Recent News

New opening hours

New garden exhibition

Westgarthtown Settler Stories

Open House & Garden 2018

Museum Accreditation

Drawing from the past

Curios from yesteryear

This Thomo Life

Westgarthtown & WW1

Open House & Garden 2015

Cemetery Tours

Open Garden 2013

Coxy's Big Break

Seeking volunteers

Gardening Australia

Walking at Westgarthtown

Open Gardens Australia



Friends of Westgarthtown produce two newsletters a year. Newsletters more than six months old can be downloaded from our archives. To receive a copy of the current newsletter, please subcribe to Friends of Westagarthtown by downloading and returning our subscription form.




New opening hours and volunteers wanted


Ziebell’s Farmhouse and heritage garden has entered a new era. Having recently attained Museum accreditation, Ziebell's Farmhouse is launching the next stage of its development, including extended hours and limited volunteer opportunities. 


From 20 October 2019 we will significantly increase our opening hours to every Sunday and Tuesday (excluding public holidays). Also, on October 20 it will open its new exhibition, Ziebell’s Farmhouse Garden: Memories and Meanings.


We also have the following volunteer opportunities:


Garden Volunteers tend one of the region’s most important heritage gardens. A strong interest in gardens is needed. You will work with like-minded people, including a horticulturalist and enjoy firsthand this fine heritage cottage garden. General garden duties are involved. We need volunteers on Tuesday from the morning to early afternoon.


Casual Tour Assistants, assist the Tour Co-ordinator when we have large groups. The role is varied and ranges from greeting visitors, assisting with morning or afternoon teas and explaining the cultural significance of Westgarthtown and Ziebell’s Farmhouse. There are no set times.


Weekend and weekday museum assistants support the Manager in the operation of the museum when it is open to the public. The role involves greeting visitors, explaining the museum and the cultural significance of Westgarthtown plus other activities. We need volunteers for Tuesday mornings 9am to 12noon and Sundays 11.30am to 3pm.


Training is provided for all roles.


For more information, please email, or call 0418 552 557.




New garden exhibition


From 20 October 2019


Ziebell’s Farmhouse gardens remain today much as they were in the mid 1850’s when Christian and Sophia Ziebell emigrated from Germany with 9 of their 10 children and established these gardens. 


Ziebell’s Farmhouse Garden: Memories and Meanings is the first of a series of exhibitions to explore these gardens and how we create personal, generational, community, heritage and contemporary cultural meanings in gardens. Its primary focus is the central garden, the first to be established.


It tells the story of this garden and the memories of descendants who have tended and developed it since the 1850’s. From the memories of one of Australia’s foremost artists, John Borrack, to children popping fuchsias, it invites visitors to remember their own gardens as they wander amongst the stunning spring flowers, including magnificent roses and hundreds of colourful species.


For further information please email



Westgarthtown Settler Stories


Saturday 28 April 2019, 1:30pm–4.00pm

Lutheran Cemetery, Westgarthtown Pioneer Precinct, German Lane, Lalor (Melway 8 H5)

Entry: Free



Discover the stories of early Lutheran settlers buried in heritage listed Westgarthtown cemetery on an exclusive tour with their descendants .Retrace the lives of these pioneers at the original homestead Ziebell's Farmhouse and enjoy afternoon tea in the delightful heritage gardens.


Visitors will be guided around the Lutheran cemetery in suburban Lalor and hear the early settler stories of the families buried there, narrated by descendants of those families.


Come and hear the stories of settler families, told by their descendants, in the cemetery in which they are buried. Whilst descendants have spread out across Australia, many have kept a close relationship with the area through the Friends of Westgarthtown. Some of these will tell the stories of their families who arrived here in 1850 and developed a farming community, facing all the trials and tribulations you would expect in migrating to a new country, and some you may not.


The Lutheran cemetery at Lalor was established by the early German settlers of Westgarthtown, situated in modern day Lalor and Thomastown. This is a private cemetery where descendants continue to be buried to this day.


The adjoining Ziebell’s Farmhouse Cultural Heritage Centre is owned by the City of Whittlesea and managed by the Friends of Westgarthtown. Guided tours of the farmhouse, its outbuilding and gardens, nestled in surrounding suburbia, will be part of the experience, as will afternoon tea served by members of the Friends.

