The View From The End Of The World

The Wild Colonial Boy

is the name of a well known Irish Australian ballad from the early 19th Century, and describes the life and misadventures of an Irish convict settler who eventually runs foul of the law in Castlemaine, a small town in country Victoria.

Not far from there is Ballarat, the first stop on our recent Australian vacation. We were in Ballarat to visit Sovereign Hill, a wonderful living Gold Rush Museum, where old and almost extinct trades and crafts are lovingly preserved, and visitors can see the hardships and and the way of life lived by those early settlers.

W Proctor, Wheelwright & Coach Manufactory. Note the Guinea Fowls bottom right…

For example, where can you go these days to see a wheelwright at work? W Proctor’s facility of course….

Conveniently located right next to the Timber Merchant!

We were there during winter, and it was a cold grey day. Even so, the colour palette is quite different to where we live, and many of the buildings are clad in timber that has been left to weather naturally, as would have been common in the early 19th Century. The combination of Fuji C200 film, and the Zeiss lenses still gave most of my pictures a nice contrasty punch, even if the colours are a bit muted due to the light….

The Wheelwright’s workshop.

The workshop is a fascinating place, especially for someone like me who was a carpenter many moons ago. All the machinery is belt driven as it would have been in the day, although the steam engine has been surreptitiously replaced by an electric one in most of the workshops. The machinery is over 100 years old, and the manufacturing techniques are authentic.

Partly made wheel, vintage belt driven bandsaw on the right.

Photographing these workspaces proved to be a bit of a challenge. They are not well lit, as would have been the case during the period they represent, prior to the availability of electric light. Natural light comes from the windows, and large open doors at the end of the building in this case.

A lot of the work also happens outdoors.

To make life even more interesting, I had only brought with me ISO 200 film, but I did have a spare Contax 139 body as a backup in case of any technical issues….I wanted to shoot using the available light and no flash, which was not going to work at ISO 200.

Some fine looking horse drawn transport.

So, only one thing to do. Load a roll of Fuji C200 in the spare body, and shoot it at ISO400 with the lab pushing one stop in processing. The fast Carl Zeiss Planar 1.7/50 lens was a great help too….

Note to self, in addition to the spare body, always carry some faster film when travelling!

Thanks for visiting!

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3 replies to “The Wild Colonial Boy

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