I have spent a fair amount of my time on Australian farms over the past few decades, both as part of my job and because that is where I was living at the time. Most rural holdings had unremarkable buildings and were surrounded by ordinary farmland. However, every now and again, I came across one that was different for some reason. It may have been a bizarre object or artefact, squirreled away in a forgotten outhouse or a machine left abandoned in a back paddock – its tyres flat and life totally extinguished.
Old haysheds are a particular favourite as they often defy gravity – leaning precariously to one side, with only a few strands of ‘cocky’s twine’ holding things together. [In Australia, a cocky is another name for a farmer and the universal twine on a farm is wire!]
I once came across a shed which was out on its own, in the middle of a vast expanse of cultivated paddocks and it contained a very old, vintage motor car! There were no lanes leading to the shed or any signs of activity, so the vehicle must have been there for quite some time. I had no idea who owned the car or why it had been left in such an odd place.
Equally intriguing is an old traction engine which still belongs to a family member. It has been abandoned in a back paddock for many decades and no one I have spoken to can remember it being used. However, on the same farm, another similar engine was restored and used some 35 years ago. Perhaps parts were pilfered from this lovely old machine way back then and she has been cast aside, unwanted, since that time.
Steam driven traction engines were used extensively on farms to run drive belts for all sorts of things. They were rarely used to tow or move things though, because they were very heavy and bogged easily. From about 1850 through to the early 1900s they were popular for providing an energy source for things like grain threshing machines.
The old traction engine shown in these photos is slowly being consumed by mother nature. Lichens and algae have left remarkable and very beautiful colours all over the exposed iron parts. Brilliant lime greens and vivid oranges compete with the greys of the lichens and the rusty colours of the iron. I am not really fond of farm implements, but I do think this delightful old machine is one of a kind. I had a lot of fun photographing it from every which way, trying to capture something of the hard work it must have done in its time.
It will certainly never run again. Parts have corroded and wooden components have rotted away in the weather.
Ailsa from “Where’s my backpack” has posed a Travel Challenge this week based on circles. The photos of this traction engine readily came to mind as it has so many pipes and round fittings (including big tyreless wheels) – all of which are circular in shape.