Through the voice of play producer Diane Pope, the walls of Enderslea Farm — an historic property in the undulating Chittering Valley — have been talking for many years.
Since 2014 Diane has been staging an annual play, with a narrative around Western Australian historical tales, in the 1853-built large stone barn.
You could not find a better-suited location for such tales, and hosting plays helps keep Diane’s enthusiasm for preserving Enderslea high. The endeavour perfectly complements her extensive knowledge of history, love of colonial furniture and fondness for theatre.
Diane’s parents, Ken and Jean Clark bought the property upon retirement in 1975. “My parents got to really like it and spent a lot of their time here,” said Diane. “They sort of saved it from collapsing.”
After living in America, Diane returned to Australia in 1990 to find her father frail and no longer coping with demands of maintaining Enderslea. “He said, ‘Will you look after the farm for me?’ I said, ‘Yes of course – I’ll look after it, piece of cake!’,” Diane laughs.
Under her guardianship, Enderslea Farm was heritage listed and national trust certified.
“Intermittently, I get worn out,” said Diane. “When I was going through one of those phases, my sister said, ‘Maybe if you open up the place people can come and see it and learn about it?’ I thought, ‘I’ll know what I’ll do – I’ll ask Jenny to write me a play about the Morleys!’”
Scriptwriter Jenny Davis penned the first play held at Enderslea in 2014, which told the story of the early settlers and original Enderslea owners, Henry and Sarah Morley.
“We held two performances, fifty people at each and it was popular!” said Diane. “People asked when the next one was, so I did another one and each time people keep saying, what are you doing next?”
Enderslea Farm plays now draw up to eighty people at each performance and 2021’s tale The Blackwood River Gliding By is now running for a record seven performances in September. The Blackwood River Gliding By tells the story of Georgiana Molloy, wife, mother and farmer turned botanist. Previous protagonists in Enderslea plays include May Gibbs and Moondyne Joe.
There are still tickets available for the 10 am performance of The Blackwood River Gliding By on Saturday 18 September. You can book online at trybooking.com/BNSEC or by phoning Diane on 0448 441 899.
Group tours are also welcome at Enderslea Farm, where you can not only see the historic buildings, but a range of early farming equipment, West Australian colonial furniture, and vintage kitchen items.