In an old homestead on the Comboyne Plateau a remarkable group of people are making history. Well, not so much making history as preserving it. The old house has been offered to the local community to become the Comboyne Historical Museum, and a dedicated team of volunteers is working to restore the building and grounds in eager anticipation of its grand opening at the end of the year.
I was honoured to be a part of this project on a crisp Saturday morning when I attended a working bee with other community members.
Arriving early, I was warmly greeted by Leonie and Joan who gave me a quick tour before it was time to get to work. I was deployed in the back garden where I helped remove green waste, and tidy up the grounds.
Soon our team was 22 strong working inside and out, and it wasn’t long before huge progress was made. Although the house had been uninhabited for decades kiwi vines, macadamia and pecan trees had persevered through the years and will be apart of the gardens going forward.
In the coming months the inside will feature displays celebrating the area’s dairy and timber heritage, the rear will accomodate a Men’s shed and room for artists in residence.
As I was helping I noticed a large pile of timber waiting to go to the tip. Rosewoods, red cedar, and beeches weathered and splintered by the years. What secrets they must hold? I wondered.
We broke for lunch and enjoyed a sausage sizzle followed by all sorts of delicious cakes and scones. I was warmly welcomed by the townsfolk and heard their stories of how they had made Comboyne their homes.
Then I had an idea. What if I took some of that timber destined for the tip and made something beautiful, something to help tell the story of Comboyne’s timber heritage. So that’s what I did.
Back at the blueberry farm the next day I got to work setting up my mobile workshop in Ernst and Penny’s shed. Strips of timber were milled down to form the sides of a box and then glued together. Each step revealed the richness of the timber and the secrets of its past.
A few days later the work was complete. A miniature box of red cedar and beech that I will present to the museum. Made of timber destined for refuse, once part of the house that it will be displayed within.
Steph and I returned to the museum a week later to meet up with Leonie and Joan, bringing Willow with us. How might a cat help with the museum? I hear you ask. Well, the answer is clearly dusting.
Willow explored the rooms of the old homestead, finding herself in all manner of hiding spots as she investigated the old furniture. Popping her cobweb covered head out of an old dresser it was evident that her services as chief duster cat were necessary.
When travelling it is sometime hard to nurture one’s sense of community when the road is always calling – sometimes it feels like you are merely floating over the top of a town and not truly being a part of it.
The solution to this dilemma is simple. Volunteering with community projects is a great way to meet people and to be a part of something much greater than oneself. To hear their stories and feel the warmth of the community they welcome you into is its own reward.
It was an honour to present the little box to the museum project and to be a part of the homestead’s renewal. We look forward to returning once the museum has opened officially.
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Our time spent helping at the museum and meeting everyone is time we will treasure forever. If you’d like to learn more about the boxes I make and find out how you can get one for yourself you can check them out here. Thanks for joining us on this adventure!