PART ONE: SOUL KEEPERS OF GLENORMISTON SOUTH – Why Glenormiston South? by Michelle Weitering
One of the greatest things about being able to write and create stories is to share what we love in this world, with others. I get goosebumps every time I have the opportunity to write about topics that I’m passionate about, whether it’s an important issue regarding mental health, or weaving fun facts throughout a story about life as we know it, depending on our experiences at the time. Another absolute joy in writing is keeping the memory of a loved one who has passed away, alive within the pages of a novel. Also, to have the ability to enlighten the reader and give them another perspective to think about, is such a privilege and one that I do not take for granted.
I had always wanted to write a story set in my childhood hometown of Glenormiston South. The poetic beauty of the area simply had to be shared and to me, Glenormiston and surrounding areas of Noorat, Camperdown, and Terang, are some of the most beautiful spots in Australia. I cannot help but compare Glenormiston’s damp greenness to the likes of Ireland, during its colder months. And after having had the pleasure of spending time in Ireland with my twin, I can say without a doubt, Glenormiston holds as much magic for me as the green Isle itself. Also, once my beloved Mama passed away a few years ago, it was another way for me to honour her, for the safe haven she provided for my twin and I, after experiencing a traumatic event. Glenormiston South was a fresh start. A place of hope.
Growing up on Blacks road with only nine other houses around, created a ‘Breakfast-Club’ like vibe for my twin and I, with the neighbourhood kids and city cousins when they came to visit. With technology being totally unlike what it is today, our entertainment was created with imagination and often, pure ingenuity.
Although the back gate of the Glenormiston agriculture and horticultural college was practically in our front yard, growing up there, the college was like our backyard, and over the years that feeling has never faded. When the college functioned at full capacity it was a sight to behold, with the grounds around the campus buildings and homestead a spectacular vision with flourishing gardens and manicured lawns. The history is gorgeous, and I’ve popped a more detailed account below for the more interested.
Snippets of childhood memories came back to me as I wrote Soul Keepers of Glenormiston South. This book truly is a celebration of my love for the area and the people I grew up with and I hope those sentiments shine through the pages. Memories of playing tennis at the college courts with our neighbour, Shawn McGoldrick, who had the heart and patience of a saint. Spending time with the Duncomb and Lish clan at the pool on those ridiculously hot Aussie summer days. The bus trip every morning and afternoon into Terang college, made bearable by Mr Kidd with his cheerful smile and kind banter. Easily everyone’s favourite bus driver. I know every country town has people and elements that make it unique to each individual – for me Glenormiston, Noorat and Terang hold an incredibly special place in my heart, not just because I grew up there, but because it truly is a stunning part of the world.
Noorat, with Mount Noorat and its stunning views and walking tracks - It is also the birthplace of Alan Marshall, who wrote, I can jump Puddles. Noorat also hosts the much-anticipated yearly Noorat show, and then there is iconic Blacks gates leading towards the Blacks Mansion. Dalvui federation home and gardens, to name a few. Terang is where I went to high school and holds all the good, and disastrous memories that high school brings with it, that builds character! It is simply a delicious location, brimming with juicy country goodness, with the Elms and Oaks that line the main streets and wrap around the countryside, could easily inspire a story from any writer, poet or artist. It certainly did me, Jess Fowler and and Alan Marshall!
What is super cool too, I recently discovered that an award-winning artist, Jess Fowler, practically lives on the doorstep of my childhood home. After exploring her exquisite artworks, I knew I had to connect with Jess and chat to her about the possibility of her doing the artwork for the cover of Soul Keepers of Glenormiston South. I won’t lie, I did shed excited tears and jumped up and down like a lunatic when she agreed to working on this project with me. So thrilled to be meeting Jess in three weeks’ time to discuss our ideas. (Please behave, Mr-COVID-19!)
The feeling I get when I go home now, to be embraced by my childhood friends, despite Mum no longer being there, is like going home to family. I wanted to share the community vibe and beauty of Glenormiston and district with the world, and my appreciation for what makes growing up in a rural area simply fabulous. I absolutely love where I live in the seaside town of Frankston, with my three gorgeous men, an hour out of Melbourne. But Glenormiston will always be home to me and I cannot wait to share the beauty of it with those of my friends who can join me make at the book launch later this year. It will be one hell of a party!
Love to all you beautiful Souls… take care out there. Mickey. XX)
Here are some finer points to the history of Glenormiston for the History Lovers;😊
Glenormiston was once part of a larger run of over 17,000 hectares established in 1839 and acquired the following year by Niel Black and partners. Glenormiston prospered and the homestead, with its magnificent gardens, was one of the finest in the district. In 1949 the State Government purchased the property, (reduced through subdivision in the late 1880’s) for the purpose of agricultural research and education, and in the late 1960’s it became the Glenormiston Agricultural College.
The extant homestead, Dating to 1908, is a substantial two storey Arts and Crafts style building designed by architects Sydney Smith and Ogg, and incorporates parts of a mid-19th century single storey house. Internally, the entrance hall is a fine example of interior design from the period and features a carved timber staircase by the renowned woodcarver Robert Prenzel with 35 panels representing Australian flora and fauna. Exotic plantings from the late 19th and early 20th century, including a striking avenue of English Elms, provide a complementary setting for the homestead.
In addition to the homestead, there are more than 60 buildings/structures including an 1870s overseer’s cottage designed by Alexander Hamilton, a 19th century basalt stable and an accommodation building, an early 20th century factory building for Trufood powdered milk, various 20th century farm buildings and a group of 1970s college buildings designed by PWD architect Des Bloink.