Amess next to Phillip

29 09 2011

Crossing over a bridge over wetlands that line the eastern tip of Phillip Island to tiny Churchill Island, one is transported back in time to a delightful world that existed at the end of the 1800s. It is a place that is significantly from a historical perspective being the first place in Victoria where European settlers first began farming in the 1850’s. There exists today a working heritage farm – an ideal place to pause en route to the attractions of Phillip Island and perhaps grab a bite at.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm is a delightful place to stop by on the way to the other attractions of Phillip Island.

A family of Black Swans seen at the wetlands on Phillip Island on the way to Churchill Island.

The passage over the road bridge provides magnificent views of the wetlands on both sides. Once on Churchill Island, one is welcomed by the greenest of meadows where highland cattle (no kidding!) and sheep are seen grazing. The cattle and several game animals that included rabbits, quails and pheasants were introduced by a certain Samuel Amess to the island to “maintain fond memories of the land of his birth” – the land of his birth being Scotland. Amess was a very successful stonemason and builder who became the Mayor of Melbourne. In 1872, Amess purchased Churchill Island, building a homestead as a seaside holiday home as well as maintaining a farm on it. The house, Amess House, has since been conserved along with the farm and is well worth a visit.

A road bridge connects Churchill Island to Phillip Island.

Highland cattle were introduced to Churchill Island by Samuel Amess.

A lamb chasing after its mother on Churchill Island.

For us, the visit started with the all important food stop at the café (which uses organic produce from the farm) where I had a good plate of fish and chips and a good warm cup of hot chocolate. And, while waiting for food to be served, we ventured down to a scented patch of purple – a plot of lavender that danced in the wind. The meal and the wide opened spaces must have got to some of us. First Eric Lim was spotted chasing a goose around the well-manicured gardens adjoining the heritage farm and then Peter, hilariously attempted to confuse a chicken that he was one of the gang! Fortunately for the chicken and probably for us, he failed miserably and we could continue on our tour of the farm.

A plot of lavender on Churchill Island.

Fish and Chips I had for lunch.

Eric chasing a goose down one way.

The terrified goose.

And up the other way.

Pete doing a chicken dance.

Amess House, left in a condition that it might have been in when it was first occupied in 1872, provides a good idea of the comforts of an upper class home of the era. Based on information provided at the house, it was occupied by three generations of Amesses, Samuel and his son and grandson, before being sold, passing through four other hands before the Government of Victoria purchased it in 1973.

Inside Amess House.

A child's bedroom.

Around the house and several other heritage buildings, the farm, which looks very much like it could have been used as a set for Little House on the Prairie complete with not just animals but farming implements of the day, is arranged. Sheds at the far ends of the farmyard include a blacksmith’s workshop and a sheep shearing station and it is here, that visitors to the farm are able to watch a host of farming activities such as cow milking, blacksmithing, sheep shearing, and working dog demonstrations. The farms also hosts a collection of farm animals and visitors get to meet clydesdale horses, highland cattle, sheep, ducks, chickens … and even non-farm animals such as peacocks. It is also possible for visitors to take a short horse drawn wagon ride around the farm.

The Churchill Island Heritage Farm is a working farm with chickens and other livestock.

Sheep at the farm.

A peacock in the heritage gardens.

Buildings within the Churchill Island Heritage Farm.

Heritage farm buildings.

Heritage farm buildings.

Visitors are able to take a horse drawn wagon ride on the farm.

The blacksmith's shed.

Valyn wandering around the farmyard.

With all the activities that await one at the farm, a visit there will be a treat not just for the children, but for everyone else – it was certainly one for me, and judging by the smiles on the faces of the other bloggers – it must have been one for them as well. More information on Churchill Island Heritage Farm can be found on the Phillip Island website.

This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.