Historic houses around Braidwood threw open their gates on the weekend to raise money for Braidwood non-for-profit preschool. The event, with associated activities, raised $17,000 for the preschool, and was attended by locals and visitors from further afield.
Millpond Farm, which was one of the seven gardens open to the public, including Durham Hall, Bedervale, Linden and Deua Tin Huts, is owned by Antony Davies and Andrew Gow, who have made it their mission to rescue Jembaicumbene’s historic flour mill.
Located 10km south-west of Braidwood along Majors Creek Road, it was built by entrepreneur Charles Dransfield who made his fortune growing wheat and selling gold leases in the 1850s.
But prolonged drought conditions devastated the regular wheat supplies of the then 1200-acre property and the mill was closed for business, its steam engine and fittings dismantled and sold to make ends meet.
Today the mill is the impressive centrepiece of Millpond Farm, having been faithfully restored to its former glory by the couple who spent years researching the mill, the property's farmhouse and outbuildings before painstakingly restoring each to their original state.
Their attention to detail means it's easy to assume the impressive house, 1840s timber wagon barn and four-storey mill have all been immaculately maintained since Dransfield first set about growing his empire.
But Andrew and Antony – an antiques dealer and valuer whose passions include restoring vintage cars and horse-drawn vehicles – say it has been a labour of love.
Eight years of hard graft have gone into replicating every detail, from the Gothic-revival bargeboards on the farmhouse to the mill's timber sash windows, which the couple had made by Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania to match the only one left intact.
The couple are working with friends to rehabilitate a 25-acre wetland on the property and planting has begun to create an arboretum with 25,000 specimens.
The weekend’s festivities included a vintage car display, by Braidwood’s two vintage car clubs.
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