Museum Victoria's Black Saturday Bushfire Chimney came from the dining room of 'The Uplands' homestead, which was built in the 1890s for John and Elizabeth Lawrey, early settlers to the Kinglake area.

John Lawrey first took up a selection of 640 acres at Kinglake Central in the early 1880s, and married Elizabeth (nee Kershaw) in 1890. He also leased 101 acres on the Uplands site, and was granted the title to this land in 1904.

John Lawrey was a man of education and enterprise, and held a respected position within the developing community of Kinglake. He was a farmer and involved in a variety of business activities. Like many of the neighbouring farms, John Lawrey was involved in growing berries, especially raspberries. He also established a fruit tree orchard and a fruit pulping factory near the Kinglake Central Primary School. In later years his farm activities included dairying, sheep, peas and potato-growing. John Lawrey also owned a team of draught horses which were used for hauling timber and other loads to the Whittlesea railway. He was a member of the Kinglake Progress Association, worked as a Justice of the Peace and was a councillor of the Eltham Shire between 1895 and 1904.

'The Uplands' homestead was large and catered to the needs of the Lawrey family, consisting of three daughters and three sons. There were four bedrooms, a bathroom, sitting room, dining room, office, pantry, kitchen and a men's dining room (used by the workers).

The chimney collected by Museum Victoria is from the dining room. Margery Lawrey, one of the daughters, recalls songs and poetry recitals held in front of the hearth. One of her regular chores was to white-wash the fireplace with pipe clay. The Lawreys were very sociable and their home was often used for gatherings, parties and sporting events. When a tennis court was built in the corner of one of the paddocks a tennis club was formed.

The chimney and its hearth were the centre of the Lawrey home, and warmed the community of Kinglake over many years. Its installation at Melbourne Museum offers it a new life to continue its role in warming the hearts of those who visit it and providing a place for reflection and commemoration.

In the 1950s a brick veneer home was built with all of the modern innovations of electricity and internal plumbing. The Uplands homestead retreated behind this new building. At the time of Black Saturday, the original homestead was being used as a store. Ironically, its destruction has brought to the surface its rich connection to the early settlement of Kinglake.

Museum Victoria is keen to source any information about 'The Uplands', in particular any photographs or memories of this early homestead. If you can help, please contact Liza Dale-Hallett on 8341 7251 or email her at [email protected].

Deidre Hawkins (ed), Kinglake - Pioneering Days (1991).
Deidre Hawkins, 'Living Memories - The Uplands', in Mountain Monthly, (August 2009), page 18.
Liza Dale-Hallett, 'Kinglake Chimney Finds New Life at Museum Victoria', in Mountain Monthly, (August 2009), page 36.

More Information