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  • Beverley Skurulis

TAMBREY HOMESTEAD. No.54


Old Homesteads, who doesn't love them?


Tambrey homestead in Western Australia is located about 200 klms south east of Roebourne, and it is visible from the Roebourne to Wittenoom Road,


Tambrey was a particular station building that I loved to draw and paint and did so on numerous occasions. Setting myself up under a tree if I could find one. All those years I painted the outback with watercolour, sometimes for hours in the shade and the heat. When I was younger the heat never worried me though now I don't think I could stand those constant over heated days. There wasn't a water hole anywhere close by so we had to put up with the heat, and flies by the thousands little sticky black ones so I always had my Akubra hat with a fly net under it covering my face and neck.


We explored the station and its out sheds. The white ants had gnawed away most of the timber structures in the old out buildings, the toilet door and wooden toilet seat completely eaten away, the corrugated iron had been wired together so it was self supportive to an extent, though years later a cyclone flattened the lot. The terrain was extremely rugged so firstly we would explore in the four wheel drive with the Easel on the roof rack and my trusty painting stool jammed in the back with all the other stuff. We carried a 4 wheel motor bike on the tray back of the ute so that we could get into some nearly impossible places, and then going by foot sometimes walking for miles. We searched for that spot, the one that just caught my eye the one that would make the painting I so eagerly looked forward to doing. Exploring and finding the station grave sites from the late 1800's into the early to mid 1900's and reading some of the head stones, lots of early settlers and heaps of young children died due to the heat and often their name and the reason of their death was chipped into an overhead rock, it was a harsh life in the outback and the heat is a constant battle. After exploring our surroundings we put down roots for our campsite. As a family we often camped at Tambrey over the 30 years we lived in the Pilbara. Out buildings, shearing sheds and station vehicle sheds were always a contender for us to set up camp, whether we would camp under the stars or under cover.


Tambrey was built in c1893 and constructed with ant mound mud bricks they were made up of and held together with a binding material of chopped up spinifex and dags from the wool shed. This method was used on many of the buildings we came across. Inside the homestead I recall that one side of each of the hand made existing beds were built into the mud brick walls, doing away with the necessity of 4 legs for a bed. The homestead was a good example of North West domestic functional architecture. The building design displayed in the arches over the windows and doors was a distinctive one. When we first came across Tambrey it was a little worse for wear and we watched over the years as the homestead slowly declined. The last time we visited this station was in the 1990's and the building was showing years of weather damage and neglect, a heap of ruins remained of this single storey mud brick and iron dwelling and associated out buildings. Bits and pieces of it had been scattered afar from Cyclones and vandals.


Another bit of history bites the dust.



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