1881 Lucini was awarded a prize for his macaroni at the Melbourne International Exhibition. Superior wheat and the added boost of health giving mineral water were commented on.
On the weekends the pasta cafe is open and Maria cooks and tells stories and leads the singing celebrating the life and times of her ancestors. If you’re lucky enough to be there when tours are on, you’ll be impressed by the frescos painted on the ceilings by Giacomo Lucini. I remember there’s a scene from Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore’ depicted and like a snapshot in time Giacomo’s political allegiance’s
Denise Robinson: Update
I don't think the Old Mararoni Factory is open for anything these days sadly
A newly renovated bathhouse opened its doors again in 2008 and to honour the occasion local artist Petrus Spronk was commissioned to create a work of art. Known as “Memory of Place” it links the old with new directions for the bathhouse. The Chair and its shadow and a series of boulders tell the story of the reserve.
Many community events have taken place in the reserve, local kindergartens used it for years as place for family picnics and the 1st welcoming event of the year and annually the Swiss Italian parade winds down though the bush to arrive here. A highlight was the year local performers the Fratellini brothers kept a large crowd spell bound for over an hour. They were hugely entertaining. If you’ve brought some empty bottles you can get some mineral water from the springs.
Coming out of the reserve area your on the back Hepburn Road and head out to the Midland Highway. Your turning right and heading towards Castlemaine
Just to remind you, at the Midland Highway you are going to turn left.Heading towards Castlemaine watch for the Chocolate Mill on your left
The Chocolate Mill has been sold by Chris Whipert - new owners upholding the
Now where heading to Mt Franklin and the tour is going to take you inside the old extinct volcano
There is some dispute about the age of the volcanoes and when they actually might have last erupted. Some say 5 million years ago but there is a local story told by Djarra people that talks of this area as The Smoking Grounds and tells of a time when Mt Lalgambook threw fire rocks at Mt Tarrengower. Which would mean, that maybe they were active within the last ten thousand years.
The Heritage Victoria Site explains that Mount Franklin and the surrounding area
appears to have been a place of considerable religious significance to Aboriginal people.
Both ethnographical and archaeological evidence indicates that frequent large
ceremonial gatherings took place in the area. In fact as you head back down the hill listen to the story of one of these corroborees.
You can drive right into the crater and lots of people like to camp in here. The road to the summit is quite rough. Directions for the turn to Franklinford
“It was in the month of November, 1843, that I first had the pleasure of witnessing an Aboriginal Corroboree held on a large scale in what is now called the township of Franklinford. I had witnessed corroborees in Sydney, Adelaide and Queensland and I can safely say that it equalled anything that I ever saw
Franklinford was an insignificant place then as far as houses and European population were concerned. Blacks came from all quarters so as to make the sight more imposing. Making our way to the camp, which was close to the Station, we were attracted by the lights and the barking of dogs of which there were about 300. On nearing the camp we found it pitched in a circle of about 70 yards circumference, (more probably diameter.
A large and very good likeness of a sea serpent about 20ft long made of bark so as to resemble one in every degree, near top one side of the circle.Having arrived some minutes before the Corroboree commenced we could see dark forms skipping about, some with fire sticks and spears flashing them before the serpent with the velocity of lightning, while further in the background in the dark a wild unearthly concentrated scream of about a 1000 voices would make your blood curdle, and the scream would be answered immediately in the opposite direction by a similar series of yells, the beating of nulla-nullas and boomerangs as an accompaniment formed the orchestra, while the lighting of a large fire near the serpent served for the raising of the curtain.
When the fire burnt up brightly enough we could see in the distance a row of most hideous looking women and giorls that you could gaze on. They were painted in the most grotesque and ridiculous manner and were all sitting on a long pole which was held up with long forked sticks.
After a while the females old and young in alternative rows, sidled over to where the musicians were and sat down and all raised their voices in chorus. At this time the fire was burning firecrecly , and peering away in the darkness we saw emerging from the trees a procession of painted savages in a single file, each armed with a spear. About every 10 yards thaey all gave a yell similar to that at the commencement.
They continued until the whole of them were in view in a sort of half circle but keeping clear of the serpent. The shouting and beating of the nullah-nullahs and the gins young and old keeping up the chant and beating time on their old “blankets” (probably posuum skin rugs) made a singular pandemonium. This was the very best view we had of the performers in their paint and feathers. Many of them had their hair all stuck with parrot and cockatoo feathers. No two of them were painted exactly alike and, and in some instances they were most artistically done up. In their mouths they had pieces of white or red stuff to resemble flowers. In this manner they all proceeded round to where there was a sapling laid across tow sticks and against this were laid up two long poles on which the foremost began to ascend, coing down near the nearest side on his back – the whole of the procession following suit to the most excruciating scrams. This ended act 1 and it was on again.
