STEP BACK IN TIME

DISCOVER THE NSW CEN­TRAL WEST AND TAKE A WALK ALONG THE BATHURST HER­ITAGE TRADES TRAIL.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - WORDS ROB IN­GRAM PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MICHAEL WEE

We take a trip down mem­ory lane and discover the amaz­ing tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship along the Bathurst Her­itage Trades Trail.

ACROSS THE ROAD FROM from the Bathurst Rail­way Sta­tion (1876) is Tre­main’s Mill (1857) and, in its cav­ernous in­te­rior, El­iz­a­beth Forbes is weav­ing split rat­tan cane to re­pair the hexag­o­nal-pat­terned seat of an an­tique chair. Peter Reid is here, too, dili­gently craft­ing a vi­o­lin with hand tools that haven’t changed much in cen­turies. Don’t pull up a chair and wait to see the fin­ished prod­uct. It may take hun­dreds of hours. And Doug Kin­ley­side, us­ing an old pole lathe, is turn­ing spin­dles for an­tique fur­ni­ture restora­tion and rolling pins for the retro kitchena­lia craze. You don’t have to look at your watch to see what time it is… it’s the mid 19th cen­tury at the Ha­van­nah Street end of Kep­pel Street, which — ex­cuse the con­tra­dic­tion in terms — has be­come a her­itage precinct. Along Bathurst’s Her­itage Trades Trail, ev­ery­thing old is new again. Bathurst is, after all, the old­est Euro­pean set­tle­ment west of the Blue Moun­tains. The trail is help­ing us re­con­nect with our her­itage, and you’re more than wel­come to come along for the ride. This year’s Her­itage Trades Trail, ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship, takes place on the week­end of May 12th and 13th as part of Bathurst Her­itage Week and the Na­tional Trust Aus­tralian Her­itage Fes­ti­val. “We are de­lighted to be able to present such a caval­cade of tal­ented trades and crafts­peo­ple who are keep­ing rare skills alive,” says Sandy Bath­gate, con­venor of the Bathurst Her­itage Ac­tion Net­work. “The Her­itage Trail is a very spe­cial op­por­tu­nity to re­dis­cover tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship — to watch rare things of true value be­ing hand­made by real ar­ti­sans.” Many of Bathurst’s iconic his­toric lo­ca­tions pro­vide venues for the trade and craft ac­tiv­i­ties. The event is a seam­less fit for a city where grand old 19th-cen­tury build­ings now house restau­rants, bars and gal­leries. And where the in­spired and in­spir­ing preser­va­tion of Tre­main’s Mill and its streetscape is cre­at­ing a ded­i­cated precinct that will be­come a totem to Bathurst’s rich her­itage re­sources. The iconic mill com­plex it­self is a valu­able part of Australia’s in­dus­trial her­itage. It fea­tures unique stacked Ore­gon and oak tim­ber si­los and milling ma­chin­ery in­stalled by the Tre­main fam­ily in 1901 that still op­er­ates to­day. As part of the restora­tion of the com­plex, cur­rent owner Stephen Bir­rell is in­cor­po­rat­ing a work­ing model replica of the old flour mill, ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces, re­tail and res­i­den­tial ar­eas, and an out­door pi­azza space as a draw­card for the pub­lic. On the Her­itage Trail week­end, Tre­main’s Mill will be the venue for restora­tion crafts, in­clud­ing El­iz­a­beth Forbes’ fas­ci­nat­ing fur­ni­ture can­ing. As a young­ster, El­iz­a­beth vis­ited a fa­cil­ity in Sus­sex where can­ing was an ac­tiv­ity un­der­taken by blind work­ers op­er­at­ing purely by feel. “The fas­ci­na­tion re­mained with me,” she says. “I took up the craft back in the ’80s, and five years ago did an ad­vanced course in Eng­land.” Cane or ‘wicker’ weav­ing dates back to early Egyp­tian times, arte­facts of the craft in­clud­ing a woven daybed that had be­longed to King Tu­tankhamen around 1325BC. Tech­niques and ma­te­ri­als have not changed through­out his­tory and even many of the pat­terns are re­garded as tra­di­tional. A spe­cial at­trac­tion at Tre­main’s Mill — ac­knowl­edg­ing na­tional re­spect for the Her­itage Trades event — is the in­volve­ment of staff and stu­dents from the Grimwade Cen­tre at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne. The cen­tre is the only academy in Australia teach­ing cul­tural ma­te­ri­als con­ser­va­tion, and is pro­vid­ing a Her­itage Con­ser­va­tion Road­show in­cor­po­rat­ing demon­stra­tions and free con­sul­ta­tions about how to best care for im­por­tant trea­sures from your fam­ily his­tory. Lisa Mans­field, stu­dent con­ser­va­tor at the cen­tre, says, “The con­ser­va­tion skills we’ll demon­strate en­able in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties to ex­plore their past, cre­ate iden­tity and com­mu­nity in the present, and ac­cess their her­itage into the fu­ture.” The 1837 Unit­ing Church Hall in Wil­liam Street will unite a num­ber of the soft crafts, such as lace­mak­ing, spin­ning and weav­ing, em­broi­dery, felt­ing and quilt­ing. Lace­maker El­iz­a­beth Stone­man is the NSW pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian Lace Guild and can spin a yarn about the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of the craft as she spins an in­tri­cate web of linen thread, just as they did in Venice dur­ing the 16th cen­tury. Al­ways a lux­ury item, lace was of­ten worn in the cof­fin by the de­spi­ca­bly rich… only to have their graves robbed and the lace re­claimed. “Lace has al­ways sparked strong opin­ions,” says El­iz­a­beth. “Queen Vic­to­ria sup­ported lace­mak­ers and pro­moted their prod­uct. Oliver Cromwell de­rided it as friv­o­lous. But if you love it, it be­comes an ob­ses­sion. The ladies of the Lace Guild never miss an Annabel Crabb ap­pear­ance on tele­vi­sion to see if maybe the renowned retro fash­ion­ista is sport­ing a lace col­lar and cuffs.” The Agri­cul­tural Re­search Sta­tion, her­itage-listed by Bathurst Coun­cil, pro­vides the venue for farm trades, and fea­tures demon­stra­tions by black­smiths, a far­rier, wheel­wright, even a re­pairer and builder of vin­tage and vet­eran bi­cy­cles. John Kitchen has built and raced his own penny far­thing and will show faith­ful repli­cas of the Coven­try Ro­tary tri­cy­cle from 1867, the loop-frame tri­cy­cle from 1883, and the very first bi­cy­cle — the Baron von Drais wooden cre­ation in­vented 200 years ago. Black­smith Tom Miller will be the warm­est per­son at the event, toil­ing over his char­coal-fired forge draw­ing out, bend­ing, twist­ing and ta­per­ing red-hot iron to pro­duce many of the nec­es­sary tools and uten­sils that vil­lage smithies turned out for cen­turies. “Un­for­tu­nately, nearly all new tech­nolo­gies find their first ap­pli­ca­tions with the mil­i­tary,” says Tom. “So, orig­i­nally, black­smiths used their skills to pro­duce spears and swords and axes and ar­mour. At the Her­itage Trades Trail week­end, I’ll be mak­ing small 20- to 30-minute items so peo­ple can watch the en­tire trans­for­ma­tion, from a piece of iron to

