“Are We Finished?” – People grounded in the traditions that made Melbourne marvellous


Takashi Ueda of the Kinkarakami Foundation in Japan, instructing workshop participants in the art of making Japanese leather wallpaper

“Are We Finished?” – a two-day exploration of decorative finishing trades, techniques and conservation at Labassa and Rippon Lea, Victoria; 4-5 October 2016

Thirty tradespeople and heritage conservation professionals enjoyed two days of demonstrations, activities and discussions on specialist finishing trades at Labassa in Caulfield North, Victoria on 4 and 5 October, 2016.  Held as a precursor event to the 2016 Australia ICOMOS conference “The People’s Ground”, the specialisations covered included decorative plastering, stucco repair, tuck pointing, faux finishes, stained glass conservation and wallpaper making.


A spread of plasterers sharing knowledge about mixing hydraulic lime mortar stucco


Kieran Dunleavy demonstrating the use of home made mutton fat to grease his table mould

The venue, Labassa, is one of the most important surviving Victorian houses with intact finishes. As such, it was a fitting venue for the various demonstrations and activities. Labassa is owned and managed by the National Trust of Australia, who hosted and co-sponsored the event.


“Are We Finished?” participants on the upper colonnade of Labassa learning about repairing tessellated tiling

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Longford Academy Spring Workshop 2016

Longford Academy – Spring Workshop, August 2016

With TBCITB support this year, APT Australasia Chapter expanded the number and the skills level of Longford Academy offerings at the Woolmers Estate.   The week of 22–26 August 2016 saw the first master class on wood carpentry and joinery conservation presented by leading heritage conservation contractor Gary Waller.  A refresher program for past Longford Academy participants ran in parallel with the master class.

Gary Waller brought a team of four of his assistants from Sydney to Woolmers Estate to demonstrate methods of conserving heritage fabric by means of consolidation and minimal intervention, all in accordance with the Burra Charter principle of doing as much as necessary and as little as possible. Gary also presented a one-day workshop on Friday 26 August in which he described a range of woodworking and conservation techniques that his company practices. Ten additional practitioners from Tasmania and the mainland came to Longford and joined the group for this valuable workshop.

With so much high-value heritage fabric at Woolmers needing an experienced heritage conservation practitioner’s light touch, every effort will be made to offer more workshops and master classes to develop the skills and resources needed in the years ahead while also contributing to the conservation of this precious heritage resource.


Gary Waller with workshop participants discussing repairs to a woolshed shutter

A key component of the work of the Longford Spring Session was the careful planning and execution of repairs to the wooden shutters from the Woolmers woolshed. These date from 1820, and were in dire need of repair to ensure their conservation. Gary and his team carefully planned the work and demonstrated techniques to participants who also directly assisted with the repairs.


Michael Bremer-Trainor building up the oak grained finish on the Australian red cedar front door using traditional wood graining materials and methods

In addition, the front door of Woolmers Homestead was repainted and oak grained during the wood master class by specialist decorative painter Michael Bremer-Trainor from Huonville, Tasmania. The full process can be viewed in this powerpoint presentation prepared by Anthony Mitchell.

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“Are we finished” – Materials Conservation Workshop, 4-5 October 2016, Melbourne


Are we finished” is a 2 day materials conservation workshop to be held on 4-5 October 2016 at Labassa in Melbourne.  This workshop is being organised in conjunction with the Australia ICOMOS “The People’s Ground” conference.

The workshop will include an exciting program of presentations, demonstrations and hands-on participation in the following:

  • internal plaster repair techniques
  • external stucco (cementitious render) repair and finishing techniques
  • colour staining and lime tuck pointing of brickwork
  • cast iron and zinc repair techniques
  • decorative painting techniques, including wood-graining, marbling and grisaille painting
  • wallpaper design and reproduction
  • stained glass conservation

Download more information.DSCN5864

As this workshop is being promoted as part of The People’s Ground conference, we expect that places will fill quickly.  Register online here.  Discounted rates are available for those who also attend the Australia ICOMOS conference.

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Vale Bruce Petry

Bruce Petry Woolmers May2016

Bruce Petry  

Conservation Architect

It is with enormous sadness that we communicate the passing of Bruce.

Bruce was a significant force in the Heritage New Zealand world since beginning his professional career at the NZ Historic Places Trust in the 1990s. He was a passionate campaigner for the retention and adaptive reuse of heritage sites and buildings. His expertise in conservation architecture was some of the best in the country and he was always generous and excited to share his expertise.

This drive to share and expand the importance of heritage in the New Zealand planning and architectural worlds evolved over time into a more formal role in establishing educational opportunities for the NZ Heritage community, including the establishment of the Greg Bowron Trust and Educational Scholarship.

Bruce loved Heritage. He believed in the importance of its contribution to how we understand ourselves, and in making places better and more beautiful to experience. Reverb was the vehicle for his enthusiasm and drive. His passion, knowledge and irreverent humour were a great asset to the Heritage community and his departure will be deeply felt.

Bruce’s funeral was held on Monday 18th July at 1pm at St Matthews, Auckland. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating a little to the Greg Bowron Trust, a charity established by Bruce to administer a travel scholarship for heritage researchers. See the following site for more information – https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/brucepetry#

words courtesy Adam Parkinson, Reverb
photo taken during LA7 at Woolmers in May 2016 by Gayle Plunkett

Bruce participated in the Longford Academy in May 2016, and we are pleased to be able to share this report that he posted on the Reverb blog.

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Longford Academy 2016 Spring Program

The APT Australasia Chapter has responded to the increased demand for participation at the annual Longford Academy with a new APT Longford Academy Spring Program to be held at Woolmers and Brickendon Estates, Tasmania, in late August 2016.  This will comprise three activities.


