The remains of a wedgetail eagle and the bones of a boar dot The Common where butterflies rise and ironbarks regenerate. Talk of an endangered purple pea piques my interest and I recognise the gold-digging churn of the land. It looks so familiar to where I live now – another recovering landscape from gold rush times. And I think of the stories my granny told of family members finding gold in their backyards. They lived near the legendary Potato Patch field with its tales of alluvial gold dug up like lumps of potatoes. That is all now under Burrendong Dam.
I am taken by the meat safe in one of the rows of the open-air museum. It’s like a funny character to me and kind of out of place with all the rusting farm equipment. Inside in Boehmes Hall is another clutter of domestic helpers from the past. I like some of the newer additions too, signalling the ongoing use of this place – like the turquoise chairs stacked waiting for the next meeting. I snap a picture of a mixmaster, who has done their duty – no doubt many Country Women’s Association cakes came through their beaters.
We skirt around a derelict house, with its dilapidated outdoor dunny and mound of cement encased bottles. An upside-down sign with ‘the skin club’ adds to our unsettling.
Thinking about this sign, I think of the ghost signs in town too - like the one atop what was once Yee Lee’s General Store.
Today there is more local cheer from Marian at the café, Janet popping through from the Post Office next door, and the sunset from the Nunnery – many thanks to Tom for the tour and hospitality.
And two little paintings are now on the easel as well – the portrait of the fan and of the light down the hall.
The Ironbark Arts Residency Program is co-produced by Orana Arts Inc and the STAA.