Visit to Lanyon Homestead

Yesterday I decided to head off and visit a place that had been recommended to me by my auntie and my grandparents so I thought it must be good! I looked up the address-pretty easy really, Tharwa Road, Tharwa and off I went! I’d passed this place on my way to Namadji National Park a few weeks ago so had a pretty good idea of where to go. A sign tells you “Lanyon in 250 metres” and I turned into the dirt road driveway which was in excellent condition.

Cattle and sheep were grazing on fields around as I drove towards the homestead which I couldn’t actually see at that point as it is a fairly long driveway with trees shading it in places bathed in autumn colours of red, gold and orange. Soon I reached the parking area, noticed a few cars were parked there and found a spot very easily. A couple who were in the car behind me asked if I was there for the wedding. I was not, but understood all the cars.

I read an information sign about Lanyon Homestead and set off up a path under more autumn trees to get there. I passed a lamp post, saw a stone saying when Lanyon Homestead was opened to the public, in 1975, read another information sign and saw the wedding party posing for photos. I can understand why people would want to have a wedding here-it is absolutely beautiful.

I saw a grand-looking two storey building with glass windows looking out to the surrounding rural landscape (although it is just 30 minutes away from Canberra, back in the day it would have been quite remote.) I walked up some steps and crossed the great veranda which had overhanging shrubs and pulled open a heavy wooden door. I walked over the threshold. As soon as I had done this I found myself in a grand entrance with fancy tiles on the floor and a detailed ceiling which was very high up with a grand light hanging down. On the walls, were paintings in ornate portraits and there was a vase of flowers. I smelt them and they smelt like spring time.

A lady called Sally asked if she could help me. I walked down the entrance and into the reception room. Around the walls were textiles and information about the two styles in this house-one Victorian when it was built in an English style in the 1800s and the other more modern as it had an extension built on in the 1900s. I paid my $7 adult admission and was given a map and brochure of the homestead. I asked Sally if there were any tours happening and she said she would take me on one.

Sally lead the way through a number of rooms and told me great detail about each of them. My favourite was the parlour-a cosy little room with an open fireplace with a grate in front of it. Before it were two dark red velvet chairs and even a little doll in a little rocking chair with straw. A table and chairs were in the corner, as was a volcano. Apparently this was not a fancy room where they would bring guests, but more of a family room to relax in. The curtains were large and heavy to keep out the cold. Apparently the homestead has heavy stone walls and no central heating which means it is always cool in summer. Also, a fireplace is in nearly every room although they only maintain the one in the parlour at present. This would ensure they were always warm in winter.

I also saw a drawing room with a fancy tea set and fruit cake laid out. This was more of a feminine kind of style with floral fabrics. It was a lot bigger than the parlour and also had a fireplace and a table and chairs. Then there was a kind of business room where the man of the homestead would pay workers’ wages. It had a gun rack on the wall which held whips on teeth-like racks. The chair was square and masculine, as was the pipe and pipe rack. Even the wooden desk looked masculine and it had many compartments all of which locked.

Then Sally led me through to the extension (added in the 1900s in a very different style) but we paused down the corridor. Sally showed me a portrait which is three in one-dogs, a bowl of fruit and a sail boat on a turbulent ocean. It changes depending on where you are standing which I thought was pretty amazing. Then Sally showed me a feminine room added for a man’s wife when she moved in. It was huge compared to another master bedroom I had seen in the Victorian style with a little four poster bed with wooden beams and a wash basin and chamber pot. This larger room was very pink and had a great view out on to the expansive veranda. The upstairs bedrooms were closed and the staircase which led to them actually got moved when they built in the extension but markings on the wall say where it used to be. I thanked Sally for the tour and wandered through the rooms alone one more time before heading to the various outbuildings.

I looked at stables, an old kitchen which the kitchen maid slept in in a little bed in a separate room with very basic furniture. They used fire to cook so the kitchen was kept separate from the homestead because of risk of fire and cooking smells. Then I looked at a dairy and an old race track and tractor shed. Then I ended my day with Prince of Wales tea and scones with jam and cream under some leafy autumn trees outside in the sun. I walked back to my car via the gardens which were expansive. I found a large vegie patch which is still maintained, roses and the pretty white flowers I had found in various vases inside the homestead. Then I drove home.

 

 

 

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