If you walk the 9kms long Settlers Track in Namadgi National Park, which I strongly encourage you to do, you will encounter three old, restored dwellings along the way – Brayshaws Hut, Waterhole Hut and Westerman’s Homestead. This review is on Westerman’s Homestead located just over 7kms from the start of the walk if you follow the loop walk in an anticlockwise direction, as recommended.
The is actually the third homestead of the Westerman family built at this location, the first being a mud brick house built in the 1880s and the second being a larger wooden structure (Lons Vale Homestead) which was demolished in 1936.
The third house, a five room home of scallped bargeboards with a galavanised iron roof, was built in 1916. Internally the walls are all clad and there are two fireplaces, hence the two stone chimneys. The frilly lace curtains on the windows and the pictures of the Mary and Thomas Westerman, early inhabitants of the cottage, on either side of the main fire place bring a personal touch to the cottage.
A further thing you will notice is that the rooms, well all except one, have wooden ceilings. The remaining room, the main bedroom, had a wooden ceiling until 1922 when the ceiling boards were removed to make a coffin for Elizabeth Shiels (nee Westerman) who died that year of tuberculosis, aged 46. The ceiling boards were replaced with an oiled calico substitute, remnants of which can still be seen on the rear wall of the bedroom.
The home made coffin was necessary as the river was flooded at the time of Elizabeth’s death. This also explains the fact that Elizabeth is buried in a grave about 200 metres away, on the slope behind the house, it being impossible to transport her body across the river to the cemetery in Adaminaby.
Also buried in the same burial plot is Elizabeth’s brother who died, an unnamed infant, in 1886. It was not uncommon for stillbirths or infants to be buried on remote properties at the time. Both burials provide a stark reminder of what it was like living and dying in such an isolated place.
Also in the grounds of the property you can see an old sheep dip and a bank of exotic trees (poplars, pines and willows) planted to remind the settlers of their homelands in Europe.
The bank of trees I found especially beautiful perhaps because they also reminded me of my own European homeland.
Address: Bobeyan Road
Directions: On Settlers Track Walk
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on Namadgi National Park. To continue with my next entry chick HERE.