Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dalwood House 'another National Trust property'

View from Dalwood House

By Ann Hardy- Board Member National Trust of Australia (NSW)

The Northern National Trust (NSW) Volunteers workshop was held this week at Wyndham Estate in the Hunter Valley, NSW.  This was the first of several workshops for volunteers this year and what a wonderful event it was thanks to the Trust staff and volunteers. It was an inspirational few days spent with some wonderful people sharing ideas and stories about the Trust's properties.

Historic Dalwood House is a National Trust property and was the perfect backdrop to discuss exciting new ways to tell stories of Trust properties and their wider context.  Dalwood House is a reminder of the diversity and rich cultural heritage of the Hunter Valley, an historic house surrounded by beautiful vineyards, historic agricultural landscape and Aboriginal heritage.

Front view of Dalwood House

Side entrance to Dalwood House

Dalwood estate is located on the banks of the Hunter River. The house has exceptional architecture and is a rare surviving example of one of the earliest Greek revival buildings in New South Wales.

Greek classical revival style

The Wyndham's were assigned with convicts to assist in building and establishing crops at Dalwood. This was the first place that Shiraz grapes were planted in Australia. Wines from Dalwood estate were sold in Britain, India and the USA and received awards internationally. During our walk Don mentioned that Aboriginal workers were also present on the estate during the 1840s and 50s, working alongside assigned male and female convicts.

Vines at Dalwood

Family Graveyard

To the Volunteers Dinner
Gionni di Gravio was our guest speaker at the Trust dinner, he talked about how today many organisations like the National Trust are 'making do' with the resources available, however the advantage of living in the 21st century is the digital age is enabling information to be disseminated more timely and cost effectively, particularly through the use of blogs and social media. The digital age is providing a new face and first contact point for the community, the internet is a very powerful tool giving increased exposure and a new presence in a new space to organisations. Thus often a new audience.

Don Seton-Wilkinson
At the workshops many topics were covered, including how to work with local media, managing events and promoting the properties.  It was very impressive to hear what many of the houses are doing in relation to events and open days, particularly Dundullimal Homestead at Dubbo and Saumarez Homestead, Armidale.

One of the most important things I got out of the day is the idea of looking beyond the properties, at the broader environment, the landscape, and others in our community to share new stories.

There are different ways to interpret the properties in their wider context, just as Dalwood's old sun-dial reaches to the sun to be understood, we can also reach out, bringing back new stories to better understand 'home'!

Dalwood's Sun-dial


 Many thanks to Wyndham Estate and Don Seton-Wilkinson


Roland Bannister said...

Thanks Ann. I enjoyed your report on the NTA Dalwood workshop, and I find the increasing use of innovative technology to be a challenge and an inspiration. Not least useful of the technologies is the camera: your pictures, Gionni Di Gravio's pictures and the Dalwood estate pictures each tell stories, but taken together they tell a bigger story.
National Trust members and volunteers, and other visitors to NTA sites are integral to the human story of the properties.

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