Carngham Research undertakes projects involving research, documentation, and advocacy in relation to heritage places - historic buildings and towns, landscapes and geological structures, as well as significant gardens and trees.


Belmont Estate, Raglan, Victoria

  • Photographic documentation of historic rural property [2019]

Above: View to garden from lych gate. Photograph: T. Pitkin

Belmont, established in 1858 by James Watkin, is an outstanding and significant property, a rare survivor of a small rural estate and its associated way of life. The landscape of Belmont contains substantial evidence of garden, orchard and vineyard and associated buildings. The Watkin family has held the estate to the current day, presently with Mrs Jocelyn Reid, the great grand daughter of the founder.

This project comprised three components: rephotography of heritage prints of Belmont scenes from the nineteenth century; a contemporary set of images covering the homestead, the rural buildings and and the grounds; and scenes of shearing taken in mid 2019. Notes for each component were prepared with the present owner. These photographs are now held by the State Library of Victoria, and have been published on the Australian Garden History website.  

Pictorial - Belmont - Australian Garden History Society

Newman College, University of Melbourne

  • Photographic documentation of significant architecture [2016] 
Interior view of refectory dome. 
 Above: Interior view of refectory dome. Photograph: T. Pitkin

Newman College is internationally recognised as an outstanding example of architect Walter Burley Griffin's distinctive style. The building has a strong geometric sculptural form, which blends organically and harmoniously with the park landscape designed by Marion Mahony Griffin.  The m
ost striking feature is the domed refectory made from reinforced concrete. Newman College demonstrates Griffin’s ability to design every aspect of a building, down to the finest detail, including all fittings, fixtures and furniture. 

  • Exhibition "John Kauffmann at Newman College: How an art photographer saw the work of Walter Burley Griffin"   [2019].

Above: Photograph by John Kauffman (left); re-photography by T. Pitkin (right)

In 1918 John Kauffmann was commissioned to photograph the recently completed Newman College. Kauffmann was one of Australia's leading proponents of "art photography" where the photographer uses the medium for creative expression.

Carngham Research worked collaboratively with the College on an exhibition to put these images on public display for the first time in 100 years. This involved developing the exhibition concept, selecting Kauffmann images for display, re-photography of subject matter to provide a then-and-now perspective, research and writing of exhibition label text, and designing the physical layout within the display space. 

System Garden, University of Melbourne

  • Advocacy for heritage garden at risk [2016-2017]
View of remaining conservatory structure and segmented beds. 
 Above: View of remaining conservatory structure and segmented beds. Photograph: T. Pitkin

The System Garden was established in 1856, and arranged to represent the entire botanic world in microcosm. Displaying plants in this way allowed students to see the similarities and differences in form and flower structure between members of the same family.

This unique site has been incrementally encroached upon over many decades of building. An advocacy campaign to protect the remaining garden was initiated in response to the university’s plan to build over even more of the original garden. The campaign to raise community awareness of the prospective loss of a piece of Victoria’s garden history was actioned through newspaper and journal articles as well as social media. 

Trevor Pitkin. "The historians, the polymath, the impresario and their system garden" Australian Garden History 28 (2) October 2016
Bridie Smith. "Fears Melbourne's 'sacred botanical site' could shrink, taking a slice of history with it." The Age. 29 November 2016

  • Input to draft master plan [2017] 

Despite the outcry, the university proceeded with building over the garden. They did, however, initiate a landscape master planning project, which was undertaken by Glas Landscape Architects.  

Carngham Research was invited to participate in the stakeholder consultation phase of the project. During the interview process, our particular views of descriptions of the significance and history of the garden were provided.

Government House garden and grounds, Melbourne

  • Original research exploring the design of the grounds of the future government house [2017]
Government House, Melbourne 1874. State Library Victoria 
  Above: Government House, Melbourne, 1874. Photographer unknown, possibly Dr. G. Wolfram. Collection State Library Victoria

Designing of the grounds and gardens attached to Government House represented the most challenging and high profile landscaping task of the early 1870s. In 1872 a notice was published in the Victorian government gazette inviting designs but none of the 28 responses were deemed acceptable. Subsequently Joseph Sayce, a banker from Caulfield, also known as an amateur horticulturist and landscape gardener, submitted an unsolicited design to the government. His plan was well received and later adopted.

