Neereman farm

On Sunday I intended to go to a heritage event at Anderson’s Mill in Smeaton, on the way dropping in at Castlemaine and Maldon. But I didn’t get there.

The first part of the day went to plan with a last visit to Threadbear in Castlemaine and some time at the Maldon Cemetery. It is not far from here to Neereman and the farm on the Loddon River established in the 1860s by my great great great grandparents. It was easy to find as I had been there as a child when my mother was first researching her family history. I have some small black and white photos from that time and wanted to replace them with colour images. So this was to be a quick call to see if I could do that some time in the future.

When I got to the farm I was made to feel most welcome. Albums of photos and documents came out, including the family tree book my mother had written listing the descendants of settlers who had a farm on the other side of the river. Their son had married a daughter from this farm.

So an hour or two passed very pleasantly with Steven and Margie. The farm has been in his family from the early 1920’s and so he knew all about the alterations and when they happened and Margie had also been gathering information on the early history of the property.

Most of the original outbuilding still stand built mainly from local sandstone, although the cheese room has now collapsed due to white ants working there way through the supporting timbers. The house is brick and was originally three rooms, the rear one the dirt floored kitchen. This is as it was in about 1920 and so how it was in my family’s time.

Ely Farm

In the 1940s a whole new section was built parallel to the original so the external doors now open to a passage. The roof pitch was lowered and the attic window is now in the bathroom at the rear. A new wide window replaced the bar door at the front and a return verandah was added to update the whole look of the building. Steve has done a great job inside, restoring timber ceilings, refurbishing the original doors and taking away some earlier ‘improvements’. He obviously loves the old place.

Thanks to a successful court case at the time, a goldmine on the land had to pay substantial annual compensation to my ancestor so there were funds to establish extensive gardens and orchards. Apparently the gardens drew visitors from as far as Bendigo. An ancient olive tree is still productive, the Bunya Pine fruited this year and the Norfolk Pine is enormous. The farm was also famous for its cheese and being on a Cobb and Co route it was a staging post, also the Neereman Post Office, the Exploration Reef Hotel and depot for paying rates and voting at council elections.

Even better, Steve’s family also bought what was May Farm in Baringhup West so I got to see and copy a 1920s photo of that farm too. I think this building dates from 1878 as a tender was called for such a construction on the farm in that year. The roof is looking quite new in the photo and I hope that there were verandahs all around that were just awaiting replacement.

The Loddon River between the two farms is still a place of beauty. The magnificent River Red Gums in the picnic area near the ford would have been witness to many social occasions in the past.

Autumn Gardening

The big achievement of the last month is cleaning out all the gutters. Quite a big task as leaves blow on to the roof all the time and in summer the tiny gum nuts rain down from the lemon scented gum. Usually I just make sure the house roof is clear as any blockage will cause a back flow of rain into the ceiling. Curse those concealed gutters!

This time it was impossible to ignore the great accumulation of mulch on the carport roof. IMG_5650

It took two afternoons of going up and down the ladder and scooping out handfuls of leaves and humus before the job was done. Both gutters were clear and a quick hosing flushed out any leaves in the pipe going to the tank.IMG_5652

The end result got the tick of approval from the gutter inspector. Although she thought the lights could do with a bit of a clean too.

A bonus tree for the garden, I think it might be a jacaranda as the one nearby had a few seed pods a year ago.IMG_5715

Recent finishes

Seeing another quilter at work on some familiar piecing I was prompted to finish an appliqué cushion cover started at the 2016 AQC. We had, as it turned out, done the same Make and Take workshop run by Frangipani Fabrics. I stopped at the paper piecing stage in April last year, but thanks to Kathy’s reminder, it is now finished. The background was inspired by my recent trip to Cairn Curran in Central Victoria. The blue wrens were flitting in and out of the dry grasses and thistles, moving far to fast to photograph.



This is a technique I have wanted to try for a long time and had the opportunity to do so on 1 April. Leanne O’Sullivan of Kimono House conducted the workshop for Waverley Patchworkers, read about the day here. It is a resist technique that involves a lot of preparation of the fabric before it enters the indigo dye bath.

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nui shibori – stitch resist on silk



itajime shibori – folding and clamping




kamo sage – a friction knot and mountain pass pleating


Birthday treats

I was delighted then a bit concerned when I useuser-birthday-5656109189693440.4-hpd a popular search engine on my birthday and noticed an interesting doodle.
It was specially for me! So my date of birth is not a big secret after all. Check it out on your big day.

A little while after the exact date the occasion was celebrated with a delicious sushi train dinner at Sakura Kaiten Sushi in Little Collins Street. Then off to see The Book of Mormon at the Princess Theatre. This treat was courtesy of my son, and it was for his sister’s birthday too which was earlier in the year.

Lots of short back ‘n sides haircuts along with white shirts and black pants were in the crowd. After much discussion we decided the two sitting in front of us were fans in costume, the hipster beard was the giveaway along with the cocktails at interval.IMG_5568

Waiting for curtain up on a fantastic show that lived up to all the hype. The only negative was the laughter was so long and the singing so loud at times it was hard to catch the clever lyrics.

