In the Addie today is great uews for a revival of usefulness for the old Paper Mill at Fyansford above Buckley's Falls.
FYANSFORD’s old paper mills could be transformed into an arts
precinct with a function centre and low-density housing.
The heritage-listed network of buildings are already used by a
collection of businesses ranging from wire-woven heritage-style fencing to
Touring the site ahead of the public open day on Saturday, owner
Alex Robins revealed he’d been talking to the council about his plan for a
boutique hotel, main hall wedding and conference venue or restaurant and a
strip of housing on either end.
“History belongs to everyone not just the person who owns the
building,” Mr Robins said.
“Whatever happens it’s got to be done sympathetically.”
Mr Robins said he’d owned the State’s third paper mill for the past
15 years and was in no rush to develop, but with sewerage and infrastructure
now connected, the timing was right.
In the meantime, Mr Robins has worked to protect the bluestone
buildings, cleared 250 tonnes of hard rubbish from the river banks and
constructed walking trails.
“I’m not panicked but (starting) in the next 12-18 months would be
nice because the momentum has started now,” he said.
“We want to keep the history and structurally it’s very sound with
solid rock foundations.”
Mr Robins estimated the main mill building would take 12-18 months
to restore while art tenants continued to restore their own studio spaces.
He said the site would be transformed in four stages, the last of
which would be the residential element.
Ubu Gallery owner Marcus Johnson, who has arranged the family open
day, said the mill site — built in 1878 — was a hidden gem.
His gallery inside one of the bluestone buildings will also
celebrate its opening night on Saturday.
“Everyone who’s seen (Mr Robins’ plans) has said it’s a great idea,
it will drive the revival of Geelong,” Mr Johnson said.
“I saw (the gallery space) and thought ‘I don’t know what I want to
do with it but I want it.
“I’ve fallen in love with Geelong and there’s no way I could do this
“For me it’s a privilege to be here.”
Mr Johnson said hundreds of people had already joined the event’s
Facebook page and he was hoping it would get people sharing their memories and
old photos of the site.
The mill site on 100 Lower Paper Mills Rd will be open between
10am-3pm. Entry is free and picnics are welcomed.
from the Barwon Blog SATURDAY,
JULY 2, 2011
From Rags to Riches or Just Milling Around?
Nor was wheat-milling the only industry to spring up
along the banks of the Barwon. In 1876 as I mentioned in my previous post, a
paper mill was in the process of construction on the north bank of the river at
On the opposite side of the river from the old wheat
mill, this new enterprise - the Barwon Paper Mill - drew its power from a
channel running along the northern bank from Baum's Weir to the mill buildings
below the Bunyip Pool at Buckley Falls. Unlike the wheat mill on the south
bank, the paper mill and the complex of buildings which were associated with
it, are still remarkably intact and as such are one of the most
significant surviving examples of 19th century industry in the country. It
is also one of the earliest and longest running examples of paper-milling in
Australia and was operational until 1923.
At the time of its opening, the complex was at the forefront of paper-making
technology and its backers included such notable Geelong names as Silas Harding,
James and Andrew Volum and William Francis Ducker.
The mill buildings themselves were constructed from bricks and locally quarried
bluestone with corrugated iron and the equipment was powered by a water
turbine wheel whose performance was enhanced by an impeller housed in a tower
which can still be seen facing onto the river. Likewise, the water race is
clearly visible carrying water from the weir along its full length until it
reaches the mill where in times of adequate supply, it tumbles down to the
rocks below and back into the river.
These mill buildings and their associated machinery
were designed and built by the engineer Andrew Millar. The six workers'
cottages and manager's house which also form part of the complex were designed
by the Geelong architect Joseph Watts a couple of years after the original
buildings in 1878. The cottages are the earliest example of company housing to
be built in this state. They are still occupied as private residences and if
the noises I heard last week are anything to go by, at least one is currently being
Originally, they were used to house some of the 200 men whom it is estimated,
worked in the mill, making over 40 different types of paper.
Unlike today, paper-making processes in the Victorian era - and for 2000 years
beforehand - relied on the pulping of old rags, rather than that of wood fibres
and the Barwon Paper Mill was no different in this respect. The rags went
through a number of treatments designed to break the fibres into small enough
pieces to be formed into paper.
An curious side effect of using rags, was the need to first remove
any old buttons or fastenings which may still be attached to the cloth. This
task was undertaken by women whose job it was to sit and remove the
unwanted attachments. Once removed, the buttons were simply dumped in a pile
near the mill site. It was this practise which gave rise to the name Button
Hill for the land which rises to the east of the mill. According to
descriptions by the Victorian Heritage Database, there are hundreds of
thousands of buttons, beads and other clips and fastenings on the hill
made from bone, ceramic, glass, metal and other substances. The
site is located partially on private property which does not
belong to the mill and currently still awaits comprehensive
In 1888, upon the death of Captain James Volum,
on of the principal proprietors, the partnership dissolved and the
complex was sold to the Victorian Paper Manufacturing Co Pty Ltd
who in turn on-sold it in 1895 to the owners of two other paper mills in Melbourne
and Broadford. The three mills were then run jointly under the name of the
Australian Paper Mills Co Ltd.
After paper production ceased, the
complex was taken over for the manufacturing of ice before being commandeered
in 1941 for use by the navy during World War II. Nowadays, the mill is
privately owned and whilst no longer used for its original purpose, the
buildings are utilised by a number of small businesses which operate out of the
site. Unfortunately for those of us who are interested, this has the
disadvantage of excluding access by the general public to the mill
complex. So, for the present we will have to continue as I have done for
several decades now, to view the mill from the south bank of the river.