Vintage Story: Mount Crosby Pumping Station

pumping station 4

Here at The Old Farmhouse, we are rural enough that we are on a septic system, there is no public transport to speak of and we don’t even feature on the postie’s rounds: instead our mail is pigeon-holed at the tiny old post office up the road (but that’s another story!). We are, however, connected to the town water supply. The water pressure here is phenomenal, causing an explosion of powerfully gushing water whenever you turn on the tap!  This is hardly surprising when you delve into Mount Crosby history a little….

In the late 1880s Brisbane was in the grip of a water crisis so it was decided to construct a pumping station, reservoir on the side of Mount Crosby and a pipeline through which the water could gravitate towards the city.

The Mount Crosby Pumping Station Under Construction
The Mount Crosby Pumping Station under construction
A bullock dray brings the boiler through the forest in 1891
A bullock dray brings a boiler through the forest in 1891

In late 1891, the huge steam-powered pumps, reaching 27m in height, were cranked into action providing 45 million litres of water to Brisbane each day and from then, served much of the South-East with water for 115 years.

pumping station 10
Pumping engine
pumping station 9
Standpipe and reservoir

Electricity replaced steam power in 1949 and the beautiful old chimney was removed in 1958.


The pumping station is just a short stroll from The Old Farmhouse and I often like to wander down there to admire the gorgeous architecture – a thing of beauty unlike many of today’s industrial buildings.

IMG_2990Don’t you just love the round arches, the old brick, and the details in the cornices and architraves? A piece of Brisbane history right here in my little village!

IMG_2986So, whenever you turn on a tap in Brisbane, your water may just be coming from around here – as they say, “All pipes (well most of them) lead to Mount Crosby.”

Thanks to the Mount Crosby Historical Society for the facts and figures. The black and white photographs are not subject to copyright. Other photographs are my own.


Not Even an Eschalot: starting my garden from scratch

“I did not cultivate any of this land, it would not grow an eschalot”, a quote by Patrick Devin lamenting the poorness of Mount Crosby soil in 1889….um, yeah, in all the research and excitement surrounding our rural move, I kinda forgot to check about the soil in the area….. It is TERRIBLE: hard, rocky, harsh and unfriendly soil. Cultivating this land is going to be a challenge.  The Devins finally managed it, growing cotton and cabbages on the banks of the Brisbane River, as well as a citrus orchard.

Kate Devin at her family’s orchard c.1925 – photograph by Maggie McDougall

I enlisted the help of my childhood neighbour, Elizabeth who has the most amazing little farmlet on Mount Tamborine, growing fruit, veggies, lush flowers and running a colourful menagerie of hens. She made the journey from her mountain to mine to issue advice to this novice farmer about preparing the soil and the layout of the garden. Looks like a thick layer of topsoil, an even thicker layer of mulch, and a good dose of patience and resolve are in order! Before she returned home, she presented me with the most precious gift, an array of heirloom seeds from her own plants – what a treasure. So watch this space for garden updates (and hopefully some future eschalots!)

My selection as it stands today…ready for action!
Gathering the right tools on my potting table
The beginnings of my potting table


Little treasures: heirloom seeds from Elizabeth's garden
Little treasures: heirloom seeds from Elizabeth’s garden


Butterfly Summer

This Summer, the skies were filled with a rabble of  butterflies: a serendipitous combination of hot, dry days, followed by bountiful rain, providing the perfect conditions for these magnificent insects to break their hibernation and emerge in numbers not seen in 40 years.


While the butterflies were colouring our world, a series of equally serendipitous events was also unfurling for me and my family.  

A feeling had been growing inside of me for a while, an agitation to break my hibernation and to embrace a different way of life: simpler, happier, more connected to my family and the environment.

My husband and I had been considering a tree change. I was no longer fulfilled by my role as a speech pathologist and wanted so much to pursue my new venture, “Found By Her” a little vintage home decor shop I had opened on Etsy (and was LOVING!).  We looked as far away as country Victoria but felt we would be taking ourselves and our children away from a strong and established network of family and friends, not to mention my husband’s work.

So, to find a home not too far from our support networks and within a commutable distance for my husband’s work, on a large enough block of land to allow freedom, fresh air, chooks and a veggie patch – oh, and a mortgage (or none at all) that would allow me to stop working in my ‘day job’ and focus on Found By Her – tall order, huh!!?

And then we found her – The Old Farmhouse – a grand old lady built in the 1880s, the area’s original dairy farmhouse.  She fit the bill perfectly and I fell in love at once!

This blog will follow the adventures and misadventures of our lives here at The Old Farmhouse, my lovely little shop and the area around us – one that holds so much history, so many vintage stories!

So now my dreams are in their little chrysalides waiting to metamorphosize into bigger, brighter and more wonderful things – please join me!