Embroiderers and Golden Textures

The broad skies that open up after crossing the Great Dividing Range are exhilarating. Endless blue and at this time of year golden stubble in the vast paddocks. Sunday was the perfect day for a long drive through Central Victoria, hot, still and little traffic on the roads.

First stop was the Castlemaine Golf Course, venue of Colour Magic an exhibition of the Castlemaine Branch of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria. The setting was enough to make you want to take up golf, on this course more than a leisurely walk. At the entry was a work basket and chair created by Castlemaine Floristry. No photographs of the work inside was allowed, so just a general shot showing the retrospective display of Beverley Downie’s wonderful work across many techniques and genres. I particularly liked the crewel work on the stomacher of a replica 18th century dress and her landscapes of the local area in mixed media.

I was able to find Denise, the maker of the stunning cauliflower pincushion who gave her permission for a photo. It is a design by Julie Kniedl published in Inspirations, and according to Denise not for the faint hearted.

The second exhibition for the day was in Maryborough. I had two choices of road, north through Maldon and Baringhup or south around the back of Cairn Curran the vast reservoir formed by the damming of the Loddon River. I chose the second route along the Pyrenees Highway. This took me across the Moolort Plains, a beautiful almost treeless basalt plain dotted with wetlands and old bluestone buildings.

romulus-download2If you have seen the film Romulus My Father you will know this country.

IMG_5520I turned off at Joyce’s Creek where the now closed Maryborough-Castlemaine  Line crosses the upper reaches of Cairn Curran to take a few photos of the landscape.

IMG_5501Looking back down the side road to the water with Mt Franklin in the distance.

The Biennial Golden Textures exhibition in at the Central Goldfields Art Gallery is curated by Maryborough local Jenny Bacon and features many significant Australian textile artists. In a side room were a few works from the permanent collection including these two by Jenny Bacon.

No visit to this town is complete without viewing the station.  It is registered by the Heritage Council of Victoria and the plaque states it was built for the Victorian Railways between 1890 and 1892. The station’s distinctive design and scale make it one of the most outstanding railway stations in Victoria. The cyclists were pleased with themselves for reaching their destination.

I then took to the road again, back to the Moolart Plains then cross country heading south towards a plume of smoke in the distance. The back roads took me through wheat farms and into volcano country with Mt Mooroobyle to my right and Mt Kooroocheang to the left.  The smoke turned out to be a small stubble burn off, attended by a fire tanker.

Smeaton is a town dominated by poplars but I found the memorial drive at Kingston far more impressive, so did a little research when back home. Untitled1The 2.9 km avenue of 285 trees, mostly Dutch Elms, stretches from tiny town to the Midland Highway. It was planted for the Creswick Shire in 1918 and commemorates with individual trees the men and women from the shire who enlisted in WWI . Such plantings were encouraged by the State Recruiting Committee in 1917 so that intending recruits could be assured their name would be memorialised in an Avenue of Honour. 218 avenues were planted to commemorate WWI in Victoria.

On I drove, to Dean then through potato country, over the Western Highway and finally to Lal Lal and a friendly welcome and a delicious cup of tea.

The road home was not nearly so interesting, but it was a lot quicker.





Ever wondered what happened to the helium balloon after you accidentally let go of it? This morning I discovered Florrie resting on a small shrub next to the steps as I came in from fetching the morning paper.IMG_5477

It had been quite windy yesterday, so she could have spent time between the weekend and now stuck in the branches of the tree just above where she now rests.

After a little research I think by they way she has torn that it was the thinning atmosphere as she rose higher and higher that caused her demise.


Balloon burst at approx 91,470 ft over San Francisco

Reminds me of the whole school balloon launches that were popular about 30 years ago. Sent off with optimism that the attached postcards would be returned after the seeds secured to them were planted. Some did come back, mainly from farmers in Gippsland happy to oblige the kids. Then there was the card that came all the way from Europe via the travelling friend of one of the teachers.

Since then we have learned of the harm all that stray latex and string brings to the environment, particularly sea creatures, so no more balloon launches.

Florrie tried a new life as a kitten toy, with limited success.


Friday Update

Thinking like Vireya that Florrie came from a significant birthday celebration, I did some searching. Instead of a centenarian I discovered that Florrie is the name of a new venture located in High St, Armadale about 50 min away by road. The business sells a fancy doll and also hosts birthday parties. They sent me a lovely reply to my email.

I am very sorry to report that one of your balloons has flown all the way to Warranwood. It did not survive the trip.


Hi Jeanette,
That balloon sounds like it certainly went on an adventure! I am sure some little girl was very upset when it slipped from her grasp and began it’s journey.
Best wishes

Melody Sole
Head of Marketing and Online

Numerate Nelumbo

The lotus plant that grows in a water bowl is beginning to die down, it will be back again next summer. In a bit of a tidy up I cut off the seedpods and look at how they have grown. None are missing, this in the entire harvest.IMG_5401

Before you say anything, the one with five seeds did not have a sixth one, that flower did not form completely.