Reasons to return : #1 Art in the Mill…

A leisurely breakfast with Tracy our Airbnb host before heading south. It is just over an hour to Ballandean and the “Art in the Mill” exhibition. This is what I read about it on Google. This is the report on last year’s exhibition…

Close to two decades ago local artist Alba Conti came up with a crazy idea to borrow a concept she’d seen elsewhere to mount an art exhibition in a shed. Come this May Day weekend the 17th installation of A Case of Art in Mill takes place, against all odds.

She must have had vision because for 51 weeks of the year the old case-manufacturing mill in Curr Rd Ballandean has barely a wall to its name. Alba thought the shed just lent itself to the endeavour, and approached owner Pedro Curr who was happy to comply, but with some trepidation as he also thought the idea was far-fetched.

And what does Mrs Conti now think of the ongoing popularity of the annual exhibition of local art?

“Bloody amazing,” she said.

“There were 320 people at the exhibition opening last year, and we receive amazing local support, both in attendance and purchasing.”

She along with fellow organisers Sue Jurd and Michael Pieper feel it’s the homely atmosphere of the setting that attracts those who wouldn’t normally patronise an art gallery. The crew have been busy putting up walls and making the shed weatherproof in the lead-up to the exhibition, to ensure that everyone receives a warm welcome regardless of the outside conditions.


The annual May Day weekend event, now in its 17th year, will exhibit the works of 16 artists, all of whom live and work on the Granite Belt between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield. While the term Art Exhibition generally conjures up a mental image of paintings on a wall, this year, It’s a Case of Art in the Mill boasts a visual feast of 3D works.

Creations in blown glass, forged metal, timber, clay, mixed media, fabric and silk will harmoniously complement traditional and contemporary paintings in oils, acrylics and watercolour pen and wash, prints and drawings.

A unique and interesting venue, the old Case and Timber Mill on Curr Rd in Ballandean provides an incomparable atmosphere in which to immerse and indulge the senses.

The weekend- long exhibition begins at 7pm on Friday and continues until Monday afternoon.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 020_5184x3888

This is the old mill. It certainly looks ramshackle, exudes atmosphere. We walk in and are welcomed by a friendly local who tells us many of the works have been sold and taken away.tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 028_5184x3888But there is still plenty to browse through. It has a very rural and rustic atmosphere with wood chips on the floor and hessian sacking around the walls.

Rusty, old paraphernalia is hanging on the walls above the sacking and wooden pallets have been put to good use.tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 030_5184x3888

At the back of the building the sack is draped to one side and reveals a conglomeration of “stuff” stacked out-of-the-way. A large steam engine skulks on the left and I’m told it is actually in working condition and on the Friday opening night the sound and smell of this giant greets the guests as they wander around drinking mulled wine and nibbling finger food.

Old bikes hang from the roof beams and this very intricate metal fire pit, made by this local who was once the village blacksmith, is keeping the space toasty warm.

By mid-day we are ready to move on.

I’m also ready for a coffee. Suddenly, about half an hour along the road I spot this…tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 058_5184x3888I hadn’t realised we were so close to the border between Queensland and New South Wales. In fact we were right on it. Then I turned around…tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 060_5184x3888Well, just what I was looking for…tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 066_5184x3888This is, in fact, a very historic place. In the past the trains ran from Sydney to Brisbane along this line. Passengers had to change trains here, because for some unfathomable reason, Queensland and NSW had different gauge rail lines. (How stupid is that of the councils back then!!!) 

While waiting for lunch I had an interesting conversation with a fellow traveller who used to live along the line at Toowoomba and every Christmas would go, by the train, to her Grandparents in Sydney. She described the journey in the decrepit, old wooden carriages, with holes in the floor and they would watch, fascinated, as the rails whizzed by underneath their feet. The roof was not attached to the walls and would shake and rattle and smoke from the engine would blow in. Then they would get onto the more modern NSW train to carry on their journey. I forgot to ask how long that journey would take, but I’m guessing a couple of days.

As you can see in the above photo the rail lines are in good condition as NSW still runs occasional tourist steam train trips.