For more information contact 03 94645062 or

Presented by the Friends of Westgarthown with assistance from the City of Whittlesea as part of the City of Whittlesea Cultural Heritage Program and National Trust Heritage Festival.




Ziebell’s Farmhouse
Open House and Garden


Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November 2018, 10.00am–4.30pm

Ziebell Farmhouse, Westgarthtown Pioneer Precinct, German Lane, Lalor (Melway 8 H5)

Entry: $8.00 Adults (Under 18 free) $5.00 Students


Enter the 1850’s cottage garden and wander along the pathways enjoying this enduring heritage garden. Visit the Plant and Seed marquee to purchase garden plants and seeds and take the opportunity to chat to the knowledgeable garden volunteers. Visit the historic house, museum and outbuildings. German sausage sizzle at the gate. Tea, coffee and refreshments table open each day (gold coin donation).

For more information contact 0418 596 538 or

Presented by the Friends of Westgarthown with assistance from the City of Whittlesea and Open Gardens Victoria.




Ziebell’s Farmhouse Gains
Museum Accreditation

26 April 2018


Museums Australia (Victoria) has awarded the Friends of Westgarthtown Accreditation for Ziebell’s Farmhouse museum.


The announcement made on 26 April makes Ziebell’s Farmhouse the first and only Accredited museum in the City of Whittlesea. To become Accredited the committee has spent the past three years developing procedures, policies and practices to meet recognised museum standards.


A professional panel of museum experts made a final assessment and compiled a positive report on the museum’s operations. The Friends of Westgarthtown have worked hard to meet set criteria from the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries and joins the 74 other collections Accredited in Victoria.


The Accreditation panel were particularly impressed with the skill level, commitment and achievements of the current committee and volunteers. The panel commended the museum on the high level of presentation in the exhibition spaces and the extensive work done in the heritage garden. Caroline Wall, Co-Manager, Museum Accreditation Program, Museums Australia (Victoria), said, “We are delighted to recognise the hard work and commitment shown by the team at Friends of Westgarthtown. Caring for our shared heritage is an important task and by becoming Accredited Friends of Westgarthtown has proven to be a leading heritage site in Victoria.”


> Download the media release




Drawing from the past —
a sketching workshop


Sunday 10 September 2017, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Ziebells’ Farmhouse, 100 Gardenia Road, Thomastown

$10 per person. Light lunch and basic drawing materials included.

Bookings Essential.


> Book online.


Draw inspiration from the exhibition ‘Luminosity and Poetic Vision’, and pay a visit to Ziebell’s farmhouse for an ‘en plein air’ sketching session, led by John Borrack. The time John spent at the farmhouse of his grandparents as a young boy was a critical stepping stone in his pursuit of an artistic and creative life.


All welcome, from beginners to advanced students.

For more information contact  9217 2377 or

Presented by City of Whittlesea and Friends of Westgarthtown.




Curios from yesteryear


Sunday 19 November 2017 from 12 noon to 4 pm

Ziebell Farmhouse, Westgarthtown Pioneer Precinct, German Lane, Lalor (Melway 8 H5)

Free entry.


The museum at Ziebell’s Farmhouse houses many heritage farm tools and domestic utensils you will be unaccustomed to seeing today. A selection of these will be presented by our  guides who will explain their use and operation to visitors.


What is a butter pat? How does a meat safe work? From moulis to bale hooks: explore an enchanting world of old-fashioned tools, demystified by our volunteers.


Wander through the historic farmhouse, outbuildings and gardens. Sample scones baked in the farmhouse’s original wood-fired oven, or enjoy a Bratwurst from the sausage sizzle. Free tea and coffee will also be served.


For more information contact 0418 596 538 or

Presented by the Friends of Westgarthown with assistance from the City of Whittlesea's Cultural Heritage Program.




Robert Wuchatsch on This Thomo Life

1 April 2017


Our historian & Vice-President Robert Wuchatsch recently appeared on an episode of the podcast series This Thomo Life.


In the episode he talks about growing up in Thomastown in the 50s. The urban sprawl of the mid 60s. What war half the world away, made life like for his family and German/Australians in Thomastown. He also shares a very funny story about a child at school, a principal and an axe.