“The Her­itage Trail is an op­por­tu­nity to re­dis­cover tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship.”

maybe a corkscrew. The corkscrew has re­solved many more dis­putes than armed con­flict!” The Bathurst Memo­rial En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre will host a dis­play and work­shops re­lat­ing to the his­tory of Aus­tralian wedding at­tire from back in the old days. Pre­sented by the Bathurst District His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, the Get­ting Hitched ex­hi­bi­tion looks at 200 years of bridal gowns and wedding para­pher­na­lia from the Bathurst re­gion. Chi­fley Home, the mod­est res­i­dence of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Ben Chi­fley and his wife El­iz­a­beth, has be­come one of the most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions in Bathurst for the in­sight it pro­vides into the do­mes­tic life of an or­di­nary man who rose from be­ing an engine driver to the high­est of­fice in the land. The per­fect venue there­fore, for a jour­ney through the food cul­ture and culi­nary evo­lu­tion of the Bathurst re­gion. The ex­hi­bi­tion spans the food and heal­ing knowl­edge of Wi­rad­juri women, through to the in­flu­ence of Chi­nese mar­ket gar­den­ers, ex­per­i­men­tal farm­ing and the can­ning in­dus­try, then the café so­ci­ety and su­per­mar­ket shop­ping. Cul­tural her­itage tourism is a key part of the frame­work of the re­cently re­leased Bathurst Re­gion Des­ti­na­tion Brand Strat­egy. A nat­u­ral link ex­ists be­tween cul­tural her­itage tourism and re­gional de­vel­op­ment in the way that tourism helps a des­ti­na­tion di­ver­sify its econ­omy. Tourism is an ideal realm in which to ex­plore her­itage, and the Trail cre­ates a new per­spec­tive of her­itage tra­di­tions. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit na­tion­al­trust.org.au

Black­smith Tom Miller is used to work­ing in the heat — and pro­duc­ing in­tri­cate de­signs. FAC­ING PAGE An elab­o­rate cast-iron drink­ing foun­tain, im­ported from Scot­land in 1891, in Bathurst’s Machat­tie Park.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP LEFT El­iz­a­beth Forbes traces her fas­ci­na­tion with cane and wicker weav­ing back to a visit to Eng­land as a child; black­smith Tom Miller at work; lace­maker El­iz­a­beth Stone­man pre­pares for the Her­itage Trades Trail. She is pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian Lace Guild; a bridal gown from the Get­ting Hitched ex­hi­bi­tion, span­ning two cen­turies; rich ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage is on dis­play in Bathurst’s his­toric Ge­orge Street.

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