Nat On Point With Heritage Award

A local craftsman skilled in the rare art of tuck-pointing has been honoured for decades of work restoring Geelong’s heritage buildings.

Nat De-Palma was awarded the inaugural Jennifer Bantow Local Heritage Award during Wednesday night’s Geelong Heritage Awards, for his longstanding services to heritage conversation in the region.

Initially a bricklayer, Mr De-Palma learned how to tuck-point during the 1980s after being told that many of Geelong’s heritage buildings were at risk without tradespeople with the necessary skillset to restore them.

Tuck-pointing dates to 1700s England and is a method of using two colours of mortar in the joins of brickwork, with one matching the brick to make it appear as though extremely fine joins have been made.

Since learning the craft, Mr De-Palma has helped to restore several prominent local landmarks, including the Geelong Station, Portarlington Post Office, and multiple historically significant residential and commercial buildings.

He has also been passionate about passing the rare trade on to ensure the ongoing protection and restoration of heritage buildings.

Jennifer Bantow, Geelong and Region Branch of the National Trust:

Mr De-Palma has helped to conserve and enhance Geelong’s heritage for future generations.

His work is testimony to his patience, steady hand, keen eye, rare skill and most of all, and his love of heritage and the art of tuck-pointing.

I’m incredibly touched and thrilled to have this award in my name and couldn’t think of a better inaugural recipient.

Nat De-Palma:

It’s special to receive individual recognition for my work.

I got upset that many important buildings were being pulled down during the 1970s, and I wanted to do something about it.

Nearly 40 years later I’m coming towards the end of my career, although hopefully I’ve got another 10 years in me, and it’s been a joy and a pleasure to have this job.

I’m traditional with my methods; I still make my mixes with my feet on a hessian bag, exactly as I was taught, and my recipes are nearly 200 years-old – strictly no cement.

The thing I like most is passing on the skill to others, so that significant buildings can continue to be preserved for future generations.

The awards are presented annually in a partnership between the City of Greater Geelong and the Geelong and Region Branch of the National Trust.

Nine outstanding local building restorations were also recognised with Heritage Awards during Wednesday night’s event at the former Federal Mills:

  • 7 Lawton Avenue, Geelong West
  • Armytage House, 263 Pakington Street, Newtown
  • Barwonside, 240 Gully Road, Ceres
  • Former Protestant Orphan Asylum and School, 204-210 McCurdy Road,

    Fyansford

  • 78 Swanston Street, Geelong
  • Chimney, Little Creatures Brewery (former Valley Worsted Mill), 221 Swanston

    Street, South Geelong

  • Former Macrow’s Furniture Arcade, 85-87 Ryrie Street, Geelong
  • 245 Malop Street, Geelong
  • 121 McKillop Street, Geelong

Mayor Trent Sullivan:

Each of these buildings has an important place in Geelong’s history and to see them revived and their heritage celebrated is wonderful.

Restorations such as these are more often than not a large team effort between owners, planners, architects and builders, and require exceptionally skilled and specialised tradespeople.

The awards are deserved recognition for the dedication and care put in by all of those who played a part in the final amazing results.

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