Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Monday, 16 February 2009


Yesterday we joined a convoy of Mazda MX5s on a run out to Jimbour station. It was a great day, combining the enjoyment of driving the MX5, exploring the fascinating heritage listed site, a great lunch, and some good company.
It was overcast, which made the driving very pleasant, as "top down" is de rigueur for these runs – only a wimp would drive under a roof, even if it is made of vinyl.

Jimbour House was built in 1877 for a cost of $30000 from materials sourced locally. The timber came from the Bunya Mountains, and the slate and stone from a quarry less than 10k away.

It is an astonishing building, with a grandeur which seems strangely out of place in the rural environment. I could see it in a big city, or more fittingly somewhere in Europe, but it must have been the centre of a dignified and lavish lifestyle in its heyday.
Money and power in the colony at the time was carried on the sheep's back, and the families who worked this beautiful country were the movers and shakers of their day.

The house itself would have been a haven from the elements with walls over a foot thick, and it was heated and lit by gas generated from a nearby coal seam.
The whole setup was self-supporting, with a "kitchen garden", extensive stables, and later a sealed airstrip. The airstrip was in use yesterday when a party of sightseers flew in from Archerfield in a beautiful Mooney M20J.

There is a church on site, still in use, and featuring a projection box in the rear near a belfry. As far as I know, it's the only chapel in the country which doubles as a cinema.

The Russell family, who still work the property, were pioneers in the use of aircraft to defeat the tyranny of time and distance presented by poor roads and the Blacksoil country.
There is a large hangar on the property housing at least one aircraft – a Beech Baron, from what I could see through the crack in the locked roller doors. (When I say "roller doors", I mean heavy doors sliding sideways on rollers – just like in the movies – not your woosy domestic variety). Lunch was great, and being able to eat it in the deep shade of some large Jacarandas was very pleasant. They also make their own wines, and their 2003 Shiraz is excellent. Unfortunately, I was unable to partake because I was driving. I was forced to buy a bottle or two to take home to remember the day by.

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