LA Spring Masterclass for Wood Practitioners … 22-26 August 2016

A master class for established and emerging wood practitioners will be presented by Gary Waller, renowned Sydney-based conservation carpenter and joiner, in the week of 22-26 August 2016. Places in this master class are reserved for participants demonstrating the potential to contribute over time to higher standards of conservation of wooden buildings and elements. The master class will be held at the outstanding, World-Heritage inscribed, 1820 timber woolshed at Woolmers Estate. Download full details for the Spring Masterclass.

Traditional Wood Carpentry and Joinery Repair Workshop … 26 August 2016

The master class will include a Traditional Wood Carpentry and Joinery Repair Workshop on Friday 26 August.  This workshop is open to one-day registrants. Download full details for the Traditional Wood Repair Workshop.

LA Spring Refresher … 22-26 August 2016

In parallel with the LA Spring Masterclass for Wood Practitioners, we will be running a refresher suitable for practitioners with prior experience at the Longford Academy or other heritage conservation programs delivered by masonry specialist David Young.  This refresher will provide an opportunity for heritage practitioners to work intensively with traditional materials including lime. The LA Spring Refresher includes the Traditional Wood Carpentry and Joinery Repair Workshop on 26 August 2016. Download full details for the Spring Refresher.

We look forward to welcoming you to the APT Longford Academy Spring Program in late August 2016.

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Report from LA7 – May 2016

Forty-three local and international participants, and nine presenters and coordinators, attended the seventh annual  ‘Longford Academy’ (LA7) at the World Heritage Inscribed sites Woolmers Estate and Brickendon Estate in Northern Tasmania.

LA7 concluded successfully on Friday 13 May 2016 — a five-day program in the conservation of traditional structures and fabric at Woolmers, with two one-day intensive workshops at Brickendon. Participants came from Tasmania and mainland Australia, and from Kuala Lumpur, Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington.

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The event was generously supported by:

  • Woolmers and Brickendon Estates
  • Tasmanian Construction Industry Training Board
  • Northern Midlands Council
  • Tasmanian Independent Builders’ Association
  • Sibelco (suppliers of Mole Creek lime)
  • Let’s Clean (cleaning, paint removal and desalination technologies)
  • Period Building Conservation (Victoria)
  • G & C Waller Builders (Sydney)
  • Mitre 10 Longford

The Longford Academy could not succeed without the generous support it receives from both sponsors and participants.


The weather this year was at times challenging, with rain, strong winds and snow on the mountains. However, spirits remained high throughout and the collaborative learning and practical demonstrations and activities continued successfully during the week without too much interruption.

Progress was made this year with some long-running research and practical activities at Woolmers, including the application of harling (roughcast plaster); one of the distinctive traditional finishes. The four plasterers who attended this year achieved pleasing results with enthusiastic contributions.


As a result of their collaboration, and by drawing on their combined knowledge of practices in Britain and Australia, it will now be possible to move forward with confidence to repair damaged areas of the distinctive roughcast plastered brick structures at both sites.

The two one-day intensive workshops were very well attended and appreciated by all attendees, not only for the famous Woolmers scones or the export quality beef at the traditional Brickendon barbeque, but also for the quality of the presentations and practical learning opportunities.

Participants at the lime mortars workshop — who included stone masons, plasterers, specifiers and other conservation practitioners – obtained a very good understanding of the correct and traditional uses of lime in mortars and plasters through presentations by David Young and practical demonstrations by the participants.


The traditional roofing repair workshop was a highlight of the week. Greg Owen — an experienced builder and licensed roof plumber from Stanley in Victoria, and a keen observer and follower of correct traditional roofing and roof plumbing practices — presented the theory and demonstrated the techniques.

The wood workers in the group used traditional tools, methods and techniques to split timber shingles and lay them under the direction of Allan Coates from Tasmania and Gary Waller from Sydney.

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We thank all participants for generously sharing their knowledge, experience and practical skills, including assistance from the carpenters in developing our ‘props’ for the demonstrations — that spirit of collaboration underpins the special learning environment at the Longford Academy. Thanks also to Cheryl Padgett and Anthony Mitchell who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the catering, material support and transport assistance was up the usual high standard, despite the larger number of participants and increased site activities.



A second Longford Academy event for this year will be held in late August. It will feature a Master Class in Wooden joinery repair methods led by Gary Waller, Sydney’s leading wood conservation practitioner. Given the anticipated response to this specialised workshop for wood practitioners, it will be an event by application, with details of the selection criteria to be announced in late May.

For those more interested in the wet trades and practices, this second Longford event for 2016 will also provide an opportunity for others to work with David Young on lime mortar making, re-pointing brickwork and roughcast plaster repairs.

We will look forward to meeting past and new colleagues in Longford in August.

Donald Ellsmore
Convenor, APT Australasia Chapter
May 2016

Download this post in PDF format.

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LA7 fully subscribed

The Longford Academy in May 2016 (LA7) is fully subscribed with participants in a range of trades specialisations and heritage disciplines from most Australian states as well as New Zealand and Malaysia.

The one-day workshops on Lime Mortar repairs and Traditional Roofing repairs will each have more than 40 participants including Tasmanian independent builders and property owners.  These two workshops will be presented with support from the Tasmanian Building and Construction Industry Training Board.

The Longford Academy is supported by Woolmers, Brickendon, Longford Mitre 10 and Sibelco Mole Creek, manufacturers of building lime.

The next Longford Academy event will be a Master Class in wood conservation (windows and shutters) to be held in late August 2016 at Woolmers.  More information to be posted here soon.

In 2017 the Longford Academy (LA8) will be held on 8-12 May 2017 at Brickendon and Woolmers Estates.

Details about future events can be obtained by emailing the Convenor.

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