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Forging ahead . . . Showing how it's done at the Nicol's Blacksmith in Duntroon are John Stannard, at the anvil, and Harry Petherick, at the forge, while a group of young visitors look on. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Volunteering at two of Duntroon’s tourist attractions is the perfect way to practice a hobby while you help out, Jan Keeling says.

The Nicol’s’ Blacksmith Historic Trust chairwoman said Nicol’s Blacksmith and the Vanished World Centre were unique tourist attractions in the town, and both desperately needed volunteers.

“Duntroon offers two of the most unique venues located side by side with volunteering opportunities where you can sneakily practice a hobby while giving service,” she said.

“The trust offers training to any new blacksmith volunteers, then they can practice their new skill while volunteering at the site.”.

Mrs Keeling takes tours around the forge, but there needed to be somebody working the steel while she showed people around to enhance the experience, she said.

“We are fortunate to have the original forge in a working state and we have it manned on the weekends. Seeing someone heat and shape the metal in real time and being able to feel the heat, smell the smoke and hear the metal-on-metal strike makes it all the more memorable.”

Like other businesses in the region, Nicol’s was feeling the effects of decreased tourist numbers. Due to Covid-19, tourists were now predominantly New Zealanders, who were genuinely interested in the country’s history.

Brainstorming of new ideas and the “relentless hard work” of the key volunteers who keep the building manned on the weekends was only just keeping the business open, Mrs Keeling said.

“We love sharing the history of blacksmithing, plus the social history of the people who worked in Duntroon’s own village blacksmith shop over the last 150 years.”

The compliance and insurance costs require a steady stream of income and the trust has been fundraising for those by holding regular beginner courses.

“As we believe history needs to be accessible to all we don’t charge for entry, but rely on ‘what you think this experience was worth’ donations, on leaving.”

People could find out more and make contact about helping the forge on the Nicol’s Blacksmith Facebook page.