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Conserving Willard’s Farm, one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands on Brisbane’s Bayside


AHS is proud of our leading role in preserving Queensland’s heritage for future generations, so we are delighted that Willard’s Farm on Brisbane’s Bayside was recently added to the Queensland Heritage Register.

Willard’s Farm is within the 62-hectare Birkdale Community Precinct (BCP), the largest community project ever delivered by Redland City Council (RCC).

When completed BCP will include 40-hectares of protected conservation land, a Southbank-style public lagoon, and the proposed Redland Whitewater Centre which would become a Brisbane 2032 Olympic venue.

Our team has a long involvement as the project’s heritage consultant. We have developed detailed heritage design and master planning advice, undertaken archaeological excavations and created a Cultural Heritage Handbook for the site.

RCC also commissioned AHS to deliver Conservation Management Plans for Willard’s Farm and the nearby heritage-listed former Second World War Radio Receiving Station. Structures within the Willard’s Farm CMP include the original residence and detached kitchen wing, the milking and cream sheds, the garage, an elevated water tank and a brick cistern.

One of the Redlands’ oldest surviving farms

Willards Farm is one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands and provides a rare, intact example of early phase rural settlement in the region.

The original owner, James Willard, was a pioneer of the region’s European settlement who arrived in Australia in 1858 and started the original phase of construction. James and his brother Edward received timber licenses in 1866 and were active within the area’s timber-getting industry.

This combination of James’ bush carpentry skills and the readily available building material suggests that he is likely to have constructed the farmhouse himself in the 1860s. The farm complex then developed in stages between the 1860s and 1910s as a grouping of dwellings, outbuildings, and associated structures.

A Cultural Heritage Study undertaken in 2018 by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation within a portion of the original Willard’s Farm property found five Aboriginal cultural heritage sites including artefact scatters, isolated stone artefacts and a potential scarred tree.

Further consultation with the Quandamooka representatives identified a potential midden site to the west of the milking shed. While no surface archaeological evidence was located during our team’s inspection of the study area, there is potential for shell midden remains and lithic artefacts to be encountered during future ground disturbance works.

Willard’s Farm looking west from Old Cleveland Road around the 1890s (Kerr 2015)


Bush carpentry techniques

The Willard’s Farm site is an excellent example of a nineteenth century dairy farming complex. The farmhouse, milking shed, cream shed, outbuildings, water tanks, garage and mature trees and gardens all retain a high degree of original integrity.

The core of the house likely comprised of two rooms with an enclosed back verandah and detached kitchen, which are still extant today, and possibly a front verandah. The milking shed and garage are two outbuildings believed to have been constructed around this time.

The original residence is supported on a grid of large, log bearers, half-notched over stumps and adzed square on top to carry pit sawn floor joists and flooring. This shows the use of bush carpentry techniques and is evidence for early construction methods and materials.

The substructure of the kitchen wing is consistent with that of the core of the original house. The kitchen wing is shown in early photographs, although key elements including the timber cladding, cross bracing, and metal roof are likely to be contemporary with the construction of the residential extension in around the 1890s to 1910s.

The milking shed is likely to have been part of the original phase and includes an eastern wall of original vertical timber slabs with square adzed top and bottom plates. The retention of the milking bails, including the battens with pegs for keeping cow’s heads in place, contribute to the structure’s high level of integrity.

The cistern directly south of the kitchen wing is constructed using a combination of mechanically moulded and low fired, hand moulded bricks. This is likely to pre-date the availability of more inexpensive systems, such as corrugated metal tanks, from the late nineteenth century onwards.

Early twentieth century photo showing the west side of Willard’s Farm looking southeast (CHC 2016)


Listed on the Queensland Heritage Register

The original Willard’s Farm buildings constructed from around the 1860s onwards demonstrate the bush carpentry construction techniques and locally sourced materials of the period. The milking shed also shows the evolution of the region’s dairy farming practices.

Over the decades the original buildings have been extended, showing evidence of changes over time to local building techniques and materials.

The CMP created by AHS included a recommendation that the site be re-nominated for entry onto the Queensland Heritage Register. It is gratifying that this nomination has now occurred and been accepted.

