I’m a little ashamed to admit how little I know about the history of the New England region of NSW, where I grew up. Through my work in the public service over the years (pre family daycare) I had the privilege to visit many other regions of NSW and Queensland and learn about it’s history and settlement, as I flew-in-flew-out in the course of doing my job.
I was lucky to visit many remote communities in Queensland like Longreach, Mt Isa and Cooktown. In NSW I lived in Bourke for a while in the early 1990s, and between 2002 and 2008 I was back and forth from Tamworth to the historic Tocal College in the Hunter Valley where I worked between the two places as an Education Officer for several years.
Being a visitor in a community you tend to be shown around and treated to tours of all the historical sites of significance. Rural people especially, are very proud of their history and the part that they and their communities have played in making this country what it is today, and understandably so. As the saying goes, Australia rode to prosperity on the sheep’s back. Wool was our main export commodity from 1871 to the 1960s. For over a century, the golden fleece drew pastoral workers and professionals to regional Australia, and sustained many a country town, including my own little hamlet of Attunga where I spent my childhood.
The history of Australian settlement has always been a source of fascination for me. I’ve been really lucky to have seen so much of it in my travels.
But I have never been a visitor in my home town.
So little did I know that when my old childhood buddy Miss B invited me and two other longtime friends to visit Windy Station for lunch last week, I was in for quite a treat. I thought we’d just be catching up over quiche and salad and maybe sling the kids a snag in a very fresh plump-not-squashed bread roll that survived the one hour journey to get there.
Can we pause for a moment to reflect on the significance of 18 hot dog buns surviving the trip in a Prado jam packed with 7 passengers? I was bestowed the honour of providing the buns.
OMG the stress.
At one stage I suffered palpitations as Lindsay called out from somewhere up the back where he sat with his knees beside his ears, that he was suffering cramps and needed to stretch his legs.
‘Watch out for the buns!’ cried the bun police. ‘Here…..pass them over HERE!’
Noone was allowed to move a muscle in that Prado without first checking on the location and welfare of the buns. Nobody likes a flat bun.
And it paid off! Even with all of the home-made goodness including a yummy quiche, delicious salads, caramel slice and white chocolate tarts, the awesome company and bloody ginormous 116 year old woolshed, I think the buns were the hero of the day. Just quietly.
Okay……maybe it was the woolshed.
Holy schmokes, I was blown away.
Windy Station Woolshed is of state heritage significance for its aesthetic qualities as a large and majestic example of Federation Carpenter architecture with a strong resemblance to the large finger wharves constructed in Sydney around the same time. The woolshed is a landmark dominating the entrance to Windy Station, one of the most profitable and important historical pastoral stations in NSW.
Woolshed : 1
Buns : 0
My friend Miss B and her beautiful little family live and work at Windy Station just outside of Quirindi in Northern NSW. They occupy one of the nine houses for employees on the property, nestled in amongst a little green oasis surrounded by some 20,000 ha (50,000 ac) of prime agricultural land, now producing crops and cattle.
After lunch we took a walk down to take a look inside…..the woolshed. It is likely one of the first and certainly one of the most grand, ever built in this country.
Windy Station Woolshed is of state heritage significance for its historical role in the development of the fine wool industry the colony of NSW and its association with the Australian Agricultural Company (AAC), the colony’s first private enterprise established with the aim of developing the fine wool industry in NSW.
Those missing window panes? I read that this was a deliberate part of the design so that owls could enter the shed at night and help control the rodents. Up here for thinking!
The heady days of the fine wool industry have long since passed and these days the woolshed lies still and quiet. But as I strolled around inside, I swear I could hear the distant bleating of a thousand sheep, the clatter of hooves on wood and the drone of the shearers’ combs, 44 of them to be precise. :-O
I was more than happy to concede that my hot dog buns paled in comparison to the grandeur of this magnificent building, so steeped in Australian history that it was palpable.
I definitely rate the company though. I’m not sure which was the greater highlight for me that day. Stumbling upon this building or sharing the experience with three of my dearest friends that I’ve known since childhood.
From left to right – Chez, Moi, Weeza and Allo (Miss B). We’ve shared some history of our own, the four of us, over about 40 years. More genuine, capable or stronger women than these, would be hard to find. I love ’em to bits.
So with good company, good food and plump buns, washed down with a good swig of Australian heritage, this goes down as one of the best days out I’ve had in a long time. ♥
It certainly warmed my cockles!
Do you dig a bit of Aussie history?
Are you precious about your buns?
Ever been to Windy Station or seen anything like it?
Linking with Leanne for The Lovin’ Life Linky