For lovers of history and those interested in bush culture Seaton’s Farm located close to Ben Hall’s Cave campground is on the north west of the Weddin Mountain National Park. The farm is an important landmark that was built using only material that was readily available. Seaton’s Farm is 150 acres of poor country running up into the Weddin Mountains.
The farm was purchased in 1936 at the height of the Great Depression. The house was built in 1939 by Jim Seaton and his father from second hand iron, mill off-cuts, mud earth and hand-cut timber. Jim’s frugalness is evident with corrugated iron having been flattened to make it go further, sheets of iron turned into down pipes and gutters feeding into recycled water tanks and the fencing being made of off cuts joined together. Jim and his father dug the dams by hand while Jim’s mother made a garden.
On a bicycle trip to Mudgee in 1948 Jim met a waitress called Bertha, after a two week courtship they married and Bertha moved to the Weddin Mountains with Jim. After many years they gradually developed the farm by hand from scraps and second hand supplies. Bertha and Jim had no family, to them their pet dogs, cats, lambs and chickens were their family. For about 20 years the Seaton’s used a Model T Ford to cart grain and travel in the district. The vehicle was affectionately known as ‘Lizzy’ and became a legend in the district because it was so loud you would often hear it coming before you ever saw it.
Jim earned a good reputation for his honesty, respect and hard work. He had many odd jobs other than the farm including rabbit trapping, fencing, shearing and timber felling. Bertha was just as involved around the farm as Jim and she used to climb to the top of the tree to cut branches for the stock to eat. These climbing spikes are still visible on the trunks of many trees around the farm.
Jim died in 1983 and this was when Bertha sold the property to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Bertha moved to Grenfell and grew her fingernails long and painted them bright colours – something she was never able to do while working so hard on the farm. Bertha lived a hard but happy life and passed away in 2002.
Seaton’s Farm is a fascinating testimony to manual skill and ingenuity and to a great partnership on the economic edge. The farm gives a sense of Jim Seaton as a person, a man who didn’t have much money but knew how a property should operate. Farm machinery, sheds and yards still exist virtually unchanged however excellent interpretive signage has now been installed.
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