What is significant? The Walkerville Lime Kilns and the associated remnant site features including the jetty, tramway, quarry, cemetery and archaeological remains of the township are situated on the western shores of Waratah Bay between Cape Liptrap and Wilson's Promontory, approximately 180 km south-east of Melbourne. In 1850s a ship named SS Waratah captained by William Bell, became disabled with a damaged rudder while rounding Wilson's Promontory on its way between Sydney and Melbourne, and sought shelter in the bay and reported it to be a good, safe anchorage; thus giving rise to the name Waratah Bay.
In 1875 William Millar a local farmer, who had leased land at Yanakie, reported the existence of deposits of limestone in the cliffs around Waratah Bay. Lime burning leases were issued in 1874 to Miller and partners W.R. Kissane, J. Read, H.F. Urich, R. Bright, I. Newbery, and William. Wischer. They called the enterprise Waratah Bay Lime, Marble and Cement Company Limited. In 1875 Millar approached the firm of Bright Bros., shipping agents in Melbourne, and suggested they invest in a scheme to build lime kilns close to the stone and produce quick lime. Mining began in 1878. Bright Bros. operated the kilns successfully for several years then sold the operation to Wischer, who engaged James Dewar as the works manager. In 1880 William Froggart Walker, who was the Commissioner for Customs in Melbourne, went into partnership with Wischer and it was after Walker that Walkerville was named. In 1895 Mr A. A. McCrae acquired the business and operated the kilns until about 1923, when they were purchased by Mr W. Hughes and with his son Jim, he carried on lime burning until the kilns closed in 1926 due to reduced demand and increased transport costs. As no other employment was available in the vicinity the employees left the township to find work elsewhere, taking their families with them, leaving Waratah almost deserted.
At the peak of production, around 1890, up to eighty men were employed either directly or indirectly in the mining of lime. As these workers settled on the shores of Waratah Bay they built cottages for their wives and families and within a few years a busy township had developed with a Post Office, School and General Store. It was reported that at the turn of the century the lime industry at Waratah supported fifty families.
Kilns: Six kilns (numbered 1-6 from south to north) were constructed at Walkerville. Each kiln was about 40 feet deep, brick lined and tapering to a narrow neck at the base, where a grate opened into the back of a large shed. The kilns were built separately, some distance apart, faced with local stone (granite and basalt) and each had its own storage and packing shed. The shafts were supported by a high vertical stone wall across the front, which itself was supported by two long retaining walls extending outward at an angle from each end of the vertical rear wall. At the base of the vertical facade is a brick-lined arched chamber or vault, 2. 5 m wide, 2 m deep and at least 2 m high leading to a small semicircular draw hole in the rear wall, through which the burned lime could be extracted from the shaft. The rear wall of the vault, above the draw hole is corbelled outward to accommodate the widening diameter of the shaft behind it. The corbelled brick courses are strengthened by three horizontal iron tie-beams. Socket holes for wooden beams can be seen in the inside faces of both retaining walls, which also bear traces of the line of a sloping roof over the area between the retaining walls. Today the remains of the six kilns at Walkerville are still discernable, but in different states of intactness. None of the kilns retain any structural remains of the front bagging areas. Parts of kiln 5 were reconstructed in 1992. A retaining wall protects the area in front of the kiln and the working area has been resurfaced with concrete. The major part of the external structure of kiln 6 has collapsed, revealing the brick internal lining of the shaft. Bricks were brought in by ship although some doubt exists as to their origin. The absence of suitable clay deposits nearby would tend to rule out local manufacture. But some bricks have been salvaged from the kilns with the markings W. B. embossed on them, possibly denoting that they were made at a small kiln at Waratah Bay. A blacksmiths forge, stables for the horses and storage sheds for the lime were situated adjacent to the kilns.
Jetty: A jetty made of timber hauled in by bullock dray from the Ten Mile area was constructed at Waratah Bay for the lime industry. The jetty was about 400 yards long and to avoid the reef the jetty was constructed with several curves. The jetty was fitted with iron rails and lever operated points and horse drawn flat tray trucks were used for hauling goods to and from ships. All that is left of the jetty is one pylon, standing on the beach. The length of the jetty allowed the large ships to moor for loading.