Listen to the podcast >


Westgarthtown & WW1


Sunday 1 May 2016, 2.30pm–4pm

Ziebell Farmhouse, Westgarthtown Pioneer Precinct, German Lane, Lalor (Melway 8 H5)

Free entry. All welcome.


Join us for the launch of a documentary that juxtaposes the treatment of citizens of German descent living in Westgarthtown with the experiences of their relatives who were fighting and dying for Australia during World War 1.


Almost 70 descendants of the German settlers of Westgarthtown fought on all battlefronts; some being decorated, others losing their lives, whilst others returned to Australia carrying a heavy burden.

Back at Westgarthtown, their relatives were viewed by their neighbours with suspicion. Instead of seeing fellow citizens some saw the enemy. It is an issue that resonates in Australia today.


For more information contact 0418 596 538 or

This project was funded under the Australian Government’s ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program. Presented by the Friends of Westgarthown with assistance from the City of Whittlesea.





Ziebell's Farmhouse: open house & garden


Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October 2015, 10am – 4.30pm

Ziebell Farmhouse, Westgarthtown Pioneer Precinct, German Lane, Lalor (Melway 8 H5)

Gold coin donation requested.


Don't miss this opportunity to see one of Melbourne's most historic gardens at its peak.


Ziebell’s Farmhouse and heritage garden will be open throughout the day. You are invited to stroll and experience the homestead and the garden in its full glory, with a variety of newly planted bulbs that will be on show at this time of year.


A German sausage sizzle will operate at the gate. Tea, coffee and biscuits will also be available.


For more information contact 0418 596 538 or

Presented by the Friends of Westgarthown with assistance from the City of Whittlesea and Open Gardens Victoria.


New cemetery minisite


After many years of research by Robert Wuchatsch through various sources including death certificates, headstones and published death notices, the Friends of Westgarthtown are proud to announce that our reconstructed burial list for the Westgarthtown Lutheran Cemetery has been published online. An important addition to the historical record, our new cemetery minisite features details of all known burials, photographs of headstones and stories about many of the key figures and families of Westgarthtown.


- Visit our cemetery minisite


Cemetery Tours


Sunday 27 April 2014, 1.15 & 2.45 pm

Ziebell's Farmhouse, Westgarthtown Pioneer Precinct, German Lane, Lalor

Cost: Free


The Westgarthtown Lutheran Cemetery was established soon after the settlement began in 1850. With over 200 confirmed burials and up to 50 more possible burials, it informs and is in itself, a rich part of the story of Westgarthtown. As part of the City of Whittlesea's 2014 Cultural Heritage Program, free guided tours will be conducted at 1.15 pm and 2.45 pm on Sunday 27 April. Meet at Ziebell's Farmhouse which will also be open for inspection. Afternoon tea provided.


For more information contact 0400 127 830 or


Ziebell's Farmhouse Open Garden 2013


Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 November 2013, 10am – 4.30pm

Ziebell Farmhouse, German Lane, Thomastown (Melway 8 H5)

Cost: $7 per person, payable at the gate


Ziebell's Farmhouse garden will feature in Open Gardens Australia's program for the second time in 2013. Since the launch of the Garden Guide in 2010 and the success of last year's Open Garden, Ziebell's Farmhouse garden has been receiving more recognition than ever before. Don't miss this opportunity to see one of Melbourne's most historic gardens at its peak.


Westgarthtown on Coxy's Big Break

6 October 2013


The Channel Seven program Coxy’s Big Break aired a story about Westgarthtown on Sunday 6 October. The story was filmed in March and features former City of Whittlesea Mayor and Friends of Westgarthtown Vice President John Fry.



Seeking volunteers

3 October 2013


The number of visitors to Ziebell’s Farmhouse is growing and we need more volunteers to help.

Currently we are seeking volunteers to assist with gardening and tours but we always love to hear from anyone in the community who may have specific suggestions on how they can help. If you would like to assist at Ziebell’s Farmhouse, please download our volunteers form below:


- Volunteers program [PDF]


Gardening Australia

1 June 2013


On 1 June Gardening Australia aired this segment filmed at Ziebell's Farmhouse:



You can view the fact sheet at the Gardening Australia website.