Coming in to the light of the performers has and entirely new step which chiefly consisted of stamping as if to discover how far they could put their feet through the earth; they kept excellent time. On nearing the the serpent this time they, for the first time, appeared to be aware of its presence and pretended to be awfully frightened running backwards and forwards but growing bolder each time until at last they touched it, when an unearthly scream around the whole lot burst on the midnight air. The followe such tests of agility and somersaults backwards and forward as I seldom ever saw equalled. This cintined for some time until at last one more daring than the rest got astride of the serpent and another put his hand on the mouth, and then everyone in the crowd ventured to touch it.
Just as the moon appeared on the Eastern horizon she shed a glow of bright light on the serpent, when all at once you could see the dark form of a savage coming out form undernearth. At this sudden apparition the whole lot bounded away and before they got five yards a loud noise was heard like the shot of a gun and you could see a sheet of clear red fire leaping upward in heavy coils from the serpent. An immense fountain of sparks was hurled up which filled the air whith spangles that floated gently away upon the smoke and in a short time the whole of the serpent was consumed. We shall never again see such a sight as that which I and a few others atill alive witnessed in 1843 at Franklinford.
When you come to the two churches at the fork in the road you’ll see a memorial cairn to Edward Stone Parker who was appointed Aboriginal Protector for the Loddon Aborigines. He arrived in 1839 and had been directed to safeguard aborigines from "encroachments on their property, and from acts of cruelty, of oppression or injustice" and with the longer term goal of "civilising" the natives.
This area around Franklinford became known as the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate Station but to the Djarra people it was known as Larne-ne-barramul or the habitat of the emu. You can see the sign behind Parkers cairn, Larnebarramul Sanctuary, a small reminder of the traditional owners. Quite a few artifacts were collected from the site and you can see them at the Daylesford museum.
Directions to get to Clarke’s road and the Yandoit Cemetery
There is a Chinese section opposite Parker’s and I’ve been told that aboriginal people were buried throughout the cemetery and not segregated. I know of no such graves or names.
Directions, if your car is up to it you could drive out to Yandoit and see some of the Italian stone houses, I believe several are registered with Victoria Heritage. Otherwise we’re heading back towards Hepburn Either way there was a strong Swiss Italian influence in this area
The landscape around here would have been turned over and completely changed within a few decades of the goldrush commencing in the early 1850’s. At first the gold was looked for in creeks and river beds but then huge earthworks and redirecting of waterways would have huge scars on the land.
But it was the Swiss Italian who stayed on and used the waterways for their gardens. Vines were planted, and gardens and chestnut trees. The Italians were renowned green thums and used tocool climate gardening.
Nothing was wasted pork and beef were made into the legendary and local bullboar sausages, it’s said recipes were guarded jealously. Fruit was preserved and cheese and butter became a profitable business. Out on “Elevezia” at Yandoit 40 people were employed in the 1880’s.
The houses and dry stone walls are indication of the Italians adapting to their surrounds and their prudent natures. Cellars were dug and and the stones used to build the house above and paddocks were cleared for farming and the stones used to build the fences.
Those early permaculturalists thrived throughout these hills and plains.
Directions to Cricket Willow
Five generations of Tinetti’s have lived here and Ian and Trish Tinetti and their children have revived the areas early connections with cricket. The say the odd cricket game had taken place on Tinetti Hill since the Goldrush days but ‘the cricketing connection was firmly entrenched by the Crockett family just after the turn of the century” After the 1902 test match between England and Australia. Test umpire Robert Crockett and English captain Archie MacLaren were casually chatting during a break in play. MacLaren was surprised that Australia did not cultivate its own bat willow and Crockett idly suggested that MacLaren should send some cuttings to Australia upon his return to the mother country.
Cuttings were sent from England but only one survived which went on to be propagated into thousand s of cricket willow trees and bats. Years later circumstance saw these trees felled, ‘except for a handful along the banks of the Jim Crow Creek that were saved by Aquilino Tinetti.’
As I said Trish and Ian have worked hard to fullfill Aquilino’s dream of the industry being revived. There is pool tables, bocce, a bunk house that would sleep a large family group and a great museum/workshop where Ian will show how the bats are cut and made. Recently the museum also acquired a fantastic exhibition from the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. It is called Wine, Water & Stone: The Swiss and Italians of Hepburn.
Quiet achievers, unsung hero’s they are the stuff that make local legends.
You might be interested in this video I made about Cricket Willow
Directions to Lavandula
Like Alla and Tina, the extraordinary vision has been supported by painstaking and relentless work. She has restored the buildings to their former glory, the cobblestone courtyard is shady and reminiscent of far off lands and the licensed cafe, La Trattoria serves farm fresh and locally produced food.
Carol holds several festivals over the year including the lavender harvest in summer. It’s a beautiful sight watching the team gather bunches of lavender in the purple fields and then hang it out for drying. Check out Carol’s website for details of other events but I can assure you if you stop by for a visit when you enter the driveway lined with Lombardy poplars and enter Lavandula Swiss Italian farm you will feel like you have entered another world. Stay a while, relax and if you’re really feeling like indulging yourself you can hire a secluded little cottage that looks out onto the winter creek.