Tramway: To facilitate the cartage of lime to the kilns a track was cut along the face of the cliff and tram tracks laid on sleepers were installed. The tramway embankment running between the quarry and the kilns is still visible although there is little physical evidence of the tramlines, other than a length of single track protruding from the cliff between the kilns and the quarry. Melba and Mac, the old draught horses, pulled the flat topped trolleys of bagged lime along the tramway lines to the ships sides. A narrow gauge tram line was laid from the head of the kilns to the bluff, a distance of approximately 500m. This was used for hauling the limestone and an extension of this line for upwards of a mile was used for obtaining firewood for the kilns.
Quarry: The limestone came from cliffs immediately around Walkerville. The main quarry lies immediately north of the kilns at Walkerville. As well as the export of quick lime a large quantity of lime stone was shipped to Sydney and to Lakes Entrance. Quick lime is produced from burning of limestone. It is the main ingredient in several building materials including mortar, lime cement, whitewash and plaster. The geological surveyor's report (Striling, 1894) mentions that from 1878 to 1894, the lime output was 1,000774 bags obtained from two acres of quarry. Further he states, "There is practically an unlimited supply yet available at Bell Point and Point Grinder. The Kilns are well built and every facility has been made for direct shipment. The lime from Walkerville was used to build Flinders Street Station.
Township : The town consisted of numerous workers cottages, school, Post Office, general store, Coffee Palace, Hall (Noah's Ark), Life Saving Rocket House, Black Smith Workshop, stables and various sheds. Most of these buildings were located at the base of the cliff above the high water mark. Evidence of houses can still be seen at the top of the cliff to the north-west of the kilns, and on the slopes to the south-west. The remains of a fireplace have been included in the retaining wall constructed for the car park area. This is reported to be the kitchen chimney of James Dewar, who was manager of the kiln works in the 1880s. Remains of workers' cottages can be seen at the top of the cliff north-west of the kilns, and on the slopes south west of the kilns. A modern road behind the kilns is built on the site of the old track which originally led to the tops of the shaft of each kiln.
Cemetery: A small cemetery was established on a hillside north of the township overlooking Bluff Creek. It contains the graves of local lime burning identities and their families, including the headstone of James Dewar. Of the approximately 30 graves that are represented in the cemetery, all facing east, only about six are marked. The headstones that are recognisable indicate the names of the early residents. The last burial occurred in 1926.
Wrecks: Several of the ships that called for the quick lime were wrecked in storms in and around the bay before a lighthouse were established on a rocky headland above bird rock.
How is it significant? The Walkerville Lime Kilns are of historical, scientific (technological) and archaeological significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Historical - The Walkerville Lime Kilns are historically important and serve as visible reminders of the former lime burning industry that flourished at Waratah Bay between the 1880s and 1920s. The kilns demonstrate the former lime burning operation at the township Walkerville that was purpose built as a mining town. The lime kilns at Walkerville are historically important as it is the only site with the range of associated site features. The Walkerville lime kilns are historically important as they are the only group kiln complex in the State dating to the period of lime burning between the 1880s and 1920s. The Walkerville lime kilns are historically significant in that they provide evidence of the largest and longest lived commercial lime burning sites in Victoria.
Scientific - The Walkerville lime kilns are scientifically (technically) important as a rare and early example of the lime burning industry where the technique and processes of lime burning can still be interpreted through the remnant buildings, structures and remnant in situ remains.
Archaeological - The Walkerville lime kilns are archaeologically significant for their potential to contain important in situ remains and relics relating to lime burning and the activities of the community assocaited with this industry. Other site features, such as the school house, tramway and cemetery also have the potential to contain archaeologically significant deposits.
