The retouched illustration above shows how the flour mill probably looked in the 1860s before the substantial stone engine house and brick chimney were pulled down. Our intention is to eventually reconstruct these important missing elements using photographs and measurements taken during archaeological excavations.
Braidwood's historic Gold Escort Carriage, used between about 1860 and 1880 to transfer gold from the Araluen & Major's Creek gold mines to a stage coach connection at Braidwood, has been restored by Millpond for the Braidwood Museum. Click here for more.
March 15; Syd & Nicki Reinhardt visited Braidwood this week in their 1929 Speed Six Bentley scouting for a proposed Bentley run to Braidwood during the Airing of the Quilts in November. Syd & Nicki have previously brought their magnificent 1929 Bentley Speed Six Sedanca de Ville, the Olympia Show car, to town, and have since then toured Britain and the Continent in it. We are looking forward to the possibility of the glorious exhaust notes of perhaps 30 vintage Bentley's in Braidwood later this year.
The historic buildings at Millpond Farm have seen many uses but perhaps the most exciting developments occurred during the Gold Rush of the early 1850s. As a part of the restoration and conservation of the property, ongoing archaeological excavations, begun in 2008, have provided a new understanding of the significance of this remarkable site.
Click here to read more about the history of Dransfield's Mill.
The spectacular 20 acre wetland at Millpond Farm was formed by the Jembaicumbene Creek weaving through the valley from Reidsdale, bringing with it alluvial gold from the hills. The wetland was reputedly an important aboriginal meeting and watering place until the Gold Rush of the 1850s brought a flood of prospectors, who soon removed the vegetation and redirected the creek in races for mining purposes. The 1890s saw the arrival of a huge Gold Dredge which changed the area again, creating deep ponds along the altered line of the creek. Dredging finished in 1925, and the area was left to rehabilitate. Gradually the vegetation, both indigenous and introduced, grew and the wetland filled with native birds, including coots, purple swamp hens, egrets, black swans and other water fowl. Platypus moved into the banks and black swamp wallabies returned to join the kangaroos, possums and wombats. For the past 50 years the area has been effectively impregnable with overgrowth. In 2010, after careful study of the flora and fauna, a light walking trail has been opened and to this will be added bird watching hides and explanatory panels allowing visitors to inconspicuously watch the remarkable wildlife activity without disturbing the habitat. The falling willow will gradually be replaced with native trees and the blackberry slowly replaced with other types of plants to ensure that the numerous birds currently nesting in them will continue to have a safe home.
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Millpond Farm 2009/2014
Important conservation works to protect the 1859 Jembaicumbene Steam Flour Mill built by Charles Dransfield in 1859 are underway and the first of four floors has been repaired and made weatherproof after being open to the elements since 1885.
The 1960s sheep flooring which had been laid in place of the original random width boards was removed with the help of a remarkable new tool, the Ezy-Lifter, designed by Brisbane enthusiast Marc Parfumi and featured on the ABC programme "The New Inventors" this year. Marc kindly lent us his prototype to help lift 250 square metres of battered sheep flooring, and some of the original boards which are being saved to repair to upstairs floors. The traditional method of lifting the boards proved difficult as the sheep flooring was held with four inch nails into dry hardwood joists, and the 1850s boards, nailed with six hand made iron clouts at each joist, were extremely brittle. The Ezy-Lifter enabled all the boards to be removed with a minimum of damage, and in a remarkably short time. These handy tools will be available from stores later this year for about $150 and are a must for anyone restoring an old building. We found it also works very well for lining boards on walls and ceilings. Thank you Marc!
See more at www.ezylifter.com
Charles Dransfield's Jembaicumbene Steam Flour Mill was transformed into a 1930s speakeasy jazz club to celebrate Andrew Gow's 40th birthday in September 2010. The party, thought to be the first social event in the Mill since the opening party on 25th January 1860, attracted nearly 100 people from Braidwood, around Australia and overseas, all dressed appropriately in jazz era costume. Stars of the show were brilliant local jazz singer Maddie Anderson and Jennifer Gadston on the 1912 piano, performing a variety of swing classics and period songs. The building was swagged with banners & illuminated for the night, and inside David Gow ran the speakeasy bar, while Helen Bennet and her friend Betsy provided a delicious banquet. The oyster fountain proved extremely popular and the party continued into the wee hours. A truly memorable event!
