H.E. the Maltese High Commissioner to Australia Mario Farrugia Borg used his current trip to Malta to schedule a visit to the ongoing Din l-Art Helwa project to restore the Australian Bungalow.
This century-old structure was sent to various Commonwealth countries to help familiarise emigrants with the way of life in Australia – as well as with building methods used.
“I was delighted yesterday to be invited by Din l-Art Ħelwa to visit the Australian Bungalow project in Ta’ Qali. The bungalow was sent from Australia in the 1920s to give prospective migrants the opportunity to familiarise themselves with their future environment in Australia and to learn about timber construction methods.
“Over time, it was unfortunately left to deteriorate but it is now thankfully being meticulously restored, ensuring we do not lost such an important artefact of Malta and Australia’s common heritage. Looking forward to visit again in the future, hopefully a completed project by my next visit home!” the High Commissioner posted on social media after his visit.
He was shown around Ta’ Qali by the project leader and volunteer Joseph Philip Farrugia, DLĦ executive president Alex Torpiano, and the head of the main contractor Chillis Chilli, Alan Debattista. They also visited one of the subcontractors entrusted by Chillis Chilli with part of the restoration.
While there, the High Commissioner pointed out a piece of wood crowning the roof, which raised considerable interest:
“His comment about the traditional carved straight wooden staff over the centre of the pitched roof was valuable. We’ll look into it further for future reference in our literature about the building,” Mr Farrugia promised.
The High Commissioner’s interest will no doubt help the NGO to spread the word about the project in Australia. Mr Torpiano commented: “The work on the restoration of the Australian Bungalow is but the physical part of Din l-Art Ħelwa’s ambition for this artefact. The other is to collate and present the story of their emigration of Maltese and Gozitans to Australia, and we are grateful for offer of assistance of the High Commission of Malta in Australia to bring us into contact with our community over there.”
The project is being sponsored by the Melita Foundation and involved a thorough analysis of the structure – which was at the time in Ghamm ieri. Although some parts could be saved, others required restoration or replacement.
The Bungalow will shortly be re-assembled at Ta’ Qali, where it will be more accessible to the public. Completion of this project is expected in just a few weeks. It will be used to raise awareness about this important part of the islands’ history, and to pay tribute to the Maltese community in Australia.