The Pioneer Cottage

One of the most interesting of Murrurundi’s many historic buildings is the Pioneer Cottage in Remembrance Park on the New England Highway. Albert Ivin selected 200 acres on December, 20th 1888 in the Timor area some thirty miles (49.3 km) from Murrurundi.

He named the property after Alstone, Cheltenham, Gloustershire, England where he was born in 1863. He married Elizabeth Lawrence at Newcastle NSW in 1889 and the young couple then commenced to pioneer Alston and raise a healthy family and as time went by add to their acreage.

The cottage was probably built in 1889. It is constructed of hardwood slabs faced on one side by a back breaking process with a pit saw. The other side of the slabs are left in their original round back state. The frame work is of rough hewn hardwood all taken from the property or surrounding area. The roof is of corrugated iron, the floors of milled cyprus, perhaps added at a later date. Earth floors were often used in those days.

There is a front verandah and four rooms, an open fire place in the kitchen as now exhibited but in actual fact the cooking was done in a detached building which appeared to be built some years later. The walls are lined with newspaper, wall paper and at one time probably hessian was used to keep out the draught.

The ceilings are lined with calico. The two rear windows are particularly small while the two front windows are of normal size.

Donated by the Ivin and Musgrave families the cottage was relocated to Remembrance Park in April1 1996. A splendid community effort went into this operation.

Special credit must be accorded to Mr. George Grieve, one well experienced in all branches of the building trade, who supervised the whole operation of the dismantling and reassembling of the cottage.

The exterior of the cottage was painted with lime and trimmed with a suitable low gloss paint. An enthusiastic committee has taken over the furnishing and wall papering and a very neat garden now surrounds the cottage.

Trees and shrubs have been planted. The out door “dunny#148; is complemented by two log dog kennels and a very life like earthenware dog is most convincingly chained to one of them.

People both young and old accustomed to convenient bathrooms will see what the pioneers had to contend with in those days. A round tub before the open fire and the laundry done outside in round tubs and a copper or bucket to heat the water and boil the clothes.

Water was often a problem and the cottage has a well depicting this aspect of pioneer life. A dray wheel adds to the rural atmosphere.

In all an intriguing venture back into the past for the passing traveller who may pause for refreshments in the adjoining parks and who may stroll over to the cottage to take in the scene. A phone call to (02) 6546 6675 may well end with an arrangement to be shown through the cottage.

Written by Phillip Mitchell, past curator, Murrurundi Museum — July 1998.