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Photographer's Note

This is a beautifully restored miners' hut from Heatherlie, an amazing ghost town hidden away in the bush in the Grampians.

It was quite an eerie place when we visited it, late on a still afternoon last weekend. We were the only people exploring it, at the end of about half a mile of bush track.

Heatherlie was a support town for the adjacent quarry, set up in the 1870s to produce high-quality Mount Difficult sandstone for the construction boom taking place in Victoria on the back of the gold rushes. A number of major Melbourne landmarks from that era were made from the product, including the Melbourne Town Hall, Parliament House, and the State Library.

More than a hundred men were employed at the quarry, and the building in this photograph was likely a support building rather than a miners' home. A booming future was expected for the quarry and an entire township surveyed; a school was constructed and lots sold off, but within a year or two it became clear the town would be unnecessary: the workers preferred to live in nearby Stawell and travel to the quarry on the train. The school was removed, and gradually the "streets" cleared in the bush were reclaimed by vegetation.

The quarry ceased full-time operation in 1941 and is now only used to extract stone for repairs on buildings made from the product.

It is an absolutely fascinating place to visit; there are a number of beautifully restored, empty huts like this one, and piles and piles of excavation and other mining machinery quietly rotting in the bush. It has a fantastic, almost nostalgic atmosphere and really did feel a bit of a ghost town.

This shot was a tripod-based long exposure. I wondered if I could get some sort of ghostly effect using my lovely and very patient assistant/partner. I asked her to stand in the window here for the first few seconds of a five-second exposure, then hide. ISO 100, stopped to f/13 and a stacked ND8/CirPol filter combination helped with the subdued lighting to get such a long daytime exposure.

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Additional Photos by Simon Bolch (Propofol) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 482 W: 7 N: 285] (1790)
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