Dubbo Photo News & Dubbo Weekender

Volunteers keeping history alive at Dundullimal Homestead

Toni Ridge, Lyn Campbell, Sally Anderson, Betty Lorimer, Janet Couchman and Pam Fennell are just some of the current Dundullimal Dubbo Support Crew Inc volunteers. In the background is the Dundullimal Homestead and, to the right, part of the sandstone stables can be seen. Photo: Dubbo Photo News Toni Ridge, Lyn Campbell, Sally Anderson, Betty Lorimer, Janet Couchman and Pam Fennell are just some of the current Dundullimal Dubbo Support Crew Inc volunteers. In the background is the Dundullimal Homestead and, to the right, part of the sandstone stables can be seen. Photo: Dubbo Photo News

Believed to be the oldest sophisticated slab house in Australia, the Dundullimal Homestead and its surrounding 10 acres of grounds holds a special place in Dubbo’s history.

The original Homestead and sandstone stables, and the more recent shed and timber church, continue to provide an element of old-world charm to Dubbo’s landscape. They’re appreciated by everyone, from history buffs to school students or people just wanting a pleasant day out.

The current Dundullimal Dubbo Support Crew Inc, colloquially known as ‘The Crew’, as well as past volunteers, those who helped in the handing over of the site to the National Trust and those involved in its restoration, had a celebratory morning tea at Dundullimal on Friday, May 4, to mark 30 years since the site was handed over to the National Trust.

Thanks to the dedicated work of these people, the site was made available to the public for their enjoyment and education, and it is their guardianship that oversees the continued maintenance of the site.

“We currently have about 30 volunteers,” vice-president Lyn Campbell told Dubbo Photo News.

“We have had a lot (of volunteers) over the years and they have always been very dedicated. We have had a lot of very good cooks!

“Most of ‘The Crew’ are National Trust members as well,” she added.

The role of a Crew member is to guide visitors around the site, educate school groups, help with the catering of small functions and maybe do a bit of gardening.

Sally O’Connell was one of the original volunteers and has been helping out at the Homestead since 1988.

“One of my first memories (of Dundullimal) is coming out on the train from the Dubbo Railway Station,” she recalled. “We were all dressed up in costume from the period.”

Sally said that volunteering at Dundullimal is “very rewarding and fun and you do meet some very interesting people.

“I love the old Homestead, we do need to conserve our history,” she added.

Peter Milling said that his wife Toni was “one of the instigators, one of the early ones. She was instrumental in getting the grant for the house and the stables.

“The Palmer family bequeathed the site to the National Trust – they were the last owners,” Mr Milling said.

“The government then engaged Gary Waller for two years to restore the site. He was under the instruction of Clive Lucas, a National Trust architect. He resurrected it into what it is today.”

And what a masterpiece it is!