A small, rare part of Tasmania's
bush heritage has been reconstructed thanks to an owner interested in history
and heritage tourism.
When Ros and Jeff Wallace bought
their property on the outskirts of St Mary's on the east coast of Tasmania, they had little understanding of the previous role of a small,
timber structure on the edge of the property.
The structure was is a
slab slaughter house built in the early 20th century
for the slaughtering of animals. That the wooden structure remained upright
until its recent collapse is testimony to the innovation, skill and
craftsmanship of men working in the bush.
“When I first saw the ruined shed
in danger of collapsing, I found it difficult to guess at its original function
and I couldn't see the point of propping it up. However I slowly warmed to the
idea of an authentic reconstruction," said Ms Wallace.
Ros sought advice from Heritage
Tasmania and with the help of Parks and Wildlife Services, was introduced to
Ian Hayes, founding member of Tasmania's Mountain Huts Preservation Society.
“As soon as I saw the photos of
the structure I was in love with it. I do this work for the personal challenge
and for owners who are similarly passionate. If the owners reflect the
enjoyment of what is achieved, that is the icing on the cake," said Mr
Constructed by saw and axe from
local bush materials, slabs split from large tree trunks, the frame of the
structure was fashioned from bush poles, the walls enclosed with split timber
slabs and lined internally with sheets of flat tin. The roof was framed
entirely with bush poles and split timber battens, then clad with approximately
1500 shingles. Perhaps the most interesting feature was a pole supported in the
forked tops of king posts centrally located at each end of the building. This
pole, complete with original tackle served as a windlass for raising carcases.
A rudimentary concrete floor forms the basis of the processing area. On the
southern side was a wide opening perhaps used for bringing a vehicle in to
load dressed carcasses, and a narrower doorway on the north-western corner
alongside the remnants of a post and rail fence that may have been a
cattle race or corralling yard to bring beasts into the shed.
Work on the reconstruction was
well underway when first reported in a Heritage-news bulletin in 2019. Last year the works were completed.
Ros is understandably proud of
the work completed. “All the credit must go to Ian Hayes and Jeff, who learnt
many new skills along the way. Working together they have created something
quite amazing. I have also learnt a great deal about this structure and its
function. Now when I tell visitor and tourists its history, there is so much
more meaning to the story.”
Ian Hayes is justifiably proud of
the finished structure. “Yes, I do feel proud of the finished article. I am a
quiet achiever and a simple thank you is all it takes, the sense of achievement
is mine to keep. The stand out good feeling for me is when I compare the circa 1985
photo taken of the structure by the late Frank Bolt, and my photo taken in September
2020. They both look remarkably similar. However when I was introduced to the
scene the structure was collapsed.
“I would like to thank Ros and
Jeff for their hospitality and enthusiasm during this journey, it was a team
effort that included a good friend of mine, Glen Bakes and
supportive/encouraging emails from Ian Boersma (Heritage Tasmania) and Peter
Rigozzi (Parks and Wildlife Service). I regularly updated
Ian and Peter on my progress to ensure I remained on track and was satisfying particular
aspects within heritage guidelines. Once the original forked king posts were
safely hoisted into position I knew I was on the home run.
For images of the reconstruction,
click here and here. And next time you are heading to St Mary's take a detour to see the completed structure.