The restoration story
Each time I see it in the Farina streetscape, I realise that although it is a faithful re-creation of the original building (as we know it), it's ambience is 50 years too late, and it looks out of place!
However! If we ignore my previous negative comments, it should be known that I admire the workmanship and achieved finish of this recently completed (to lockup stage) building.
I also find it hard to accept the plethora of signage telling visitors about the old town, sticking up like so many bus shelters. Sure, they're easy to see out in the open, but they detract from just the old buildings and the open space that was the old town.
Small low “location” signage is OK, but more descriptive information is better placed inside the buildings, or inside Patterson's, unseen until the casual visitor does their own exploration.
I'm a firm believer in the “Burra Charter”, where more learned people than us, have laid out what is acceptable, and preferred in an operation like ours. What can be repaired, how it should be repaired or stabilised whilst still maintaining the original appearance and patina.
I believe that we need to transfer our attention back to stabilisation of the original buildings, having first further investigated the optimal method of arresting the insidious salt damp degradation to the building's footings and walls.
Unless we can find a workable method of arresting the salt damp driven erosion of the old buildings, (one that we can afford), then our hard work will be all for nothing.
I understand that a brief explanation of the re-pointing process is given to volunteer groups before they start working on the buildings, however going on what I’ve been told by one particular volunteer, there was only a fairly cursory explanation, and a significant number of factors were either omitted, or their importance was not emphasised. For instance, the need to fill large spaces behind, and between rocks with smaller rocks/chips to minimise the bulk use of mortar (always the weakest link in the chain), and to ensure that when capping, no depressions are left where water can collect and soak down into the wall structure.
In my opinion, the initial process explanation/training should be formalised and broadened to (say) an hour or more, and some cursory printed handouts provided as reminders of the correct procedures and aims of the job. This is particularly necessary if the ratio of qualified personnel to volunteers increases.
On this last note, considerably more care needs to be taken to limit the number of volunteers on site at any one time to:
control both the drain on local resources (water, amenities etc), and to enable site managers to keep a tight rein on work being performed, and ...
that each person involved sticks to the agreed tasks, whilst still being able to enjoy their stay at Farina..
We've spent a significant amount of money on re-building the Patterson house. I have suspicions that still more will be spent in the Kitchen of this building, adding equipment and facilities that are supposedly going to be required to produce an ever increasing range of bakery product.
“In the day”, many of these products were virtually unheard of, and certainly never were baked in the original Farina oven. I ask myself “why would we waste hard to obtain funds on baking inappropriate products, when we need so much more to achieve control over the degradation of our remaining buildings?”
I believe that not only are we moving in the wrong direction in the bakery, but why are we applying for, (and winning) funding to run musical events?
The recent Budel concert may not have cost us much, but neither did it earn much. It provided a bit of fun for a small group of volunteers when they were coopted as “background sound engineers”, however, it didn't seem to progress our restoration work much!
A yet to be determined $5000 concert for next year is, in my humble opinion, unlikely to be a great earner, and would certainly de-focus our attention from the “main game”.
I apologise for being so negative about the state of play, however as I've previously indicated, I believe that our group is rapidly straying from the direction in which our constitution says we should strive.
Rob Fairweather – Ex Farina WebMaster and Historian