Homesteads provide a tangible link to Victoria’s rich pastoral heritage. AHS has prepared a number of Conservation Management Plans on homestead complexes, mainly in the Geelong area and the Western District.
A selection of homesteads investigated by AHS are:
Purrumbete Homestead, near Camperdown.
Purrumbete Homestead is a unique and tangible legacy of the 19th century Manifold family farming dynasty in the Western District of Victoria. It consists of a large house beside Lake Purrumbete, remnant exotic gardens, numerous Victorian farm outbuildings and unusual water reticulation infrastructure.
Purrumbete (near Camperdown) was originally founded by the Manifold brothers, John and Peter, in 1836. Throughout the 19th century, they became one of the largest landholders in Victoria, owning 100,000 acres beside Lake Purrumbete. From their initial simple hut, they built a Victorian styled house in 1842 and1857-60, which was later substantially extended to designs by the architect Alexander Hamilton in 1882. In 1901, further major alterations and additions transformed it into an eclectic Federation Arts and Crafts residence. The design for these alterations were carried out by Guyon Purchas, who provided most unusual timber Art Nouveau interiors. Art Nouveau paintings were a significant part of the design, from the hand of Walter Withers, artist.
Purrumbete developed into a substantial farming complex during the latter half of the 19th century. Many outbuildings were built in a Victorian Picturesque style (including the extant House Stables & Coach House, Carpenter’s [Blacksmith’s] Shop, Manager’s House, Men’s Quarters, Men’s Stables and Cart and Cow Shed) to accommodate the growing demands of the cattle, sheep and later bullock and dairy station (as well as butter factory). Successive generations of Manifolds worked and owned Purrumbete until 1983.
Subsequent to the completion of the Conservation Management Plan, the dining room interior has been reconstructed using wallpapers similar to the original.
Moranghurk Homestead, Lethbridge.
Moranghurk Homestead was first settled in 1840 by the Scottish emigrants, William Taylor and Dugald McPherson. Originally called “Morangourke”, their 18,000 acres of land crossed the Moorabool River and extended almost to Anakie and Steiglitz. They built a dwelling of mud and stone that had a low ceiling and a dirt floor.
A second homestead was constructed in the ensuing years, possibly in c.1845-46. It is not known whether it was built for Taylor and McPherson, or the subsequent licensee, Peter Sharp, who acquired the property in 1846. An unsubstantiated claim states that the dwelling – with an adzed timber frame having expressed corners and housed and butt-fitted hand sawn vertical timber planks – was built by Thomas Albin Nuttall, a cabinet maker from England who was specifically brought out to Moranghurk for the task. The sophisticated nature of the timber construction does suggest the work of a skilled tradesman.
In 1847, Sharp applied for a lease of 18,333 acres under the Order in Council, which included a 640 acre pre-emptive right. The lease was transferred to Sharp’s brother, William in 1848 and a map for 1849 shows that in addition to the homestead, there were a stables building and a hut.
Andrew Love Jnr., son of the first resident Presbyterian Minister in Geelong, the Rev. Andrew Love Snr., took over the lease of Moranghurk in 1853. However, the occupation of Moranghurk by the Love family was to be short-lived as in September 1854 the lease on the property was sold to William Ross through a mortgage to Love. In the ensuing months, Love became insolvent that in turn forced Ross to relinquish Moranghurk. It was bought back by William Sharp in 1856.
In 1857, Moranghurk was acquired by John Matheson Snr. Claimed as ‘one of the most striking personalities of his day in pastoral and financial circles’, Matheson transformed the property (then known as “Moranghurk”) into a prosperous sheep station. He expanded the landholdings in the 1850s and 1860s, and purchased the pre-emptive right (which resulted in the forfeiting of grazing leases on the west side of the Moorabool River). By January 1879, Matheson’s combined properties included Moranghurk and the neighbouring Woodburn and Native Creek runs. His landholdings totalled 19,000 acres. Paddocks were established and fenced in with brush, post and rail and dry stone walls, all of which were constructed by c.1879. Stock was increased – from 8,943 sheep in 1862 to 19,945 sheep in 1882.
It was also during John Matheson Snr.’s control of Moranghurk when there was an expansion of buildings. The main house was extended in 1873-75 to include a large northern bedroom wing. It might have been at this time when the interior walls of the main house were plastered and cornices introduced. In 1875, substantial bluestone woolshed and stables buildings and other huts were built. A, dairy, meat house, cow shed, killing shed and a shearers’ hut were some of the other buildings known to have been built throughout the 1860s and 1870s. In 1876, improvements were made to the main driveway avenue, with 97 trees planted.