But now look the other way…tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 072_5184x3888This is the Queensland side. No trains run along here any more.tenterfield stanthorpe art at the mill autumn leaves small camer 064_3888x5184Then we went into the museum for a very informative look around.

Across the road is the small village of Wallangarra and the local pub.jacks warwick to tenterfield 084_2062x1080Train passengers would sometimes stay here, or come across for a beer while waiting for the connection train to arrive. We looked inside and this cosy looking lounge area with the fire going enticed us in.

Time for another coffee and a beer for Jack and time to do a sketch. Looking at the same thing, but totally different interpretations.

Before leaving we had a look around the village and this gorgeous tree ablaze with the colours of autumn called out to my camera.warick to tenterfield pc 058_4000x3000

warick to tenterfield pc 060_4000x3000What an interesting find we had stumbled upon. One of those unexpected delights that travelling without a tight schedule can pop up.

But now it was getting on and it was only about 15 more minutes to Tenterfield and I am really looking forward to our stay in the mansion…


I’m linking this journey to Cathy “travel essence” she is a very energetic lady and invites us to join her in describing our journeys. At the moment she is on a 4 week exciting road trip in America. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it when she gets back


  1. You come up with wonderful places to visit and there is never a dull moment and with our sketch pads, it is never boring we do a drawing. I am surprised how our drawings comparing with the photo.
    Now off line we can give each other some constructive criticism.😎👨‍🎨👩🏻‍🎨

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How funny. Roaring Camp is right near Mount Hermon, and is where tourists can ride the old narrow gauge train to Santa Cruz. The train was used to haul lumber a very long ago, but now takes only passengers. The train that went from Santa Cruz to Los Gatos was of normal gauge. In some sections, there are both tracks. In Los Gatos, there is an even narrower gauge ‘railroad’ that was really just a carting machine that brought fruit in from the orchards. They were on sections of track that could be moved around a needed. The tracks are not permanent in a Park, so that children can ride a small train on it. The orchards are all gone.
    That tree is a Chinese pistache, Pistacia chinnsis. It is one of the most reliable trees for autumn color in mild climates.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I went with my mother to Nevada more than a year ago on the Zephyr (which goes from Oakland (Emeryville) to Chicago). She had been wanting to make the trip because she had enjoyed going from Pennsylvania to summer in Oklahoma when she was a kid. It has of course changed, but was still very similar and traditional. For me, it was more luxurious than any of the commuter trains I am accustomed to. Although it would have been easier to just drive there, it really was an excellent trip.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a cool exhibition. I’m sure the organisers are right that taking art out of its “normal”gallery environment makes people more comfortable. I’ve been involved in a sculpture exhibition that raises funds for women’s refuge. It’s held on the reserve above Narrow Neck Beach, and we know from our visitor surveys that over half the people who visit never go to art galleries.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It is: the views are amazing so you can imagine that there are some great photo opportunities 😀
        I hadn’t really thought about galleries as being unwelcoming, intimidating spaces until I get involved with Sculpture OnShore. I guess I have always hung around with an arty crowd. But now I’m aware of it, it seems some in particular are very off-putting to lots of people.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like a great place for us to stop at on our next trip to Queensland, Pauline. Thanks for the interesting post.


    • It was an unexpected find. I think that is what makes travel addictive. Most train lines are now closed down over here, unfortunately as I love train travel


      • Are there just fast services between the cities, Pauline? I’d never thought of it but you don’t see trains featured often on Australian posts. Yet America, which also has large distances to cover, appears to have a thriving rail service. There’s a romance to the train, isn’t there? 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Just a few iconic trains left now, the Ghan up the middle, the inlander out west and sun lander along the east coast. Then of course still have the commuter trains in the major cities. There is a real romance to train travel and I’ve done a few of the big ones, I love them

          Liked by 1 person

  5. You had quite the journey, Pauline, with so many fun and cool places along the way. I love quirky sites like these and I also love the story the woman told about taking the train. What a great trip. Thanks for linking to me. I’ll link it to my next journey post on Wednesday, May 16.

    Liked by 1 person

I would love to hear from you, leave a comment and we can start a conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s