Immediately following the Open Garden weekend in November last year, Gillian Borrack was contacted by ABC TV’s Gardening Australia program who organised to film the segment featuring Gillian and Sylvia Schultz at Ziebell’s Farmhouse.


Gardening Australia reporter Jane Edmanson has also been promoting the Ziebell garden on her 3AW Big Backyard gardening program. This has lead to a spike in visitors to our regular open day at the farmhouse.


Walking at Westgarthtown


Sunday 28 April 2013 from 1.00 – 4.00 pm at Ziebell’s Farmhouse.


The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) will conduct its 2013 Heritage Festival Community Milestones during April – May 2013. This festival celebrates Victoria’s unique and diverse heritage. One of the events this year will be Walking at Westgarthtown on Sunday 28 April 2013 from 1.00 – 4.00 pm.


The new Westgarthtown Heritage Walk brochure, produced by the Friends of Westgarthtown in conjunction with the City of Whittlesea, will be launched at Ziebell’s Farmhouse at 2.00 pm. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour at 3.00 pm or use the brochure to self guide themselves at their leisure. The Westgarthtown Heritage Walk commences at Ziebell’s Farmhouse, then passes Maltzahn’s, Wuchatsch’s, Siebel’s and Graff’s Farmhouses, before finishing at the Thomastown Lutheran Church and Cemetery. The length of the trail is 2.9 kilometres.


Free admission and afternoon tea. Suitable walking shoes and clothing are recommended. For this event parking and entrance to Ziebell’s Farmhouse will be via Westgarthtown Lutheran Reserve, German Lane, Thomastown (Melway Map 8, H5).


Open Gardens Australia

1 December 2012

Open Garden Australia’s program featured Ziebell’s Farmhouse for the first time on 17 and 18 November last year. Supported by the City of Whittlesea’s Cultural Heritage Program, the event attracted over 300 people. 35% of the gate takings from both Ziebell’s Farmhouse and the simultaneous opening at the Borrack Garden in Mernda were donated to the Friends of Westgarthtown. Along with sales from the plant and book stalls, the weekend raised around $1,800 for the Friends. The real success, however, is ongoing. Most visitors on the Open Garden weekend had never been to Westgarthtown before and their interest has fuelled greater numbers to our regular open days and organised tours.



Love & Lace


An exhibition of antique heritage clothing and demonstrations of lace making
Sunday 20 November 2011 at Ziebell's Farmhouse (1pm – 4pm)


As part of the City of Whittlesea’s Cultural Heritage Program, the Friends of Westgarthtown will host a fascinating display of antique clothing with a beautiful and romantic history. Featured among the collection will be Minna Thiele’s wedding dress, along with love notes between the bride and groom which date back to 1910.


Harry and Minna Thiele were both grandchildren of Christian Benjamin Finger, who emigrated from Germany aboard the Pribislaw and travelled to Australia with many of Westgarthtown’s original settlers, arriving in Melbourne in 1850.


Following their marriage on 12 October 1910, Harry and Minna farmed at East Burwood, before moving to Blackburn, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. They had six children, a boy and five girls, the youngest of whom, Gladys Knight, donated Minna’s wedding dress and the other personal items which form the basis of this exhibition.


The exhibition, which includes display panels, along with a demonstration of lace making, will take place from 1–4 pm on Sunday 20 November 2011. Afternoon tea will be available.


Westgarthtown Bluestone Buildings

9 November 2010


The Northern Weekly has published a story on bluestone buildings in the northern suburbs' which features the buildings of Westgarthtown. Click here to read the article.


160th Anniversary celebrations


Sunday 21 November 2010 at Ziebell's Farmhouse. 1PM–4PM


This year is Westgarthtown’s 160th Anniversary and celebrations are planned for Sunday 21 November 2010 as part of the City of Whittlesea’s Cultural Heritage Program 2010.


Join us for an afternoon of celebrations of the 160th anniversary of the 1850 German settlement in Thomastown. The Ziebell Farmhouse precinct will be the focal point of the celebrations to be officially launched at 1.00pm.


Launch of the new Ziebell Farmhouse Garden Guide, the updated Westgarthtown Heritage Trail Brochure and new interpretive panels: Westgarthtown Precinct Farm Buildings.