The Walkerville Lime Kilns site contains the remians of six kilns, which are built into the cliffs adjacent to Walkerville South Beach. Kion No 5 is the most intact and some stabilisation works have been carried ot. Six kilns were constructed in close proximity to the lime deposits. The kilns are constructed in brick and stone into the sides of the cliff, which allowed for the kiln shaft to be easily accessible from the escarpment top for loading of both fuel and limestone from a horse drawn tramway that formerly ran along the clifftop.
Kiln No 5 is the most intact and demonstrates some of the distinctive features of the design, which was typical for its time, consisted of shafts that tapered at the bottom. The front of each shaft was supported by a high vertical stone wall, braced by a pair of retaining wing walls, which extended outward at an angle. These wing walls once supported wooden beams, across which a sloping roof was placed to provide a protected working area immediately at the front of the kiln. A brick lined, arched vault provided access to the semi-circular darw hole located at the base of each kiln; through which the lime was removed.
Other evidence of the lime burning operation include the remnant piles of the former jetty on the beach and in the water, while pieces of iron and other material from the tramway that once ran along the escarpment above the kilns can be seen on the beach. There are ruins of former workers cottages preserved in situ in various places along the foreshore.
William Millar constructed the Walkerville Lime Kilns in 1878 following the discovery of lime deposits in the area in 1875. It is believed that the kilns were built by Bright Brothers of Melbourne (who operated a chipping agency), who entered into a partnership with William H Wischer to develop the enterprise.
Six kilns were constructed in cose proximity to the lime deposits and the first load of lime sent to Melbourne on the ship Blackboy was destroyed by fire before reaching Melbourne, although the ship itself was saved. Despite this initial setback, the Waratah Bay Lime Kilns went on to become the most successful in Gippsland. The majority of lime was snet to Melbourne, but shipments were also made to Sydney, as well as to more local destinations such as Lakes Entrance.
In 1881, the Bright Brothers sold their interest to William Walker, then Commissioner of Customs of Melbourne. Walker died in 1890 and in 1894 the company operating the kilns was registered under the name Waratah Lime and Cement Co.
Production at the Walkerville Lime Kilns reached its peak in the ealry 1890s when up to 80 men were employed at the kilns in quarrying or woodcutting. By 1900 this number had declined to 50 and by the end of World War I, lime had been replaced by other building materials, particularly concrete. In 1926, the Walkerville Lime Kilns were closed and the town was effectively deserted.
General Conditions: 1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.General Conditions: 2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and the Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible. Note: All archaeological places have the potential to contain significant sub-surface artefacts and other remains. In most cases it will be necessary to obtain approval from Heritage Victoria before the undertaking any works that have a significant sub-surface component.General Conditions: 3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it. Note: The existence of a Conservation Management Plan or a Heritage Action Plan endorsed by Heritage Victoria provides guidance for the management of the heritage values associated with the site. It may not be necessary to obtain a heritage permit for certain works specified in the management plan.General Conditions: 4. Nothing in this determination prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.General Conditions: 5. Nothing in this determination exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authorities where applicable.Regular Site Maintenance : The following site maintenance works are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) regular site maintenance provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground features or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) the maintenance of an item to retain its conditions or operation without the removal of or damage to the existing fabric or the introduction of new materials; c) cleaning including the removal of surface deposits, organic growths, or graffiti by the use of low pressure water and natural detergents and mild brushing and scrubbing; d) repairs, conservation and maintenance to plaques, memorials, roads and paths, fences and gates and drainage and irrigation. e) the replacement of existing services such as cabling, plumbing, wiring and fire services that uses existing routes, conduits or voids, and does not involve damage to or the removal of significant fabric. Note: Surface patina which has developed on the fabric may be an important part of the item’s significance and if so needs to be preserved during maintenance and cleaning. Note: Any new materials used for repair must not exacerbate the decay of existing fabric due to chemical incompatibility, obscure existing fabric or limit access to existing fabric for future maintenance. Repair must maximise protection and retention of fabric and include the conservation of existing details or elements.Fire Suppression Duties : The following fire suppression duties are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) Fire suppression and fire fighting duties provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground features or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) Fire suppression activities such as fuel reduction burns, and fire control line construction, provided all significant historical and archaeological features are appropriately recognised and protected; Note: Fire management authorities should be aware of the location, extent and significance of historical and archaeological places when developing fire suppression and fire fighting strategies. The importance of places listed in the Heritage Register must be considered when strategies for fire suppression and management are being developed.Weed and Vermin Control : The following weed and vermin control activities are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) Weed and vermin control activities provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground features or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; Note: Particular care must be taken with weed and vermin control works where such activities may have a detrimental affect on the significant fabric of a place. Such works may include the removal of ivy, moss or lichen from an historic structure or feature, or the removal of burrows from a site that has archaeological values.
