It was a gloriously hot and sunshiny afternoon in Australia as my friend and I drove home. We had spent the day visiting friends on their remote property dotted with gum trees the occasional wallaby hopping by. We’d had a grand time taking tractor rides and gabbing for hours on the back porch while sipping cold drinks.
Usually after a long day of visiting and trekking all I want to do is get home so I can crash. But not this day. We were in Australia bush country at sunset and the tiny towns and farms were so beautiful and interesting that I wanted to stop at every one and take a gander.
Thankfully my friend was in a similar frame of mind so we took a meandering route home, stopping where we liked.
We saw picture perfect country homes with white picket fences and perused a barn full of rustic handmade wooden furniture glossy and glowing in the setting sun.
One of my favorite finds was this lovely old church in Leyburn, Queensland.
Anglican services had been held in Leyburn since the 1840’s under the leadership of one Reverend Benjamin Glennie known as the Apostle of the Downs. The congregation gathered in public houses or the courthouse until 1870 when donations for a church arrived from students of the college of St Augustine in England. Land was purchased in for a whopping £4, and the church was built in 1871.
It’s a beautiful little church with timbered walls and bell-cote and a roof of hand-split hardwood shingles. It was designed by architect Richard George Suter (1827-1894) who also designed at least ten other churches in the area.
Suter caused quite a theological ruckus by deviating from traditional stone with this wood design. Apparently timber was viewed as an unsuitable material to be used in the construction of the houses of God. He got away with it, however, and it is now one of the only surviving examples of timbered, shingle-roofed buildings.
If you make it to Leyburn one day and have a hankering to wander the church grounds, look for a memorial to one Dan Bray, a gold miner who died in 1901. It is a tribute to all the gold miners of Leyburn’s’ early history who lie in unmarked graves in unknown places.
I’m so glad we decided to stop that day. So glad to learn about men like Mr. Suter who do “wild” things like use timber instead of stone so we have charming buildings like St. Augustine’s to make us pull over in the middle of nowhere for an amble and a think.
Have you ever stopped out of the blue and found something that delighted you?