Balala Station: one of the original slab hut homesteads subsequently extended. This is the sixth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture.
Previous post: Grand designs for early Northern NSW homes
While the first mansions such as Dalwood House or Lake Innes House were emerging in the Hunter or at Port Macquarie, the first slab huts now being built on the
by the European occupiers remained rough structures, quickly constructed to
provide shelter and a base.
This was a male society in which comfort ranked second to the basic necessities of shelter. Even then, there were some who wanted more.
James Macdonald was one such. Crown
A sometimes melancholy and in the end tragic poet, Macdonald was a neat man whose sensibilities demanded order and a degree of comfort. When in March 1843 a party travelled up from the civilisation of Port Macquarie to attend the Armidale races, one of the party (Mrs Annie Baxter) expressed surprise at the Commissioner’s hut. While small and badly finished, it was well and tastefully furnished.
As women and then children arrived over the first decade after occupation, more was required. In some cases, the original homestead was extended or incorporated into new structures.
At Balala south of Uralla, the original homestead built by George Morse and Thomas Toule in 1841 became part of a complex around a courtyard. On one side was a slab schoolroom and bedroom, on the other bedrooms built in part of basalt and granite.
In other cases, new buildings were constructed. On
Ohio outside Walcha, Abraham and Mary
Nivison purchased the run
outside Walcha in 1842 and moved into the original slab homestead standing on
the property. Nivison wanted a better home for his family and began
construction of a new homestead. Ohio
The first stage was finished in 1845. It included four bedrooms, a hipped roof structure and chimneys in every room and was built of stone rubble and covered with a lime mortar render. The design and construction method drew in part from Dumfriesshire in
Abraham and Mary were born. Scotland
With increasing prosperity, the homestead was renovated in the 1850s. A new kitchen and store were added, while the roof was raised to accommodate a loft. Six dormer windows were installed which remain a distinctive feature of the home’s appearance today. .
To my knowledge, dormer windows are not a feature of colonial
New England architecture.
I can’t help wondering, I don’t know, whether or not ’s windows influenced the later design
of Armidale’s Mallam House. Ohio
I will continue this story next week looking at what was, in may ways, the golden age of New England homestead and construction design.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 11 October 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.