With the death of John Matheson Snr. in 1882, the property passed to his son, John Matheson Jnr. Resident in England, the new owner of Moranghurk appears to have taken little interest in the property. However, Moranghurk continued to operate as a large sheep station and many of the dry stone walls were rebuilt to make them rabbit proof. He died prematurely in 1893.
Moranghurk then passed to John Matheson Jnr.’s son, John Lee Matheson, in 1893. Also resident in England and because he was not of legal age, Moranghurk was managed by the Trustee, Robert A. Molesworth until c.1911. It appears to have been during this time when a number of additional buildings were constructed at Moranghurk, including the Maids’ Quarters, Manager’s Office, Laundry, Single Men’s Quarters, and Grain Store. Improvements to the main house garden – bound by a dry stone wall – may also have occurred at this time.
The arrival of John Lee Matheson, his wife, Lynette, and his brother, Norman in c.1912, witnessed the beginning of new era at Moranghurk. As the only member of the Matheson family to continually reside at the property, John Lee worked towards establishing prize winning fine merino wool. Such ambition was initially cut short by the First World War, which resulted in John Lee and Lynette returning to England in 1916 so that he could make a contribution with the Imperial Forces. Between 1916 and 1920, Moranghurk was managed by Norman Matheson. His interest in greyhound racing appears to have brought about the construction of the greyhound kennels during these years. A member of the elite Bohemian Club, Norman Matheson also enjoyed the social life.
It was upon the return of John Lee and Lynette Matheson in 1920 when the final era of Moranghurk as a substantial sheep station commenced. Their interest in the arts and architecture brought about the construction of some notable bluestone buildings, including the Men’s Quarters and especially the substantial interwar English Domestic Revival styled motor garage and gate lodge, and the picturesque pump house (with its battlemented parapet) beside the Moorabool River. These buildings appear to have been built in the early 1920s. The driveway bridge was rebuilt in 1926 and the main house gardens may have been further developed during this period.
The end of the Matheson family era at Moranghurk in the early 1950s was brought about by two main factors: the compulsory acquisition of a substantial portion of the property by the Soldier Settlement Commission (after the Second World War) and the death of John Lee Matheson. Comprising 18,807 acres in 1952 under Matheson’s ownership, 11,770 acres were taken over by the Soldier Settlement commission in February 1952. John Lee Matheson died in January 1953 and by June 1953 further compulsory land acquisitions by the Soldier Settlement Commission left John Lee’s successor, Norman Matheson, with only the original homestead area of 2,183 acres. He subsequently sold the remaining portion to the Commission in 1954.
Since that time, Moranghurk has had a number of owners. In 1954, the property was sold to Dudley Irwin and Jack West and then in 1957 it passed to Isaac and Betty Scott. The original mud and stone dwelling, early kitchen and northern bedroom wing were demolished in 1967 and a single storey Calsil brick extension was made to the southern end of the main house.
In more recent years, the Conservation Management Plan has guided the removal of the introduced rear sun room and the reconstruction of the return verandah.
Longerenong Homestead, Longerenong.
Comprising 153,000 acres of sheep grazing land, Longerenong Homestead was first occupied by William Taylor and Dugald McPherson in 1843, three years after their arrival from Scotland. The surviving timber slab outbuilding on the property may be physical evidence of the early years of development at the property. In 1856, Longerenong was sold to the Wilson brothers: John, Charles and Samuel, and three years later in 1859 they were granted the 640 acre pre-emptive right to the property. At this time their leases of sheep and cattle runs extended well beyond the pre-emptive section.
In December 1861 upon his impending marriage to Jean Campbell, it appears that Samuel Wilson engaged the prolific architectural firm of Crouch and Wilson, Melbourne, to design a substantial two storey brick Victorian Picturesque Gothic home at Longerenong for his new bride. He laid the foundation stone on 30 June 1862 (and became sole owner of the property in 1869). The completed dwelling was unlike most of the domestic work previously designed by the architects and the traversing two storey gable roof forms, projecting central gable (with oriel bay and arched portico) and flanking return verandahs drew closely on the work of the American architect, A.J. Davis, having been published in A.J. Downing’s book, The Architecture of Country Houses, in 1850. The explicit design references to A.J. Davis’ work arguably suggested that Samuel Wilson influenced the design outcome.
