St. John’s Anglican Church, Chewton
June 2, 2017

St. John’s is the only remaining church in Chewton still used as a place of worship. It is part of the Anglican Parish of Castlemaine. It is typical of a small country church.

Nothing fancy, as the stone slab for a back step demonstrates.

The church is set on a hill among gum trees and overlooks the township.

I like the coloured glass windows which give me the feeling of being inside a jewel box.

I like watching the play of light as the sun streams through the windows when…..

 

 

…………I attend the concerts held in the church in the afternoon of the last Sunday of the month during autumn and winter.

The concerts are informal affairs with local singers, poets and musicians donating their talents to help raise funds for the maintenance of the church.

The Castlemaine district is home to a wealth of makers of stringed and wind instruments. Here Michael Sweeney is about to play his lute. People with a keen eye will note that Michael who is left handed, has made a left handed lute.

Dave De Hugard is a well known folklorist and musician who has been collecting and researching Australian bush dance tunes for years. He is playing Australian old time dance tunes on his piano accordion and concertina.

Solway Nutting is playing Bach with her husband on violin and friend on keyboards in harpsichord mode.

With afternoon tea provided, the concerts are a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Chewton Sculptures
May 28, 2017

Richard Yates, sculptor, has been busy carving and whittling away since my previous post on this subject, as two more life size sculptures have been added to the Chewton streetscape.

Robert Penney, ‘Bread and Biscuit Baker, Confectioner and General Grocer’, stands ready to serve customers in his shop.

Robert who was born in Bath, England in 1848, accompanied his father to the Chewton goldfields in 1854. He established his bakery in the 1870s and operated the business until 1923. Robert and his wife, Ann Maria, had 10 children.

The yellow tins of Barnes Castlemaine Rock are still sold today.

The building with the peeling white paint housed Robert Penney’s bakery.

Outside the Chewton Senior Citizens Centre, Alice Dennis waves cheerily to passers-by.

Alice, 1923 – 2004, was one of those community stalwarts who help to make small communities function.

She started early, raising funds for the war effort during World War 2. Together with her 4 sisters, they formed a dance troupe, The McLennan Sisters, who performed through out local communities.

The sculpture honours Alice as a Life Time Member of the Chewton Senior Citizens. She served on many local committees including the Chewton Primary School’s Mothers Club.

The containers Alice is holding are a reminder of her famous baked treats.

The Senior Citizens Centre is a former Sunday School.

I was interested to read in the local press that the sculptures created by Richard Yates have attracted some controversy. There are local regulations relating to preserving Chewton’s historic streetscape. These sculptures of Chewton identities are seen by some as being at odds with those bylaws.

The Potager, Chewton
September 30, 2016

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Last Sunday, the 25th of September, was the final day for the HEDGE open gardens this year. One of the gardens I visited, was The Potager. Just beyond the swimming pool is an enclosed garden of narrow, curving, stone edged beds………

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……..where herbs, vegetables, self seeding annuals and perennials rub shoulders with each other.

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Globe artichokes are a garden favourite in this district as they grow so well. People grow them for their foliage, edible chokes or stunning purple flowers.

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In another area of the garden, it was blossom heaven.

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Euphorbias are another garden favourite in this district. They are tough, come in a variety of forms and have distinctive lime green heads.

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Chewton Sculptures
May 14, 2016

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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.

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The old mine manager’s house

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

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“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:

Chewton Post and Telegraph Office
April 27, 2016

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A friend and I recently spent a morning drawing in nearby Chewton. My friend who likes to draw ruinous buildings, busied herself with the remains of an old bank whilst I was attracted by the colourful display of artificial flowers hanging in baskets on the verandah of the post office.

The Chewton Post and Telegraph Office was built in 1879. As the population declined in the post gold rush era, the Commonwealth Postmaster General’s Department made the post office redundant but it continued to operate as a local enterprise. The post office has survived various attempts to shut it down. In the 1990s, the local council wanted to sell the land but the good folk of Chewton were having none of that. They formed the Chewton Domain Society and took ownership of the land where the post office, old town hall and a small park are situated.  This independently minded community also formed a local organisation to run the local swimming pool when the council tried to shut it down.

The post office currently provides services to about 400 local residents who collect their mail from post office boxes as there are no home mail deliveries in Chewton.

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This sign hangs on the post office fence. I have not seen its like elsewhere in the district.

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The Eureka Reef
August 19, 2015

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The Eureka Reef site is near Chewton. The site forms part of the Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park. Here a range of quartz and alluvial gold mines operated from the mid 1850s to the 1950s.

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 There are deep vertical shafts. A concrete slab covers the shaft in the car park. Visitors can gaze into the inky blackness through an observation hole.

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 Gold bearing quartz was ripped from the hill leaving a deep chasm.

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If you want a closer look, check out this video on You Tube:

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There are hand dug water races. Water races were used in sluicing operations to wash through layers of gravel to extract gold.

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 There are bits of buildings here and bits of buildings there.

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Cyanide tanks were used to extract gold from tailings in the 1930s.

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Instead of a vertical chimney, miners built a Cornish chimney which follows the slope of a hill.  A fire heated water which created steam which drove the batteries which crushed the quartz to extract the gold……..the noise must have been horrendous!

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Nothing in here!

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 The chimney is beautifully and expertly made.

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The top of the chimney is at the top of the slope.

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The Manchester Reef, Chewton
July 26, 2015

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Most weeks, Katie and I spend time walking in the local bushland.

After I have shopped at the Wesley Hill market on Saturday mornings, we often go for a walk in the bushland around nearby Chewton.

During the latter half of the 1850s, what is now quiet bushland, was a mining and industrial landscape dotted with temporary settlements. It is common to see evidence of the activity of those times on our walks.

Some of the more well known historical sites such as the Manchester Reef have a sign but others are unmarked.

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This chimney and fireplace are the remains of a more substantial building. It sits on a raised platform and faces the remnants of a street.

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We walked down a track, crossed a gully and further on up a hill, began seeing the familiar waste heaps of a mine.

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The Manchester Reef site has a horizontal shaft…….

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‘No Katie, we are not going in that big, scary hole.’

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…. and a open cut mine where the top of the ridge was unzipped and the reef material scooped out.

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Katie has managed not to fall over any cliffs or get lost in any mines.

On Monday, 27th of June 1898, ‘The Argus’ newspaper reported on ‘The Gunpowder Outrage at Chewton’. The ‘Argus’ reported the attempt to injure the Chinese, Ah Lin, at Manchester Reef by placing a parcel of gunpowder in a crevice of his hut at daybreak on Wednesday morning. A man, James Barnes, was arrested.

Fridgehenge
March 30, 2015

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 ‘Beware of the Fridges

These are wild undomesticated fridges

Approach with Caution

Do not Feed the Fridges’

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Local primary schools had really got into the spirit of things putting a lot of time and effort into their fridges.

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 ‘Welcome to our mouldy old fridge.’

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 Winters Flat Primary School was into avoiding waste and saving energy in a big way.

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 As you can see, I went bananas over Chewton Primary School’s fridge. I found the imaginary contents of the ‘preserves’ in the jars irresistible.

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 Castlemaine North Primary School’s fridge ‘Balinese Food Offerings’ was covered in coloured rice grains.

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 ‘Danger, Do Not open

Sculls Inside’

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 ‘You are what you eat!’

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Fridgehenge was a project of the Fringe Festival which ran concurrently with the Castlemaine State Festival from the 13th to the 22nd of March.