Landscape Maintenance : The following landscape maintenance works are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) landscape maintenance works provided the activities do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground features or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) The process of gardening; mowing, hedge clipping, bedding displays, removal of dead plants, disease and weed control, emergency and safety garden works; c)Removal of plants listed as noxious weeds in the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994; d) Vegetation protection and management of the possum and rabbit population; e) Management of trees (including pruning)in accordance with Australian Standard; Pruning of Amenity Trees AS 4373.
Public Safety and Security : The following public safety and security activities are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) public safety and security activities provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground structures or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) the erection of temporary security fencing, scaffolding, hoardings or surveillance systems to prevent unauthorised access or secure public safety which will not adversely affect significant fabric of the place including archaeological features; c) development including emergency stabilisation necessary to secure safety where a site feature has been irreparably damaged or destabilised and represents a safety risk to its users or the public. Note: Urgent or emergency site works are to be undertaken by an appropriately qualified specialist such as a structural engineer, or other heritage professional.Signage and Site Interpretation : The following Signage and Site Interpretation activities are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) signage and site interpretation activities provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground structures or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) the erection of non-illuminated signage for the purpose of ensuring public safety or to assist in the interpretation of the heritage significance of the place or object and which will not adversely affect significant fabric including landscape or archaeological features of the place or obstruct significant views of and from heritage values or items; c) signage and site interpretation products must be located and be of a suitable size so as not to obscure or damage significant fabric of the place; d) signage and site interpretation products must be able to be later removed without causing damage to the significant fabric of the place; Note: The development of signage and site interpretation products must be consistent in the use of format, text, logos, themes and other display materials. Note: Where possible, the signage and interpretation material should be consistent with other schemes developed on similar or associated sites. It may be necessary to consult with land managers and other stakeholders concerning existing schemes and strategies for signage and site interpretation.Mineral Exploration : The following Mineral Exploration activities are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) mineral Exploration activities provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground features or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) preliminary non-intrusive exploration, including geological mapping, geophysical surveys, and geochemical sampling and access to shafts and adits; c) advanced forms of exploration (drilling), including the location of drill pads and access tracks where this has been the subject of on-site negotiation and agreement with representatives of Heritage Victoria, DSE and Parks Victoria, and where all significant historic site features have been identified and protected as part of an approved work plan.Minor Works : Note: Any Minor Works that in the opinion of the Executive Director will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the place may be exempt from the permit requirements of the Heritage Act. A person proposing to undertake minor works may submit a proposal to the Executive Director. If the Executive Director is satisfied that the proposed works will not adversely affect the heritage values of the site, the applicant may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a heritage permit. If an applicant is uncertain whether a heritage permit is required, it is recommended that the permits co-ordinator be contacted.
The purpose of the permit exemptions is to allow works that do not impact on the heritage significance of the place to occur without the need for a permit. The Walkerville Lime Kilns and the related archaeological features contribute in a fundamental way to an understanding of the historical, scientific and archaeological significance of the site. It is important that any proposed changes or alterations to the features identified in the Extent of Registration are considered and assessed on the basis of clearly defined plans or proposals and must be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or relics. All archaeological places have the potential to contain significant sub-surface artefacts and other remains. The archaeological remains of the Walkerville Lime Kilns site have the capacity to reveal evidence associated with the past occupation and activities of the site. These remains and other historical documentary sources contribute to an understanding of this important archaeological and heritage place.