The rather bland suburb of Thomastown contains a rare archaeological site that is quite unknown to most people. Its the first and oldest German Pioneer Settlement in Victoria called Westgarthtown. Remarkably even many German descendents i have spoken to don’t even know of its existence. This makes it ideal for the reporter to get a story.
Its amazingly preserved due to its bluestone construction, isolation and restoration work by the city of Whittlesea . It is made up of the oldest Lutheran church in Australia, (1856), the oldest Lutheran cemetery in Victoria (1850) and Ziebel’s farmhouse made of bluestone (1851) . These are some pictures i took.
There are some other buildings part of the site but they stretch out to nearby streets and are in private ownership. The main site is an open site where you just walk in, no payment needed to get in. Many of the locals walk their dogs there. Ziebel’s farmhouse is often closed but free tours can be arranged by visiting http://www.westgarthtown.org.au/contact/index.htm . The Ziebels were an early German family who migrated to Australia in 1850 in search of a better life.
Their farmhouse was part of an original 102 acre farm, named The Pines. Built between 1851 and 1856, with 61 cm thick stone walls, the house is a typical German farmhouse. It also retains the bath house, smoke house and cart shed all in great condition. It gives you a glimpse into the past 150 years in this area of Melbourne.
Research suggests that no archaeological dig or survey has taken place there. I’m certain just a ground survey of the area would bring forth many other structures that existed originally and objects that have been buried. A plaque on the site states that there was a school building that was demolished in the 1950s.
I have often come here with my mother on Sunday outings. Its a our quiet little sanctuary. My mother says she feels like she is stepping onto the television set of ‘Little House on the Praire’. I highly recommend to come here on a sunny afternoon. The sun illuminates the settlement making it beautiful. You step back in time and for a moment forger that you’re in the town of Thomastown. Thanks to its location though, not being a popular spot you get a lot of privacy.
A nice place for quiet contemplation and if you are of German descent you can appreciate your ancestor’s hard pioneering work. Last time I was here my mother and I had fish and chips in the cemetery. It’s an interesting way to eat fish n chips. I found it relaxing amongst the old tombstones . The cemetery is still open for burial but only for descendants of the original settlers and members of the Lutheran faith.
Westgarthtown is a legacy and testimony to those German settlers. Its an important part of Melbourne’s history. Its well worth a visit and if your up to it have fish n chips in the cemetery. You will enjoy it!