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Weekend Wanderings: Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement

Last week when I was up in the Mallee it was hot and while I think taking photos when it’s hot is okay it really isn’t fun. When we realized one of the days was going to be hot we thought a trip to Swan Hill on the Murray River in Victoria’s north might be nice.

I have to say Swan Hill was disappointing. For a town or city that was founded in 1846 they have done their best to make it look new. I grew up around there and I know there were historical buildings, but many of them are now gone. The city looks like it began in the 60’s. I don’t understand the mentality.

They are missing an opportunity. People think of tourists as people who will take photos of anything, but what about the tourists who are photographers? As photography gains momentum they want to travel to places to take photos. I wouldn’t recommend Swan Hill, it is ugly now, there is no sense of the place as it was. I love old buildings, and it is hard to see any.

We also went to the Pioneer Settlement.

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I haven’t been there for about 30 years, but it is still very much like it was. There were some differences. The paddle steamer in the above image used to be the entrance. Now they have a shiny new building that is in stark contrast to what the place is meant to represent as the entrance.

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The settlement is like a little town set back in 19th century. You can see what the shops looked like, and homes, see how people lived.

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You can walk inside to many places. Though, it was sad to see how some things were set up. Like old cash registers with the keys facing behind the counter, the most interesting part of them and you can’t see them.

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This is a dunny, what Australians would call it anyway. A toilet outside in a little room like this.

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There is a paddle steamer that you can go for a ride on as well. You can’t see it here, but they have put air conditioning on it and right on top of the boat are the ventilators for it, so ugly and makes photography of something that is meant to be authentic, completely unauthentic.

It was a strange place. It was almost like it was meant to be old, but they didn’t really like old, much like the whole of Swan Hill. If you want to photograph a historic river town I would recommend you go to Echuca, they have hung onto their past.

I  have a gallery of more photos and you can see what the place is like. It might have been nicer if it wasn’t so hot and humid, but I don’t know that I would go back again. I do understand now why the photographers I see from up there do more landscapes.

35 Comments
  1. Anne Sandler #

    Time marches on Leanne. Sometimes, not so gently! Loved your images.

    December 13, 2015
    • That’s for sure Anne. Thank you.

      December 13, 2015
  2. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    I never heard “dunny” before. Your dunny is what we call an outhouse, privy or water closet in the U.S. and I’m sure there are other names.

    Interesting post, Leanne, as always. Beautiful pictures. Stay cool.

    December 13, 2015
    • It is a very Australian word, going to the dunny, but yes, pretty much means all those things. haha.
      Thanks Jackie, oh I hope too.

      December 13, 2015
  3. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

    Reblogged this on The Artistic Spider's Web and commented:
    Weekend Wanderings: Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement
    written by Leanne Cole

    December 13, 2015
  4. You obviously weren’t impressed but it was interesting to see a little glimpse of the past. So I enjoyed the photographs.

    December 13, 2015
    • I wouldn’t say I wasn’t impressed, it was the fact that they don’t seem to value anything of age there, unless it is in the Pioneer Settlement, but even there, some of their choices were a bit confusing. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the place more if the weather had been cooler. Thanks

      December 13, 2015
  5. Shame about that paddle wheeler being altered. It seems we have become addicted to creature comforts like air conditioning, which in turn confine our experiences to the places that offer them. Getting out of our comforts zones leads to new perspectives and discoveries about ourselves and the world around us.

    December 13, 2015
    • Very well said, it should be about that, you go to places like that to see what it was like, but then all these creature comforts are there as well. Thanks.

      December 13, 2015
  6. Years since I have been in Swan Hill .. Super images

    December 13, 2015
    • You probably would hardly recognize it now Julie, I hardly do and I grew up around it. Thanks.

      December 13, 2015
  7. I wonder if the lack of development or maintenance is a matter of not having enough money in a small town. We enjoyed our visit to the Pioneer Village a few years ago.

    December 13, 2015
    • It isn’t the lack of development Carol, there is lots of that going on, tearing down old historic buildings and building ugly modern ones in their place. Swan Hill is a large place, ten thousand people. It is a fun place, but I wish they would consider that it is meant to be an old settlement, so why include all the mod cons, so to speak. Thanks Carol.

      December 13, 2015
  8. I would love th visit that place. Looks like fun. Nice photos Leanne.

    December 13, 2015
    • If you ever get there Sherry don’t go on a hot day, thank you.

      December 13, 2015
  9. Well, you captured some old buildings. I like the shot of the row of shops. Some places like that in Canada (look best when the snow is there!)

    December 13, 2015
    • Oh snow would be nice, but it never snows there, but I imagine it would be gorgeous in fog. Thank you.

      December 13, 2015
  10. I really relate to this, Leanne. After living in France for years, I find it difficult to understand Australian’s obsession with re-building, re-fitting and making things ugly! I miss the 4oo year old houses with sagging walls and hand-forged window catches, the 1950’s tractors and wooden carts used in everyday life and the amazing light filtering through a single window into a ricketty cottage. Fortunately there are things that we get right.

    December 13, 2015
    • I think a lot of places are catching on, and are realizing that photographers will travel a long way to capture photos of things, but not enough, and it is too late for Swan Hill. I would go to Echuca, they haven’t done that and they try to keep that aspect of them being a paddle steamer port, which is lovely. Thanks Jeni.

      December 13, 2015
  11. It is sad to see they torn down all the old buildings and replace it with new ones. they would look beautiful and graceful with old characteristic buildings. Fabulous photos and thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Sunday, Leanne.

    December 13, 2015
    • I think the same Cattan, that they don’t seem to realize that they are destroying the history of the place. Thanks Cattan, you have a good one too.

      December 13, 2015
  12. We stopped at Echuca years ago and as you say, it had more authenticity to it than Swan Hill appears to. I’ll save my time and not bother with Swan Hill! Thanks Leanne.

    December 13, 2015
    • Yes, I think the same Ardysez, Swan Hill seems to not want to celebrate its history. You’re welcome.

      December 13, 2015
  13. Thanks enjoyed your photos Merry Christmas Regards Bear

    December 13, 2015
    • Thank you and Merry Christmas to you too.

      December 15, 2015
  14. Few of your pictures reminds me of sets in Universal Studio, LA. The exterior, colors, typography collectively takes one to the past. Your narrative really makes me feel bad about the town.

    December 13, 2015
    • Oh yes, I can understand that, like a set for old movies. You shouldn’t feel bad, it is just disappointing to see not many old things. Thanks.

      December 14, 2015
  15. I love those restored old villages. We have quite near hear and a few others not very far away, all 16th and 17th century. You just reminded me that we should make a Christmas excursion to Sturbridge Village. Well, maybe not. Too close to Arizona … good to see new stuff from you. It’s gotten awfully busy around here!!

    December 14, 2015
    • Sounds like a good idea Marilyn, I hope you enjoy it. Why does it matter how close to Arizona it is. It is here too, Christmas can be bad for that reason. Thank you.

      December 14, 2015
  16. It is sad to think that we would want to have all the modern amenities when those pioneers had to endure so much more and with much heavier clothes as well. Nice photos.

    December 14, 2015
    • I couldn’t agree more Raewyn, kind of takes away the authenticity of it all really. Thank you.

      December 14, 2015
  17. Looks like a fun place to spend the day.

    December 14, 2015
    • It is a great place to take kids Colline, they love it.

      December 14, 2015
  18. Amy #

    I really enjoyed the tour. Your photos tell the lives and stories pf pioneer settlement.

    December 15, 2015
    • That’s great Amy, thank you.

      December 15, 2015

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