Small village north-west of Melbourne
Smeaton is a small village which came into existence when Captain John Hepburn too up 20,000 acres in the 1840s and drove sheep and cattle to the area from New South Wales. During the 1860s it prospered and a handsome mill, which still stands and is beautifully preserved, was built in the town. Today the town's attractions are restricted to the mill (which opens a few times a year) and the Tuki trout farm and rural retreat which lies 10 km north of the village.
Smeaton is located 133 km north-west of Melbourne via the western freeway.^ TOP
Origin of Name
The pastoralist John Stuart Hepburn, a retired ship's captain, who settled in the area in 1838, named his property the Smeaton Hill Run after an estate east of Edinburgh, Scotland.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Located on the banks of Birch's Creek (access is by Alice Street off the Creswick-Newstead Road) and across a blue stone bridge (1892), Anderson's Mill is a 19th century industrial complex which includes a beautifully preserved four-storey bluestone flour mill which is possibly the largest flour mill ever built in Victoria. It is generally agreed that it is the most perfectly preserved mill in Australia. The flour mill includes a 25 tonne waterwheel which is 8.5metre across, and a 23 metre tall brick chimney. Outbuildings include a bluestone office, stables, a granary, a residence and a blacksmith's shop.
The complex was built in the early 1860s by the Anderson family who had made a fortune on the Victorian goldfields. When wheat production shifted to the north-west the mill was refitted for oatmeal and continued to function until 1957. The complex still stands near the creek which once drove the mill.
The Victorian Heritage Council articulates its historic, architectural and scientific significance as follows: "The Andersons Mill Complex is of historical significance as highly intact and representative example of a rural industrial landscape associated with the early period of wheat growing activity in Victoria up until the mid-1870. Flour mills were an important component of the relatively self generating local economies which operated in the agricultural districts of Victoria in this period ... [it] is of historical significance as a product of the development in a goldfields economy, in which money made from gold mining and associated industries such as timber milling was invested locally in other industries such as flour milling. The scale and finish of the mill and office indicate the confidence of the Andersons in this endeavour. [It] is of historical significance as a rural industrial complex which has been in continuous occupation and use by the same family since the 1860s. The buildings and structures are indicative of the transference of the Andersons' experience of building and industrial practices in Scotland. The different processes employed at the mill also demonstrate the capacity of the owners to adapt to changing circumstances over close to one hundred years.
"[It] is of architectural significance as a fine example of a large scale industrial structure displaying the simple unadorned materials, symmetrical arrangement and harmonious proportions of the Georgian style.
"The Andersons Mill Complex is of scientific (technical) significance as a rare and highly intact water powered nineteenth century flour mill. The waterwheel and the water turbine provide outstanding opportunities to demonstrate how water power was used in the nineteenth century. The Andersons Mill Complex is of scientific (technical) significance for its capacity to demonstrate the technical aspects of the oat milling process.
"The water wheel is of scientific (technical) significance as a product of the Victoria Foundry at Ballarat during its most active period. It clearly demonstrates the manufacturing capabilities and levels of craftsmanship attained by the foundry no more than five years after it was established. The wooden patterns from which the wheel's components were cast have survived and illustrate the way in which the wheel was manufactured." Check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/2366 for greater detail. Check http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/andersons-mill,-smeaton-h.a. for the intermittent opening times.
Located 4 km north of the town at 118 Estate Lane, Smeaton House is one of Victoria's earliest substantial homesteads. This two-storey stuccoed brick Regency mansion was designed by noted colonial architect John Gill and built in 1849-50 for John Hepburn. He now lies in the small private family cemetery nearby which is fenced and surrounded by trees.
The home is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register which records that: "Smeaton House is a two storey symmetrical house in a colonial Georgian style, with a large cellar and two parallel single storey service wings at the rear, enclosing a service court. The house is of brick, covered with lime plaster, on bluestone footings. It has a hipped roof, originally covered with shingles, but later replaced by slate, probably in about 1860. There are pairs of sash windows on the ground floor on each side of the central entrance, and five across the first floor, a fan-lit front door, and a single storey timber verandah across the front and two sides, and between the service wings at the rear. The front and side facades of the upper storey are decorated with recessed panels between the windows. There is a particularly fine rectangular stable block at the rear of the house, which includes groom's quarters at one end, consisting of two small rooms one above the other."
Smeaton House is privately owned but can seen, partly hidden by trees, from the roadside. To get there head north out of town on the main road (to Castlemaine) and take the first right into Estates Lane. Check out http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/1026/download-report for more details.
Tuki Trout Fishing and Farming Complex
Located 10 km north of town is the Tuki Trout Fishing and Farming Complex where you can catch your own fish and have it cooked and prepared. The farm, which before 1985 bred Tukidale sheep (hence the name) was established in the 1850s. The modern resort was established in 1993 when stone cottages were built. The Tuki Trout Farm Fishing guarantees that everyone catches a trout which can be taken home or cooked on the spot and eaten in the restaurant. For more information tel: (03) 5345 6233 or check http://tuki.com.au.
* Prior to white settlement the area was inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba people. * Prior to white settlement the area was inhabited by the Dja dja warrung Aboriginal people.
* John Hepburn settled in the area in 1838. He built one of the state's earliest substantial country homes At Smeaton Hill Run.
* By the 1840s Hepburn had built a flour mill near his property.
* Smeaton House was built in 1849.
* Some gold was found in the area in the early 1850s but supplying the miners of the district proved more profitable.
* By 1860 the town had two schools and an agricultural society.
* A post office was opened in 1860.
* A local primary school was opened in 1861.
* A flour mill was built in the town in 1862.
* In 1902 a new school was built in the town.
* In 1922 the local showground was abandoned.
* The Smeaton Flour Mill was closed down in 1957.
* By 2013 the school only had 12 students. It closed the next year.^ TOP
Smeaton has no visitor centre. The nearest is Creswick Visitor Information Centre, 41-43 Albert Street, tel: (03) 5345 1114.^ TOP
There is no dedicated website for Smeaton.^ TOP