Guided tours of the Westgarthtown Heritage Trail — gain an insight into the 1850’s settlement. Tours commence at 2.00pm and 3.00pm. Appropriate walking attire and footwear required.


> 160th Anniversary Celebration Flyer [PDF, 122KB]

> City of Whittlesea's Cultural Heritage Program 2010 [PDF, 1.8MB].


Recognising early German settlers

22 April 2010


Eppring North Street SignSeveral new streets in Epping North have recently been named in recognition of the City of Whittlesea’s early German settlers.


The new streets not only recognise the names of settlers, but also the regions from which they emigrated and the ships they travelled on to get here. They include Mecklenburg Close, Saxony Drive, Godeffroy Parade, Herlitz Drive and Muller Street.


More information about this interesting new development will be provided in a future newsletter.


2009 Cultural Heritage Program

15 June 2009


Friends of Westgarthtown is pleased to host two events in this year's City of Whittlesea Cultural Heritage Program:


Music In Warm Places (Sunday 19 July 2009)

Presented by Friends of Westgarthtown Inc and supported by the City of Whittlesea

Visit the historic bluestone Ziebell Farmhouse built in 1851 and enjoy glimpses of the past through music in an intimate and warm setting. Featuring guitarist, Igor Pelka and Carol Appelt on flute and piano. There will be arrangements of classical German pieces including; Bach, Beethoven and Schubert plus the Italian Giuliani Sonata.

Afternoon tea will be available at the interval.


Date/time: Sunday 19 July 2009, 1.45pm – 4.15pm. Recital 2pm – 3.15pm. Afternoon Tea: 3.15 – 3.45pm. A Capella German song recital 3.45pm – 4.15pm
Cost: Free. Places limited. Bookings Essential.
RSVP by Wednesday 15 July, 2009, 5.00pm for catering purposes.
Location: Ziebell Farmhouse, Cnr Gardenia Rd and Ainwick Cres, THOMASTOWN
Melway: Map 8 H5


Guided tours of the Westgarthtown Heritage Trail (Sunday 1 November)
Presented by Friends of Westgarthtown
In 1991, the Whittlesea Heritage study concluded that Westgarthtown was considered to be of ‘national and statewide significance for its representation of German migration to Victoria’. Westgarthtown is historically significant for its association with William Westgarth and the early development of Thomastown. It is architecturally significant for its 1850s construction and the introduction of German building techniques in Australia.
Join the free guided tours of the precinct and gain an insight into the area. The tour will be followed by afternoon tea.

Date/time: Sunday 1 November 2009, 1pm – 4pm. Tours starting at the Ziebell Farmhouse at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
Cost: Free. All welcome.
Location: 100 Gardenia Rd, THOMASTOWN Melway: Map 8 H5


Further information is available at the City of Whittlesea Heritage Program page or contact us. Please note that some City of Whittlesea literature for the program contains an error for the date of the second event: it should read Sunday 1 November.


Catalogue your blessings

28 November 2008


A project to catalogue the many historical items at Ziebell Farmhouse is creating a museum standard record of the collection. This is an immense task being undertaken with the assistance of Heritagecare and three very dedicated volunteers. The Friends of Westgarthtown first became interested in cataloguing our collection in 2002. In late 2007, after learning of a Heritagecare program that could assist with this task, we registered our interest and the program began on 16 May 2008. So far over 200 heritage items have been photographed and catalogued, including the recording of detailed historical information pertaining to each one. Further information can be found in Gillian Borrack's article in the November 2008 edition of Friends of Westgarthtown News.


Recent museum acquisitions

28 November 2008


Two large and important items have been acquired by the Friends of Westgarthtown heritage collection. The first is a buggy that served the needs of of Carl and Dorothea Ziebell and their family of ten children through the early 1900’s as their principal horse drawn vehicle of transport. Carl, who was a skilled wheelwright, constructed the four-wheeled buggy on the property. The second is a model of the Ziebell's farmhouse that has been lovingly created by Francis and Joe Adams. Further information can be found in Geoff Borrack's article in the November 2008 edition of Friends of Westgarthtown News.


Web site design by Léon Borrack


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