By Tanya Steele
Volunteers put a lot of hard work into the National Trust’s Gulf Station in Yarra Glen, as the heritage site extended into weekend hours.
The recent decision to open the historic sight to the public on one Sunday a month has long-time volunteer Pam Viccars excited to share the station’s history with new visitors.
Ms Viccars, who is a tour guide at Gulf Station, said she loves working there and is proud to be involved with the restoration.
“I think when you walk in here, you can kind of feel the history,” she said.
“My Dad had been a dairy farmer, so it appealed to me.”
Gulf Station was originally established and farmed by the Bell Family in the 1850s and supplied produce to locals in the district at that time.
The historic station often features live displays of pioneer activities like butter churning and rope and barrel making.
Ms Viccars began volunteering at Gulf Station when she spotted a vacancy advertisement for volunteers at a pioneering farm in the Yarra valley by the National Trust.
“Just the fact that you’re walking the same footsteps as our pioneers did always gives me a bit of a goosebumpy feel and that’s really cool,” she said.
The National Trust acquired stewardship of the site in the 1970s and volunteers have slowly restored the original buildings and barn, preserving an authentic snapshot in history.
The small but dedicated team of volunteers meet every Thursday regardless of the weather to maintain the property, which is an ongoing process.
Ms Viccars said she appreciates visitors to the site because it allows the team to keep the station restoration process running.
“The only thing that keeps us going is whatever we take in through the gate,” she said.
Gulf Station is a not-for-profit organisation and does not receive any recurrent government funding, instead relying on public visits to fund the upkeep of the large property.
The additional hours once a month on Sundays will allow locals and the public of greater Melbourne to visit the property and other attractions around Yarra Glen.
National Trust Coordinator Fiona Leadbeater works with the volunteers and said the additional day will lift the profile of Gulf Station.
“Together we’re trying to reinvigorate the property and make it more accessible to families,” she said.
“The open weekend opening Sunday openings is really going to help with that.”
Ms Leadbeater said she hopes the open day will see collaboration between other heritage groups in the area.
“We’ve invited other groups along for the day like the Yarra Valley Railway and Mont de Lancey partnering with them so we can try and make a visitor experience when people come,” she said.
“It’s a lovely place, we like to share it.”
The property is situated just outside of Yarra Glen on the Melba Highway.