During his tenure at Longerenong, Wilson established himself as a prosperous sheep grazier and businessman. By 1874, he was claimed to own 600,000 sheep, possibly more than anyone else in the world. He also contributed to public life in Victoria, presenting the Wimmera in the Legislative Assembly between 1861-1864 and the Western Province in the Legislative Council from 1875-1881. Wilson’s interest in the Acclimatisation Society witnessed nine camels for the Burke and Wills expedition being acclimatized at Longerenong in 1862, while axis and fallow deer, Ceylon peafowl, peacocks, ostriches and angora goats were exchanged and run at Longerenong. Substantial gardens and a dense tree-lined drive were also established around the homestead in the 1860s.
Wilson sold Longerenong in 1874 to Albert Austin and William Hose Bullivant. The property then comprised 1210 acres and included 87,100 sheep. Bullivant bought out Austin in 1879. Bullivant’s death in 1901 witnessed ownership being transferred to his sons, Arthur and Hugh. They appear to have carried out refurbishment and repairs to the mansion house at this time, including the installation of pressed metal ceilings in some of the main rooms and the construction of a rear brick servants’ wing. This was apparently required as a result of an impending visit by the Governor of Victoria.
In 1907, Longerenong was sold to George Hannel of Mount Gambier. His ownership was short-lived as he died in 1910. The property passed to his eldest son, Alfred. In 1914, Longerenong was purchased by James Delahunty, although the Certificate of Title was not issued until 1919. The lateness of the Title appears to have been due to the lengthy processing of Hannel’s probate. Just two years later in 1921, Eloise Gregory acquired the property. She remained there for the rest of her life until 1952. It was at this time when the balconies were removed (given their poor condition) by Eloise Gregory’s son and subsequent part-owner, John Gregory. Internal repairs and alterations were also made to some of the rooms during the ensuing years. In 1970, an Architectural Survey and Structural Assessment was prepared by Allan Willingham, Conservation Architect. It recommended repairs to the roof, repairs to tuckpointing, external timber repairs, internal repairs to walls and plasterwork and other finishes, and repainting.
The death of John Gregory in 1996 brought about a substantial reduction in the Longerenong landholdings. In 1997, a permit was sought to subdivide the property into three allotments, with the mansion house and homestead setting comprising 40 acres (16 hectares).
Spray Farm, Bellarine.
The land of Spray Farm, Bellarine, was originally acquired under license by James Conway Langdon in c.1845, although it was not until 1849 when he purchased the freehold and developed the site. With his wife, Ellen, Langdon, a former Army Captain, first settled at “Ellendale”, a substantial sheep run near Swan Bay and St. Leonards on the eastern fringe of the Bellarine Peninsula. Langdon sold the license to this run in 1850 to William Harding, who appears to have changed the name to “Ellenvale”. Langdon subsequently established his “Ellendale” farm (now known as Spray Farm) in 1851-58 when the architect, John Young, was engaged to prepare the design for the main house.
In 1865, “Ellendale” was acquired by Charles Ibbotson, who changed its name to “Spray House” after his childhood home in England. Ibbotson was also a wealthy businessman and semi-pastoralist, being a partner in the international pastoral company, Dalgety and Ibbotson and Co. The Ibbotson family alternated between Spray Farm and their main residence, The Heights, Newtown, throughout the 1860s and 1870s. In 1877, the prolific Geelong architects, Davidson and Henderson, finalized designs for the French-inspired coach house and stables, and probably the return verandah for the main house, and the distant brick stables and dairy.
In 1882, Ibbotson gifted Spray Farm to his daughter, Fanny Matilda. Five years later in 1887 she married the property’s groomsman, John Clee, and they lived there until their deaths in 1919 and 1923. No major changes appear to have occurred to the main house complex during this period. It was in c.1924 when alterations and additions were made by James Mansfield Niall. A pastoralist and businessman, Niall used Spray Farm as a retreat. The changes he instigated included the linking of the kitchen wing to the main house through the construction of a dining room, extensions to the kitchen and servants’ wings, construction of a detached ball room to the west of the main house, and possibly the removal of the original ceiling light in the central hall.
In 1925, Robert Carstairs Bell, pastoralist, took occupation of the property. His tenure was short-lived as he died in 1928, the property then being taken up by Frank Armytage. He commissioned the Geelong architects, Laird and Buchan, to make further alterations and additions, including the construction of a large dining room now comprising the projecting east gabled wing. The arrival of A.E. and M.A. Cain in 1941 brought about the removal of the ball room in 1946. Little further change appears to have occurred until David and Vivienne Browne transformed the derelict property into a well-known and successful vineyard in the late 1990s. Substantial repairs were made to the buildings, with the rear coach house and stables converted into a cellar door facility.