What is significant? The Gisborne Mains Homestead site is located on the Calder Freeway at the South Gisborne Rest Area. The original nine room residence, wash house, underground bluestone water tank, and garden and orchard was built between 1857-64 by Charles Hutton, a local Gisborne business identity. The property was purchased by Thomas and Agnes Watson in 1864 and under their management became a prosperous stud farm. The Gisborne Mains farm produced champion draught horses and sheep, and various farm products that won prestigious awards at the Royal Melbourne Show. The Watson family gained widespread respect and praise from the surrounding farming community. Thomas Watson died in 1891 and Agnes in 1907. Under the management of the next generation of the Watson family, the role of raising stud stock and selling draught horses declined in favour of sheep farming, cattle breeding and the production of fruits and dairy items. The residence remained virtually unaltered during the 100 years it belonged to the Watson family, except for the renovations to first create and then upgrade the kitchen. The existing garden with its English Hawthorn hedge rows, English Box hedges, two Chinese Windmill Palms, exotic trees and orchard dates from the turn-of-the-century. The buildings have been demolished by fire.
How is it significant? Gisborne Mains Homestead site is of historical, social and archaeological significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant? Gisborne Mains Homestead site is historically significant as an important reminder of Victoria's late nineteenth century farming industry. From 1864, its owners, Thomas and Agnes Watson operated it as a prosperous stud farm making widely recognised contributions to the development of agricultural and animal husbandry practices.
Gisborne Mains Homestead Site is historically important because its intact garden and orchard contributes to a greater understanding of nineteenth century agricultural development and landscape design. Gisborne Mains is of landscapevalue for the survival of its formal garden and plantings including a pair of Trachycarpus fortunei (Chinese Windmill Palm) which framed the front entrance,Cupressus torulosa (Bhutan Cypress), Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress) rows, Pinus pinea (Stone Pine) and Crataegus monogyna (English Hawthorn) hedges. North of the garden are remnants of the orchard comprising of a Morusnigra (Black Mulberry) and two Pyrus communis (Pear).
Gisborne Mains Homestead site is of archaeological significance to the State of Victoria owing to the integrity and intactness of the extensive below ground remains and relics associated with the operation of the place as a stud farm under the management of Thomas and Agnes Watson. Of significance is the known physical evidence of the residence, wash house or laundry, a rare water tank carved into the bluestone rock, and the potential for the area to contain undisturbed refuse deposits containing artefact assemblages associated with late nineteenth century domestic and farming activities of Thomas and Agnes Watson. The archaeological excavations recovered significant artefacts relating to the historical occupation of the site and demonstrated the site's value and potential to contain extensive and well preserved archaeologcial relics.