Anderson's Mill - Classified by the National Trust


Joined June 2008

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Image taken near the township of Smeaton in central Victoria, Australia.

In a postcard setting on the banks of Birch’s Creek at Smeaton, Anderson’s Mill stands as a powerful reminder of an industry that flourished after the gold rush of the 1850’s. Standing today much like it was over 100 years ago, the five-storey bluestone building and its magnificent iron water wheel are still in place.
Construction of the flour mill commenced in 1861 and it was operational within six months, the Oat section of the Mill was completed by the following harvest. Outbuildings such as the stables, grain store and bluestone office were added later as the operation expanded. The water wheel was developed from designs by John Smeaton and the patterns cast locally in Ballarat at Hunt and Opie’s Victoria Foundry. Water was collected from Hepburn Lagoon, about five kilometres from the Mill, then released into Birch Creek before being channelled into the water race to turn the wheel. The amount of water required depended on the product being processed. The person operating the release gates at Hepburn Lagoon would be asked to release “half oats water” or “full flour water” for the shift’s operation.
The building was designed by John Anderson, who had trained as a millwright in Scotland. The height of the building reflected the need to use gravity in the milling process and the siting to utilise the water from Birch Creek.The Anderson family owned and operated the Mill for almost 100 years, through boom times, depression and war. But despite its impressive beginnings, the prosperity of the Mill was short lived. Railway lines bypassed Smeaton and the centre of wheat growing gradually shifted north and west. Wide annual variations in wheat harvests also made it difficult for small-scale local millers to obtain regular supplies.
After the Mill closed in 1959, most of the machinery was sold for scrap. For almost 20 years the building stood unused. In 1974 it became one of the first buildings to be included on the Historic Buildings Register. Much needed repairs were made and the Mill was finally purchased by the State Government in 1987. Restoration began in earnest to preserve the history and beauty of the Mill. The building is now listed on the National Estate Register of the Australian Heritage Commission as well as the Historic Buildings Register and is also classified by the National Trust.

Camera Olympus E-P1, Focal length 42.0mm,
Shutter speed 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 244

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