When Ian Gillings, the owner of the Grand Western Lodge in Millthorpe, stumbled across an old, battered piano, his first thought was how could he get it in the skip.
Fate though intervened in the form of Millthorpe local Charlie Dunn who suggested that the piano could be a great project for visiting piano restoration student Sonette Vermaak.
When Mrs Vermaak lay her eyes on the vintage upright she immediately fell in love with an instrument that she said has all the trademarks of a quality piece.
"It has a tremendous cast iron plate and although the soundboard was cracked the piano still had a good tone, which was promising," she said.
"Although not perfectly neat, I could determine the action parts were mostly in good shape and smooth buckskin was originally used."
Built in Stuttgart in 1866-67 the Richard Lipp and Sohn Grosse Goldene Medaille is almost as old as the village itself and how and when it first appeared in the 1905 built lodge is still under investigation.
Just as Mr Gillings works to bring the building back to its former glory and he discovers its fascinating past, Mrs Vermaak has been finding all sorts of interesting historic remains inside the piano.
They didn't have electricity when it was built just candle holders. So when I took the keys out I found all this old wax that had dripped down.Sonette Vermaak
"They didn't have electricity when it was built just candle holders. So when I took the keys out I found all this old wax that had dripped down," she said.
There was also evidence that the instrument's past wasn't fine musical halls, it was more like the lodge's original use as a hotel.
"This was certainly a party piano because they must have had the top open to let more sound out and when they placed their drinks on the top, they must have spilt quite a few," Mrs Vermaak said.
Repairing an old instrument such as this, and it's Mrs Vermaak's first ever major repair, involved her husband Kobus Vermaak making quite a few trips to Bunnings for more and more tools.
Mr Vermaak is the construction manager of the $150 million molybdenum processing plant at Cadia, but that's nothing compared to restoring a vintage piano he said.
"This was much more stressful," he said. "I've never had a bigger tool set than I have now."
Those tools were needed as Mrs Vermaak systematically worked towards getting it back to as close to original as she can.
"The most difficult part has been making the key tops even," she said. "The touch of the piano is very important."
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