Man of the land sheds light on Hunter heritage

JEFF Wolfgang, of Denman, once lived in a convict-built hotel in Jerrys Plains, the Queen Victoria.

It was damaged by fire then demolished in 1980, another big loss for Upper Hunter history and the kind Mr Wolfgang does not like to see.

He caught the collecting bug after finding a convict's ball and chain under the floorboards in the old building and has a large collection of Hunter Valley pieces.

"I don't like seeing history scrapped," Mr Wolfgang said.

He has other convict-era pieces such as man-traps, which were used to deter escapees, and a bed bearing the broad arrow symbol.

Mr Wolfgang was born in Denman and farmed in the district before he closed his dairy in 2002.

His collection fills his biggest shed, which measures 1600 square metres, and all the smaller ones he has built on his farm.

The collection is destined for Denman's proposed heritage village but in the meantime Mr Wolfgang shows people his cars, motorcycles and farming machinery.

His favorite piece is the English-made gas-fired engine that once drove the Singleton gas works then the presses of The Budget, a Singleton newspaper from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"It has two horsepower but weighs a tonne," Mr Wolfgang said.

He said he rescued it from the wreckers but not before all the brass fittings had been stripped.

"I would love to get it running before I die," Mr Wolfgang said.

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