When I’m not making furniture, I love to go searching for old barns, wharfs and timber structures. It's often the timber I use in my own custom furniture. You really never know what you’ll find, who you’ll meet or what will inspire you.
Last year in April I rode a motorbike around Australia with 3 mates (16,000kms in 50 days). On day 2 we rode between Tuross Heads and Victoria and I saw this majestic barn that I knew one day I’d return to.
Last week was that day - I did a motorbike ride from Sydney - Moruya - Jindabyne - Wagga Wagga - Home. It was a short 4 day adventure - an opportunity to ride with some mates and go exploring this beautiful state of ours.
On day 2, about 25kms south of Moruya, on the south coast, I came around this beautiful sweeping bend and saw this beautiful sight down the road - the large old timber barn perched up on a hill overlooking dairy farm countryside below. It was just as I remembered it 12 months earlier.
This barn is a sight to behold. At a guess I’d say it’s 40m long x 10 wide x 8m high. It’s disheveled but it oozes character.
The barn was built in the 1890’s and operated as a cheese factory. It resides in the Bodalla region in an area called Trunketabella. This is beautiful dairy farm country bordered by forest. To the west is the Dampier State Forest, to the East is the Bodalla State Forest. Bodalla itself is a small town in New South Wales, known for its dairy industry and cheese production. The town has a rich history of cheese-making, dating back to the late 19th century.
I’m unsure when the barn became inoperable but it was clearly left unused for many years until the current owner decided to rescue it - an ambitious local farmer.
Befitting the barn are the characters who live there. An old ragged 1 eared dog, a very friendly hard working old farmer and his adult son. The family (dairy farmers) grew up in the area and when they heard this property was up for sale, snapped it up with the sole mission to rescue and restore it.
They're not trained carpenters or joiners, but craftsman like myself, who appreciate history, restoration, and sustainability. They simply didn't want to see this beautiful old barn become forgotten in their lifetime.
The structure has great bones and at a time past would have been an incredible sight inside with timber cladding on the walls and ceiling (see pictures below). Restoration has begun by adding new piers and framing but there's a long way to go to make it inhabitable again.
But what an incredibly fulfilling project to be a part of and legacy to leave.
In its current state it looks like a big gust of wind could bring it to the ground ready for a bonfire. But it has remained standing for more than 130 years so far and when these craftsman are finished with it I have no doubt it will last another 130 years.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one and hope to take my tools down there at some stage and give them a hand.
If you’re in the area and have any spare hardwood, time, building hardware or expertise that you’re happy to part with, then I am sure these guys would welcome it.
And if you’re travelling through, keep your eye out - it’s definitely worth a visit or at the very least, a photograph or two.
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