The sun was shining and we had no commitments. So we hopped into the Big Red Car and drove up to Kyneton, about ninety kilometres from Melbourne. A former gold rush town, it still has many original buildings and the wide streets and verandahs of an Australian country town. For many years it has been a favourite ‘Sunday drive’ destination with antique stores and restaurants.
Kyneton isn’t far from Hanging Rock, which is going to be the setting for a ‘Too Many Mirandas’ flashmob later in February.
Feel like joining them? Here’s the video so that you can learn the dance. It looks like fun. But I think I’m more Miss Appleyard than Miranda or even Ethel.
There was a stonemason’s yard where they were operating a hand-operated crane to move some marble blocks.
The museum was open so of course we went in. They’ve obviously had lots of financial support for the museum, which was housed in a former bank building with lots of land attached. Their main exhibition in the front rooms in on loan from Tennis Australia, and features lawn tennis objects, including a Teddy Tingling tennis dress.
In the grounds outside they had a very well-preserved timber slab hut. The original hut had been built around and encased in weatherboards, leaving the original hut in very good condition. It was originally located on a local farm property but has since been shifted to the museum. The pig shed from the local market was shifted to the museum site too, and is now used to display agricultural equipment.
There was a Furphy water cart there, dating from 1920. I’d never noticed what looked like hieroglyphics on the tank end. Steve thought it looked like shorthand, and according to the ADB, that’s exactly what it is, apparently exhorting the reader to stay away from strong drink and stick to water instead.
They even have a bluestone structure that no-one really knows why it was built. They think it might be a pigeon loft because there are alcoves built into the walls which might be used for nesting, and steps leading down from the windows for young birds just learning to fly. It had at various times been used as a morgue too, but no-one really knows.
Upstairs in the old bank building the rooms are still laid out as they would have been when it was used as the bank manager’s residence. All in all, well worth a visit although I wish that someone from the local historical society had been in attendance because the woman working there, while very welcoming and helpful, did not come from the area and her knowledge of Kyneton as a broader area was limited.
After museum-ing, it was time for lunch. How could we pass a bakery that had won so many prizes? Pies, vanilla slices- it just cleaned up the competition! I’m obviously not good at this taking-pictures-of-your-food thing because I’m sure the pie looked better before I started eating it. At least I took a photo of the very good vanilla slice before I hoed into it.
A final drive to the Botanic Gardens, where the National Trust heritage-listed trees were carefully listed in a useful pamphlet available as you go in the gate. Then we headed for home, going past the school. In the local community newsletter it appears that the school site is about to be closed because a new school is opening up and there’s a movement afoot for the old school to be used for community purposes. It’s a beautiful bluestone school, with a WWI memorial to fallen former scholars right in the playground where the kiddies play. But Kyneton has just so many historic buildings for community purposes and a limited, albeit active, population to use them. Wait and see, I guess.
I’m very fond of Kyneton. We visit on the way home from the Woodend Winter Arts Festival every year. They have an excellent garden nursery where we have bought potato seedlings for the vegie patch, and the restaurants on the main drag are excellent!
But gosh, they need to liven up that dance a bit if they expect to compete with the flash dances we’ve seen on Facebook so far!
It looks to be a great place to visit. We have an acquaintance there, which is both an incentive and disincentive to visit. I will forget my reading specs so I won’t be able to read the fine print on the Furphy Cart.
Lovely write up Janine. I don’t think we’ve been to Kyneton yet, but we are gradually getting ourselves around Victoria and will get there.
I would not have known Kyneton very well except that I worked in Bendigo for two years and travelled through the town every Friday afternoon and early Monday morning. The school was my favourite site, both for its gorgeous bluestone and its Victorian architecture.