Lake Learmonth is an enormous shallow lake, set among the volcanic hills in the region 20kms North West of Ballarat. The indigenous Wathaurung people of the Burrumbeet baluk (clan) had lived here since ancient times. According to the government website for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Studies (www.aiatsis.gov.au), the records approved by the Surveyor-General of the Colony in the early days state that Lake Learmonth was an established natural water feature known by native people as ‘Tombin’.
In 1837 the Scottish Learmonth brothers claimed the surrounding area for grazing and it became known as Lake Learmonth. A township was established beside the lake as a service centre to meet demands for supplies along the tracks to the outlying Goldfields. By 1856 the township was booming and boasted over 3,000 people. These days only about 370 people live in the historic town, so it’s more of a village really, but still very sweet.
Along one of the trails behind the lake, set among golden farming land, there is this gorgeous ruin. In fact, there are numerous abandoned colonial homes about, but this one pictured here is particularly endearing. One wonders who lived in this old stone homestead and what their lives were like. It just sits there like something out of a storybook, under the big sky, holding its stories to itself and prompting imagination in others.
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