Ballara

Ballara

Ballara was built in 1910 for William Baker and his new wife Emilia (Millie) Schaefer. It is understood Millie would come to Warooka only after the house was completely finished and furnished! William met Millie when she came from Ballarat to visit her sister who lived at Warooka. They were married in 1911 and Millie named her new home ‘Ballara’ in memory of her home town. A feature of the house is its ornate ceilings, and story has it that visitors came from afar especially to view them. William ran a wheat agency from an office on the front verandah and was also a contact for World War 1 recruitment. For a time William was in charge of receiving and delivering payments for the workers at Inneston. William tended an orchard and vines on the western side of the house, drying sultanas on the roll out ceiling of a hut at the back of the property. He also built a small cellar for brining meat, plus dairy and fruit storage. The hut later became room and board for the school teacher. William and Millie were both very much involved in community projects, often attending meetings many of which were held at Ballara. Millie became known as ‘the cup of tea lady’ regularly taking the large silver teapot across the road to the school. William enjoyed singing and playing piano, with musical evenings often held in the parlour. When entertaining guests the children were never allowed ‘past the archway’ in the hall. In 1927 William sadly died at only 50 years of age, leaving Millie on her own with their five children Doreen, Dulcie, William jr. (Bill), Ron, and Betsy. Millie died in 1965 and Ron continued living at Ballara until his death in 1988. Ron loved animals and had quite a collection. As well as chooks, ducks and geese there were kangaroos, emus, pheasants, turtles, a variety of small birds and a wombat! Having never married and no children of his own, Ron left the house and contents to his ten nieces and nephews. Although the Baker name has all but disappeared, Ballara still remains in the care of the family.