Mystery of the shearing shed

When we bought our property there was no house. But it did have a number of sheds, including 3 machinery/hay sheds and a 3 stall shearing shed with stock yards.

The sheds are all built using bush poles (basically trees trunks without branches) and clad in corrugated iron of various types. While two of the machinery/hay sheds are in quite good order, ignoring the giant rabbit burrow inside one, one is slowly collapsing under its own weight as the lesser quality timbers rot and the roof falls off.

Our shearing shed is standing solid with a lovely rustic charm, but a mysterious background.

On appearances the shearing shed looked to have a far bit of age about it, primarily due to the bush poles and mishmash of materials its been built from. However, when we first walked through it though we found a note on one of the beams that stated "First Sheering (sic) 1986". So, oldish!

Next thought was "OK, maybe this shed replaced a much older shed". Beside the shearing shed is another smaller shed that forms an alley to where sheep are moved into the shearing shed. This smaller shed is in a poor state and has a slatted floor and a couple of separate holding pens inside. Maybe this belonged to an older shearing shed? So I went looking for old plans or aerial images, to show what was once here.

On the web I found the Historical Photo-maps from DELWP. Here were aerial images taken in 1960. A bit of digging around and some fiddling around on QGIS and I located where the current sheds should have been in 1960 (image below), but alas they are not there. There doesn't appear to be any building anywhere near our property back then, so the sheds aren't that old as thought.

One mystery remained though. A series of makers stamps, Trade Mark Redcliffe, on some of the tin used to build the shearing shed. These were mostly ignored as inconsequential until a recent doco about the saving of an old house around Orange which was thought to Banjo Patterson's birth place. In it they found tin on the house with the same maker as what is on our shearing shed. Intriguing!

Some quick research turned up a study on the history of the stamps on the tin and the changes through the history of the company (1). Turns out, the Redcliffe Crown Galvanized Iron Company has a history dating back to 1874 and was imported to Australia from 1875. Over its life there were changes to the stamp on the tin which can be used to date the production period. A handy flow chart made it easy to determine the stamps on our tin are a Type IIA stamp and the research puts the production date range to between 1881 and 1895. So at least some part of the shed is old. Result!

Hopefully with further research we can find links to other people or farms in the district that may have more information about the mystery of the Mucko Family Farm shearing shed.

1. Spennemann, Dirk. (2015). Redcliffe Crown Corrugated Iron in Australasia. A survey of its history, marketing and distribution, 1875–1921. 10.13140/RG.2.1.1468.1683. (Link)

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