Ipswich Heritage Day is celebrating 150 years of the Cooneana Homestead on 26 August.
A big family day is planned by the Ipswich Historical Society. Ipswich First spoke to blacksmith Ned Kelly who spends most of his time practicing the ancient art in the blacksmith shop.

Ned Kelly describes himself as an old fossil out in the back shed having fun.

His idea of fun is to spend 305 hours building a forge made of Ipswich heritage bricks.

Twelve-hundred bricks have gone into the 19th century forge sourced from about six different manufacturers.

“We were walking around the boundary and we came across a big pile of bricks, half covered in dirt with grass growing through it,” Mr Kelly said.

“They were dirty and chipped a lot of them were ruined, but I did some research and discovered all the bricks are over 100 years old which adds to the heritage value of the forge.

“The bricks are all different sizes so it was a challenge to lay them too.

“Some of the bricks are Heart bricks and there were right here in New Chum. The brickworks closed down in 1920. Some of the bricks are sandstock which makes them at least 130 years old.”

A few hundred years ago, a forge in a blacksmith’s shop was an imposing thing that needed to be large enough to put wagon wheels on and large metal objects. Mr Kelly’s forge is based on one of those found that may have been found in an industrial forge in England, Europe or America made of bricks and stone.

Even the clay motif (pictured below) has its own amazing local history.

They were donated to the Ipswich Historical Society years ago from Brynhyfryd Castle in Blackstone.

“I found a wheelbarrow load of them on site. Most were all broken into pieces which is why there are seams running through them. I managed to get four completely back together,” Mr Kelly said.

The forge is at the end of the blacksmith’s shop and is surrounded by iron left over from the Cooneana Homestead which is under renovation.

Mr Kelly has thought of everything. Around the back of the forge he has laid the bricks on their side so their maker’s mark can be seen.

“People can stand here and look at the old bricks. We have tried to capture all the heritage and haven’t spoilt it,” he said.

Standing by the large forge, feeling the heat pour off it and listening to the rhythmic clangs of the blacksmith’s hammer, it takes no imagination at all to be transported back a few hundred years or more.

Cooneana Homestead history

The land that Cooneana was built on and still stands, was purchased from a sale of Crown Land, Selection Number 18 for a sum of 160 punds in 1868. The exact date of construction is unknown. The first reference to it is in church records as an address for the family in 1884.

The original property was 557 acres, Portion 283, Ipswich district, County of Stanley, Parish of Goodna. The homestead was built with pit sawn iron bark timber taken from trees on the property.

The owner, Samuel P Welsby came to Australia on the ship ‘Fortitude’ in 1849 and was a teacher. He also ran regular religious services in Ipswich.

His daughter Elizabeth, married Christopher Charles Cameron in 1866 and they lived at Cooneana. The eldest of their four children, Pearson, was Ipswich’s mayor in 1917.

Cooneana is currently being restored and will be open to the public on the Ipswich Heritage Day.

Ipswich Heritage Day, celebrating Cooneana Homestead’s 150th anniversary

Ipswich history presentations
Blacksmith demonstrations
Ipswich vintage machinery club
Queensland metal artisans collective
Historic motorcycles
Ipswich hospital museum
Ipswich genealogy society
Spinners and weavers
Ipswich mens shed
Calligraphy demonstration
Model railway display
Refreshments on sale include soft drinks, morning teas, a sausage sizzle and traditional meat pies.

Sunday 26 August, 10am – 2pm
Entry $5 per person (cash only), children under 12 free
Cooneana Heritage Centre, Redbank Plains Road, New Chum