Jennifer Gadston, Trish McPherson, Antony Davies, Andrew Gow and Robert Aernout
The building was festooned and floodlit for the celebration
Jennifer Gadston on piano with Maddie Anderson singing
Alison McTaggart, Bromwyn Richards and Helen Lynch
Laura, Jeannie & Mark Burton
Sharon Thompson & Alex Rea
The interior was furnished like a 1930s speakeasy bar
The 1840s wagon barn at Millpond Farm
The wagon barn under restoration January 2011
New stone walls around the mill safely enclose the historical footings and frame a new terrace
2011 has been busy already at Millpond Farm. We have seven new Alpaca crias, and have begun restoration of the Wagon barn and workshops which will house our carriage collection and provide excellent workshop facilities for restorations. The 60 metre gabion stone wall around the Mill is nearing completion and lots of new wooden fencing is underway. We have moved and relocated some enormous trees, and cleared the 19th century orchard, which has sprung to life with wonderful old varieties of apple, pear, plum and quince. The mill forecourt and wagon barn was prepared in time for our carriages to be installed in March before the wet weather. Most of the materials used to restore the buildings has been recycled from later structures on the property. What exhausting work!
October 2012 - All stops are out as we race to prepare for the opening of our new business, the Wheatfield Gallery, at Millpond Farm in November. Subject to Council approval being granted in time.......the first exhibition "Best in Show" is a combined mixed media event focused on dogs of all breeds, and featuring the work of Catherin McMillan, Phil Day, Robin Wallace-Crabbe, Pascal Geier, Greg Sugden and Merrie Hamilton and Sam Kidd. Works range from wonderfully detailed pastels, to loose coloured washes and a series of pop art portraits of some of our four legged friends. Witty sculptures by Robin Wallace-Crabbe and Greg Sugden provide for some amusing off-the-wall entries. More details here soon. Following "Best in Show" is a selling exhibition of magnificent antique toys.
June 2012 - At last our flour mill has a full compliment of beautiful finely glazed sash windows fitted, the first time since they were removed in 1885 that the building has been properly sealed from the weather. The windows are exact reconstructions of the original frames, copied from one surviving example, and hand made by Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania over the past months. The work was made possible with the help of our good friends Mark & Jeannie Burton who made two trips to the United States in which they negotiated and organised the windows, and physically moved and packed them ready for transport all the way to Jembaicumbene. The traditional putty glazing was completed by the excellent team at O'Brien Glass in Fyshwick, and this stage of our project was finished with a lot of hard work, money and effort, and assisted by a grant generously provided by the NSW Heritage Office. Thanks also to our heritage advisers David Hobbes and Peter Freeman. Now we are ready to continue the restoration work inside the building.
Late in 2013....This year we've had sixteen new Alpaca crias. Happily they are a beautiful bunch and have settled in well. Sixteen names beginning with "Q" were a challenge though!
April 2014. Our friends will be nearly as relieved as we will be that the farmhouse is nearly finished. The current work has focused on the roofs and verandahs, and refinishing the bathrooms. The whole house had to be comprehensively dismantled and major conservation work completed from the ground up. The roof is being finished this month and the decoration can then be completed. The house began life in the late 1830s as a simple out-station for Exeter Farm, and grew into a Gothic revival dairy building, and with numerous extensions by the late 1880s into the rambling farmhouse it is today.
March 2014. We had the great pleasure of hosting a party for our good friends Sandy Fisher and Jan Esman in our Mill, with about a hundred guests. It was a lovely sunny day and there was music, food and drinks aplenty. It's the nicest way of celebrating we think!