Description : This was a two year project involving the complete restoration of an 1840s, T shaped, slab hut homestead as part of the National Trust's Bicentennial grants program. Having suffered flooding and years of abandonment the house was in a very poor condition. It had been used as a squatter residence for many of its early years and later on, had also functioned as a barn until 1985. A specialist team of professionals, including heritage builder Gary Waller, masterfully restored the house and stables to their original state.
Key challenges : This was one of our most difficult projects due to its extreme archaeologically sensitive nature. Everything at the site was recorded and tagged and our initial priority was to prop and stabilise the very fragile key joints so as to steady the building. The homestead is a split-slab structure, constructed using dove-tail joints. There had been a lot of termite damage and the structure was very weak, requiring much splice and patch repair work.
The roof was a particularly interesting part of the job. Using a froe and maul, we hand-split shakes from Iron Bark to re-roof the homestead. There were shotgun bullet marks in the roof as a result of hunting. These were soldered and the corrugated galvanised iron roof was fully repaired and relaid over the shingles, thus preserving the history of works to the building's roof.
The stables, which lay opposite the house, were also in a state of disrepair. Parts of the stone walls had collapsed and we methodically laid out, catalogued and worked out where each piece belonged. This was a time and labour intensive process but we were successful in identifying the original locations of the stones and in rebuilding the walls in their original position.
The architect provided instructions for traditional lime slaking and we hand-mixed lime wash paint on site. The exterior was painted using this technique and the interior was painted using distemper, a kind of traditional paint made from animal glue, pigment and oils. Following two years of work, the Dundullimal homestead had been fully restored to its original condition. Today, it is open to the public as a museum and is a popular destination for school groups.
Completed : 1986