The AHS team congratulates RCC on successfully protecting the partly derelict Willard’s Farm site, ensuring it can be appreciated by future generations as part of the exciting BCP project.

Contact us

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

Eastern elevation of the original Willard’s Farm residence (Queensland Government)

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The Challenge

Willards Farm is one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands and provides a rare, intact example of early phase rural settlement in the region.

The original owner, James Willard, was a pioneer of the region’s European settlement who arrived in Australia in 1858 and started the original phase of construction. James and his brother Edward received timber licenses in 1866 and were active within the area’s timber-getting industry.

This combination of James’ bush carpentry skills and the readily available building material suggests that he is likely to have constructed the farmhouse himself in the 1860s. The farm complex then developed in stages between the 1860s and 1910s as a grouping of dwellings, outbuildings, and associated structures.

A Cultural Heritage Study undertaken in 2018 by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation within a portion of the original Willard’s Farm property found five Aboriginal cultural heritage sites including artefact scatters, isolated stone artefacts and a potential scarred tree.

Further consultation with the Quandamooka representatives identified a potential midden site to the west of the milking shed. While no surface archaeological evidence was located during our team’s inspection of the study area, there is potential for shell midden remains and lithic artefacts to be encountered during future ground disturbance works.



How we helped

The Willard’s Farm site is an excellent example of a nineteenth century dairy farming complex. The farmhouse, milking shed, cream shed, outbuildings, water tanks, garage and mature trees and gardens all retain a high degree of original integrity.

The core of the house likely comprised of two rooms with an enclosed back verandah and detached kitchen, which are still extant today, and possibly a front verandah. The milking shed and garage are two outbuildings believed to have been constructed around this time.

The original residence is supported on a grid of large, log bearers, half-notched over stumps and adzed square on top to carry pit sawn floor joists and flooring. This shows the use of bush carpentry techniques and is evidence for early construction methods and materials.

The substructure of the kitchen wing is consistent with that of the core of the original house. The kitchen wing is shown in early photographs, although key elements including the timber cladding, cross bracing, and metal roof are likely to be contemporary with the construction of the residential extension in around the 1890s to 1910s.

The milking shed is likely to have been part of the original phase and includes an eastern wall of original vertical timber slabs with square adzed top and bottom plates. The retention of the milking bails, including the battens with pegs for keeping cow’s heads in place, contribute to the structure’s high level of integrity.

The cistern directly south of the kitchen wing is constructed using a combination of mechanically moulded and low fired, hand moulded bricks. This is likely to pre-date the availability of more inexpensive systems, such as corrugated metal tanks, from the late nineteenth century onwards.

Results

The original Willard’s Farm buildings constructed from around the 1860s onwards demonstrate the bush carpentry construction techniques and locally sourced materials of the period. The milking shed also shows the evolution of the region’s dairy farming practices.

Over the decades the original buildings have been extended, showing evidence of changes over time to local building techniques and materials.

The CMP created by AHS included a recommendation that the site be re-nominated for entry onto the Queensland Heritage Register. It is gratifying that this nomination has now occurred and been accepted.

The AHS team congratulates RCC on successfully protecting the partly derelict Willard’s Farm site, ensuring it can be appreciated by future generations as part of the exciting BCP project.

Contact us

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

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Extensive war history unearthed at Milman Hill Complex on Thursday Island

Case Study

AHS ensures cultural preservation of the Mt Coot-tha Kiosk and Lookout, unearthing a rich history at one of Brisbane’s premiere vantage points

Case Study

AHS helps to record and conserve Bega’s network of historic granite kerbs and gutters for our client Bega Valley Shire Council

Case Study

AHS delivered a Conservation Management Plan for the State heritage listed former Cairns Masonic Temple

Case Study

Delivering heritage services including an Archival Recording at the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building

Case Study

AHS projects with Cairns Regional Council include a CMP for Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers

Case Study

AHS uncovers a lengthy historical legal challenge while researching the William Mitchner Shelter

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AHS helps visitors experience the history of Cairns Court House

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AHS helps to conserve the Mount Morgan Coronation Lamp and Boer War Memorial

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Discovering the evolution of Queensland ambulance services at Charters Towers

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AHS helps preserve one of Buderim Mountain’s oldest surviving houses

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Rediscovering a heritage home’s socialite past in New Farm

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