Mawson’s Hut and Cob & Co. Post Office Restored

Bimbowrie Conservation Park’s heritage listed buildings are being conserved in a community effort, using traditional stone masonry techniques.

In a collaboration with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and volunteer group Friends of Burra Parks, the project has restored a piece of history.

Bimbowrie Conservation Park is located within the Olary Ranges region of the north-eastern pastoral zone in South Australia.

Wendy Cliff, DEWNR Senior Ranger says the project was initiated to provide an opportunity for the Friends of Burra Parks to be involved in a heritage activity, however, the project attracted volunteers from the Mid North area and beyond.

“We got a fantastic response from the call for volunteers, 17 people in total from Friends of Burra Parks, Friends of Innamincka, Sporting Shooters of SA, Hunting & Conservation Branch, and individuals with a passion for volunteering in our Parks. This project is a great example of how volunteers with different experience can work together outside their ‘usual patch’ to achieve an excellent outcome for themselves and for DEWNR,” Wendy says.

The project focused on the restoration of Mawson’s Hut and the Cobb & Co. post office.

Mawson’s Hut is a shepherd’s hut, from which Sir Douglas Mawson worked for many years while studying the unique geology of the area as Professor of Geology at the University of Adelaide.

In 2011 the roof of Mawson’s Hut was blown off during a severe storm, exposing the building to increasing deterioration.

The post office stands alongside the Cobb & Co. coach house, blacksmith’s shop, an explosives magazine and a long-drop toilet.

It is a significant site which once provided vital services to passing travellers when it was the main transport route from Adelaide to Broken Hill in the Nineteenth Century.

This restoration project was carried out during a week in July with the valuable help of the volunteers, four staff and a contractor specialising in heritage stone restoration.

“The volunteers contributed approximately 700 hours during this project and I was so overwhelmed with their passion and professionalism. I enjoyed working alongside these fantastic people,” Wendy says.

The volunteers were trained in traditional stone masonry techniques by the heritage stone restoration expert and can now apply these techniques to any heritage stone building.

Mick Higgins is a member of the Friends of Burra Parks and says he thoroughly enjoyed volunteering his time for the project.

“It was a brilliant experience and I learnt a lot of new skills within a stunning park setting, amongst great people. I would do it all again,” he says.

Kate Buckley, President of Friends of Innamincka expressed her thanks to Wendy Cliff, Bob Lamb, President of the Friends of Burra Parks and to all the participants; for their ability to share this special opportunity, their exceptional organisational skills and friendship.

“Friends of Innamincka are very grateful for the welcome we received from the Friends of Burra Park. We were immediately incorporated into their group, shared food and conversation, and felt a sense of achievement at the contribution that we made to the restoration of Mawson’s Hut,” she says.

Wendy Cliff says that without volunteers, it would be impossible to achieve such great results with restoration projects.

“I would like to thank all the volunteers and staff who were involved in this project, I am so overwhelmed at the amount of work that was achieved and the efforts put in by all the volunteers. They’re great people and we had some great laughs,” she says.

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