Set back among picturesque fields in Smeaton is a hidden historic gem that locals hope will become a tourist drawcard.
The little-known Andersons Mill is a five-storey historic bluestone mill built in the 1850s, during the early days of Victoria’s growing mill industry.
Smeaton resident Cheryl Just and husband Alan fell in love with the mill 25 years ago when they were visiting the area from Melbourne.
They purchased a house over the hill and became friends with the Anderson sisters, who were descendants of the founders and lived in a small white house next to the mill.
The sisters, who have now died, told Mrs Just of their dream to bring the Mill back to life by making it a family friendly location that people could enjoy.
After spending years working out how to make the sisters’ dream a reality Mrs Just decided to run The National Trust Anderson Mill Weekend last Saturday and Sunday.
Mrs Just contacted Shetland radio station in Scotland, which hosts Mills on Air – a discussion panel where the history of Scottish mills is shared with the public.
For the first time the Andersons Mill history was shared on air – making it the first international mill to be on the show.
Following in Scottish tradition, Mrs Just brought her family together to host a family fair at the mill complete with games, entertainment, food, historic quilts and tours through the mills – which is rarely open to the public.
While the mill is owned by Parks Victoria it is maintained and not opened.
Federation University collaborative research centre of Australian history professor Keir Reeves said the mill was one of the largest remaining building of its ear in Victoria.
“It is a legacy of the earliest days of milling in Victoria,” Professor Reeves said.
He said the mill could become another tourist destination for the region and could help ensure a “hidden gem” did not become lost and was instead transformed into a Smeaton icon.
More than 1500 were estimated to have attended the two-day open fair.