Little was known about his background and how he came to devise the scheme he proposed to the government. Research was undertaken into Sayce’s origins in England and subsequent life in Victoria. This work resulted in an article that was published in the AGHS Journal.  

Trevor Pitkin. "Traces of Sayce". Australian Garden History. 29 (2), October 2017

Carngham Presbyterian Church, Snake Valley, Victoria

  • Photographic documentation of heritage building [2016] 
Exterior view of church 
  Above: Exterior view of church. Photograph: T. Pitkin

The Carngham Presbyterian Church (now Uniting Church) is a significant landmark at the northern approach to the township of Snake Valley. Modelled on the Scots Church in Melbourne and built in 1892, it was gifted by Phillip Russell of Carngham Station to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his arrival in Victoria. The building has an impressive interior, including the original 1893 pipe organ by Fincham and Hobday.

To supplement the minimal photographic documentation of the church that was publicly available, an extensive photographic project was begun. This work comprised three themes: the interior; the exterior of the building with an emphasis on architectural details; and the grounds. A selection of these photographs is now held by the State Library of Victoria.  

Kenloch estate, Olinda, Victoria

  • Photographic documentation of historic building [2017] 
View of facade and garden. 
  Above: View of facade and garden. Photograph: T. Pitkin

This property has significant scientific, historical and aesthetic values.
The original landowner was C H Kauper who established an arboretum on the property, sourcing tree specimens through his connection with F Von Mueller, Director of Botanic Gardens at the time. By 1919 the property had passed to Thomas Kennon, a prominent businessman, who built the substantial dwelling and established the extensive gardens. Between 2006 and 2016 the house underwent major restoration to return it to its former glory. 

To supplement the minimal photographic documentation of the estate that was publicly available, an extensive photographic project was begun. A selection of these photographs is now held by the State Library of Victoria.

Domain Parklands, Melbourne

  • Feedback on draft master plan [2018]

Domain Parklands comprises five contiguous green spaces (Royal Botanic Gardens, Shrine of Remembrance, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Alexandra Gardens, Kings Domain) and represent the most significant landscaped area in the city. In 2018 the City of Melbourne began developing a 20 year plan to prepare the parklands to meet the needs of current and future generations. As part of the community engagement phase, written feedback was sought.

Carngham Research made a formal submission with particular emphasis on two of the five themes of the plan: acknowledging history and cultural heritage; and supporting exceptional visitor experience.

Mt Emu, Western District, Victoria

  • Photographic documentation of significant landform [2016]
 Detail of southern aspect  
  Above: Detail of southern aspect. Photograph: T. Pitkin

Mt Emu is a prominent granitic hill that rises from the western volcanic plains north east of Skipton to the west of Ballarat. Large bulbous outcrops stud the surface of the rise and these granite protrusions on the mid to upper slopes form an intriguing visual contrast with the surrounding open, windswept pastoral land.

Photographic documentation of the southern and eastern sides of the landform was undertaken.

Tennis Pavilion, Labassa, Caulfield, Victoria

  • Photographic documentation of restored structure [2016]
 Column and bracket detail.   
 Above: Column and bracket detail. Photograph: T. Pitkin

his tennis pavilion dating from 1890 is believed to be the only surviving 19th century private tennis pavilion in Victoria. Built by Alexander Robertson as part of his extensive property known as Ontario (later to be renamed Labassa by subsequent owner John Watson). The grounds were subdivided for residential buildings from the 1920s onwards. Subsequently the pavilion was surrounded by houses, and disappeared from public view. The National Trust purchased the mansion in 1980 and later recovered the pavilion, which had been neglected for many decades in a suburban backyard.

Photographs were taken of the restored tennis pavilion after it was re-erected near the mansion.

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