Woolshed at Dunlop Station to be restored

Woolshed at Dunlop Station to be restored

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Kim Chandler in front of the woolshed to be restored on Dunlop Station, Louth. Photo: Kim Chandler

Kim Chandler in front of the woolshed to be restored on Dunlop Station, Louth. Photo: Kim Chandler

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The history of Dunlop Station is entwined with the history of the wool industry

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When Kim Chandler purchased Dunlop Station on the Darling River near Louth, ten years ago she had little knowledge of the historical significance of the property.

The only female on the family farm near Walgett, and knowing she wasn't in a position to take it over, Mrs Chandler struck out on her own when she bought the 881haproperty to run Merino sheep.

"I didn't realise the importance of the place until I started to look around the old buildings and shearing shed and started asking questions," she said.

"It was only when I understood its significance in the history of the Australian Merino and in particular under the ownership of Samuel McCaughey I thought I should try and do something about restoring the buildings."

As background, Dunlop Station, with its eastern frontage to the Darling River and the adjacent Toorale, formed a huge pastoral enterprise for McCaughey where, during the heyday of the western pastoral leases he shore upwards of 150,000 Merino sheep on its 400,00ha rangelands.

The first mechanical shearing was conducted on Dunlop Station in 1888 when 184,000 sheep were shorn.

Today, the property is only 881-hectare (2177 acres) homestead block, but that doesn't mean Mrs Chandler is content to sit back and watch her possessions disintegrate.

Knowing of the keen interest from so many to get of the beaten track and really explore and enjoy the outback, she has plans to revitalize the property as a tourist destination in conjunction with her Merino flock.

Those sheep are trucked to a neighbour's shearing shed for their annual shearing: but Mrs Chandler plans to be able to use the old McCaughey-built woolshed soon once it has been restored.

It will be a tremendous undertaking, and the original 45 stands obviously wont be used - but visitors will be able to experience the thrill of watching sheep shorn in an historic shed in the not-too-distant-future.

Ms Chandler has connected with People Helping People Australia (PHP) a not-for-profit organisation established to assist people living in ravaged communities improve their sustainability, resilience and self-worth.

Spokesperson Bill Wallace explained that PHP has a team of skilled volunteers ready to fix, mend, build and repair based upon the needs of the community.

"Our skilled volunteers will work with the community to complete projects that will provide social and economic outcomes," he said.

One of those projects earmarked for assistance is the restoration of the historic buildings built during the 1880's on Dunlop Station and including the woolshed, store shed and blacksmiths workshop.

Mr Wallace said the PHP team will be going to Dunlop Station in June.

"Our aim with this project it restore Dunlop Station and to return this significant historical station back to its former glory," he said.

"This work will add value to the local community and play a vital role in the future of Louth and its sustainability.

"This will bring tourists into the community and be beneficial to Louth and surrounding towns."

Mr Wallace said the historic station has been severely affected by drought over the last decade along with the social restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The restoration will entice tourists to visit the station and Louth and in turn pump dollars into the community."

That sentiment was confirmed by the federal member for Parkes, Mark Coulton.

"The project will deliver a vibrant and attractive tourism destination which will enhance the appeal and meet the public's expectation," he said.

The state member for Barwon, Roy Butler was also a keen advocate of the project.

"In tough times of drought and COVID-19 many small communities have suffered and need something to bring back business, employment and money to these small communities," he said.

"What better way than tourism.

"It is not only great to see the history of this project being restored but the wealth it will bring to these small communities."

The president of the Louth Turf Club, Jim Strachan welcomed the project to restore the historical precinct on Dunlop Station.

"I think what you plan to do at Dunlop is a wonderful idea and will certainly enhance tourism and visitors to our area," he said.

"Dunlop Station is an iconic and very well known pastoral property steeped with a rich history in the Australian wool and pastoral industries and it will be a huge bonus for our local area."

The first stage of the restoration of the buildings on Dunlop Station is planned for completion by August and just in time for the annual Louth Picnic Race meeting.

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