Heritage stonemasons have been hard at work preserving a historic woolshed in outback South Australia, with the restoration steadily progressing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's a costly, time-consuming task but it's one that's important to Cordillo Downs station managers Anthony and Janet Brook.
Built in 1883, the stone woolshed is on the South Australian Heritage Register and had to have part of its roof replaced in 2019, after a storm blew it off.
While the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought work plans to a halt, the Brooks knew restoration efforts needed to continue in 2021.
Stonemasons Niall Tonagh and Cameron Rae originally hail from Scotland but are now based in Victoria, which meant there were challenges associated with getting them and their two apprentices across the border.
"The woolshed has reached a critical stage where we if we don't press on and make some repairs, it will fall down," Ms Brook said.
"It's reached that point in its life where it needs some work and even though COVID-19 was throwing up all sorts of difficulties last year, we really needed to get the stonemasons up.
"We feel it's an important part of Australia's heritage, it was put up not long after Burke and Wills went through.
"The structure itself is unique... I know there's other stone woolsheds around but I don't know there's others with a curved roof on it."
Ultimately the stonemasons made three trips to Cordillo Downs in 2021, doing five weeks' work in total focusing on the western gable end wall of the woolshed.
They will return again in May for another two weeks.
The Brooks are also on the hunt for any photographs of what the inside of the woolshed looked like during its heyday.
The last time the shed was used would have been in the 1940s, Ms Brook said.
"We actually don't know how exactly they had the inside set up," she said.
"We've got plenty of photos of the outside and we can make assumptions to how it all worked on the inside but there's no photographs to show us.
"We know that they had a floor in there and when we dug down on the inside of this gable wall we found there was a cavity underneath the floor.
"We originally thought the floor was held up with timber posts but they've actually got stone walls underneath that would have supported the main joists and beams for the floor."
Once the priority jobs are completed, the Brooks hope to one day reconstruct part of the inside to show visitors how the shed worked.
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