Chewton Sculptures


A new sculpture has taken up residence in Chewton. The life size timber carving sits perched on the front fence of American born artist, Richard Yates. The sculpture represents Mrs. Frances White who had a lucky escape in 1948 when part of the backyard of her home caved in. Mrs. White saved herself from falling by grabbing hold of a tree branch as the earth slipped away to reveal an old gold mine shaft 8 feet wide and 80 feet deep. Mrs White lived at 153 Main Rd. in what was formerly the Francis Ormond Mine manager’s house.






The old mine manager’s house

On the other side of the road is an earlier sculpture created by Richard Yates.





“Their shining Eldorado

Beneath the southern skies

Was day and night for ever

Before their eager eyes.

The brooding bush, awakened,

Was stirred in wild unrest,

And all the year a human stream

Went pouring to the West.”

“The azure line of ridges,

The bush of darkest green,

The little homes of calico

That dotted all the scene.”

“I hear the fall of timber

From distant flats and fells,

The pealing of the anvils

As clear as little bells,

The rattle of the cradle,

The clack of windlass-boles,

The flutter of the crimson flags

Above the golden holes.”

‘The Roaring Days’

by Henry Lawson 1889

If you want to know more about Richard Yates, the sculptor, check out this YouTube video:

13 Responses

  1. My great great grandfather Henry Lawy was mine manager for Francis Ormond till 1888, and my great grandmother Alice would have been a young girl living there. I’m sure I have seen a photo of her out the front .

    • Thank you for your comment, Jasmine.
      Old photographs of the towns during the 1800s are very interesting. I haven’t seen an old photograph of the Francis Ormond mine manager’s house as yet.
      One of the stall holders at Wesley Hill Market in Castlemaine sells fridge magnets featuring early photographs of the goldfields and towns. My refrigerator is sporting a collection of them.

  2. Frances White is actually my great-grandmother! When I was young my grandfather used to tell me the story of how his mother almost fell down the mine shaft. It’s a very interesting piece of history and I’m glad it is being commemorated in such a fantastic way!

    • Thanks for visiting my blog, Jack. It is interesting how people who live locally connect with various aspects of the region’s history. Chewton still celebrates the Monster Meeting. One day I hope to attend one of the celebrations.

  3. I must say I am very surprised the old mine manager’s home was allowed to be built anywhere near any old mine shafts! Mrs White was indeed very lucky! The last time I was in Chewton, some 20+ years ago, was on a photography school weekend workshop excursion. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the locale and the many interesting photo ops. especially landscape-wise. It was a fun weekend! I love central Victoria in the goldfields regions.

    • Thank you for your comment. My own home in Castlemaine is built on a site where a neighbour used to play among the mullock heaps as a boy. Bendigo sits on top of a network of mine shafts and tunnels.
      I hope you return to this area one day and make use of new photographic opportunities which provide subjects for further play and experimentation.

      • Ooohh, I hadn’t realised that about Bendigo…how interesting! Many sinkings/sinkholes there? I’d love to return, but am not as mobile any more, unfortunately. I love that whole area.

  4. That’s a lovely sculpture of Mrs White and what a story to go with it. She looks very pensive …and thankful to the heavens, it seems.

    • Hi Gail, Yes, the sculpture is eye catching. I got such a surprise when I first saw it. When I went over to have a closer look, a couple from Bendigo were also admiring Mrs. White. Apparently, the installation of the sculpture had received publicity in the Bendigo media.

  5. Chewton has changed since I was a kid! Amazing work, very impressive, thanks for sharing it, Margaret.

    • Yes, Chewton, like Newstead, has a strong culture of its own. I attended a concert at St. John’s Anglican Church in Chewton this afternoon. The performers were all from the local district. They were donating their talents to support the effort to raise money for the ongoing maintenance of the church.
      News of all things Chewton is published in the ‘Chewton Chat’, the local monthly community newspaper.

  6. Splendid sculptures and I loved the Lawson poem, I have a book of his work on my shelves still.

    • I am glad you liked the sculptures, Susan. I thought ‘The Roaring Days’ was relevant to the sculpture of the miner. I am currently reading a book of Henry Lawson’s poetry to honour the memory of a friend who died late last year. My friend who had lived in Australia for many years came from the United Kingdom and she belonged to The Henry Lawson Society.

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