Shene Estate: Ordinary people, extraordinary challenge.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending another Instameet with the ever more familiar (and growing) group of photographers I’ve been getting to know over the past few weeks. Shene Estate was the venue of choice for this Instameet, organised by @lifecatchme with support from @loves_laughs, @jayedevil and @lovethywalrus. Being without vehicular transport for the occasion I enquired about getting a lift and the very pleasant Andrew Ross (@no_visible_means) very kindly offered me a seat in his car.

We arrived as a gentle shower of rain was blowing in over the valley. Our host for the day was Myfanwy Kernke, daughter of Anne and David who run Shene alongside their daughters and westie cross poodle Rupert Archibald. Myf as she’s affectionately called by her friends gave us a brief introduction to everything Shene before leading us inside the barn for a more sheltered tour.

Shene has always been a place of great activity and above all, fascinating history and that continues to this day as the Kernke family seek to restore Shene to its former glory. The site is still a working Black Angus cattle and sheep farm as well as home to several geese and chickens. There is a rich history going back to the convict times and the stables were even built and managed by convict labour in the mid 1850’s. Shene’s colourful past has direct links with King George III, Governor Lachlan Macquarie and World Heritage Sites.

After many years of hard work, the Kernkes have proudly opened Shene Estate to the public and with restoration works ongoing there’s a great buzz of excitement about the place, perhaps partially due to the impending arrival of a Shene limited edition Gin, the first product of a newly announced distillery project.

The story of Shene wasn’t always so promising however and the site today is a far cry from its almost forgotten self before the massive restoration works began. There’s evidence of these undertakings throughout the site, with whole chunks of the homestead and stable buildings carrying fresh stone, quite distinguishable in colour from the more faded original structure. The stable has a soft orange/brown tone today but when first constructed it was a brilliant white display of equestrian architectural brilliance.

The Kernkes are passionate about Shene, truly, madly, deeply passionate. You can tell when you speak to any of the family that Shene is so much more than just a little project, it’s everything. Shene Estate is full of fascinating pieces of history, and Myf did a fantastic job of putting together some vignettes of artefacts found throughout the site for us to photograph. Rusted horseshoes, pieces of broken pottery and glassware, what may be considered junk to many are treasures for Shene. They tell the story of this place, it’s people and the lives they led during their time here. I’m a firm believer in this also and loved the sense of nostalgia just oozing off the displays.

Shene represents an important piece of Tasmania’s colonial past and it’s through the fantastic effort of the Kernke family that it can be shared with you and I today and hopefully long into the future.

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It was cool to see the changing mood of Shene reflected in the pool as the afternoon wore on and the light faded.

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We did a spot of light spinning photography later in the evening. Given all the wood in the barn and stables it was wiser to go with LEDs as opposed to the usual steel wool which gives off those epic sparks. DSCF4432

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