Statement of Significance
The 'Congbool' pastoral homestead on the Mathers Creek near Balmoral was first taken up by the Mather brothers in 1842. The original timber slab homestead of double hipped shingle roof, Georgian casement sash fenestration and low encircling timber verandah was erected between 1842 and 1859 and possibly before George Fairbairn acquired the run in 1846. 'Congbool' old homestead is now used as a station cottage having been replaced in 1898 with a substantial single storey brick and stucco rendered mansion with ornate iron verandah, elaborate interior and multi-gabled roof forms. This was an important early building designed by the Ballarat architect P. S. Richards who from 1895 to 1940 was responsible for innovative Edwardian and Art Deco style buildings in the district. The owner at the time was James Gordon Robertson, a member of the large and influential pastoral family. The property has been known as Kongbool since the 1870s. An early owner George Fairbairn (1816-1895) was one of the largest landowners of the western district, a parliamentary representative for the area and a pioneer of the frozen meat trade. In the 1920s the property was associated with the ill-fated attempt by Australian Farms Pty Ltd to settle Indian Army officers on the land. From 1934 to 1949 Kongbool was owned by Sir Neville and Lady Evelyn Smyth. The complex also includes the nineteenth century woolshed, much extended, and two brick buildings in poor condition. The plan of the homestead complex comprising gardens and avenue is typical of such established pastoral properties in the western district region of Victoria. The two homestead buildings are in good condition and retain a high degree of integrity.
How is it significant?
The Kongbool Homestead complex is of historical and architectural significance to the southern Grampians Shire and to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Kongbool is of historical significance as an important Western District pastoral homestead complex, especially the two homesteads and the woolshed, which expresses the lifestyle and work of a major pastoral property and for its associations with the important pioneer pastoralist and parliamentarian, George Fairbairn and with James Gordon Robertson. It is of further significance for its association with the settlement of Indian Army officers and Sir Neville and Lady Evelyn Smyth. Kongbool is of architectural significance for its first homestead, a rare example of timber slab vernacular construction representative of the first era of homestead architecture in western Victoria and, by contrast, for its second homestead, an important work of the architect Percival Richards.
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Physical Conditions
The first homestead, presently disused, is generally in fair condition. The roof and guttering appear to be recent and are in good condition. Some window panes are cracked. Exterior paint condition is worn and dirty.
The woolshed is in poor condition, with steel siding being uneven and poorly fixed in some areas. The roofing is rusted, and paint is peeling and fading from the east wall.
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Physical Description 1
The original timber slab homestead 'Congbool', of double hipped shingle roof, Georgian casement sash fenestration and low encircling timber verandah was erected between 1842 and 1859 . The east, north and south sides of the house are of exposed vertical timber slab construction, with vertical beaded cover straps over the joints. The west side of the house is roughly rendered and has two brick chimneys. The entire house has been painted white. Shingles are visible on the underside of the verandah beneath the steel roof. The verandah has simple chamfered timber posts, while the floor on the east side is of strip timber, and the west side is of brick, possibly original. Sections of the verandah on the north and west sides have weatherboard and fibrous cement sheet infills. The west elevation has four small, nine-paned square casement windows with original glazing, and a braced, ledged door with wide vertical timber boards. The east elevation has three twelve-paned double hung sashes with original glazing. This building is now used as a station cottage.
In 1898 a substantial single storey brick and stucco rendered mansion was constructed, with ornate iron verandah, elaborate interior and multi-gabled roof forms. The architect was Percival (Percy) Selwyn Richards of the architcetural firm of William Brazenor of Ballarat.
The woolshed, c. 1850, is a large timber framed structure clad entirely in corrugated galvanised steel. The original extent of the woolshed is unkonwn, but may be confined to the south end of the building which has a steeply pitched corrugated steel roof. The north end of this section appears to have been truncated to accommodate a hipped roof extension. A long, narrow wing extends to the west, and has a gabled corrugated iron roof. Part of the corrugated steel siding on the east side has been painted red.
Later structures on the site include two brick buildings.
The plan of the homestead complex comprising gardens and avenue is typical of such established pastoral properties in the western district region of Victoria.
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Historical Australian Themes
3. Developing local, regional and national economies
3.5 Developing primary production
3.5.1 Grazing stock
3.5.3 Developing agricultural industries
5.8 Working on the land
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Usage/Former Usage
Continuing as a pastoral property
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Integrity
excellent degree of integrity
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Physical Description 2
P S Richards-Ballarat architect
George Fairbairn (1816-1895) - Western District pastoralist
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEX - Physical Description 3
Kongbool pre-emptive right
Heritage Study and Grading
Southern Grampians - Southern Grampians Shire Heritage Study
Author: Timothy Hubbard P/L, Annabel Neylon
KONGBOOLVictorian Heritage Register H0361
KONGBOOL HOMESTEAD COMPLEXSouthern Grampians Shire H0361
"AMF Officers" ShedMoorabool Shire
"AQUA PROFONDA" SIGN, FITZROY POOLVictorian Heritage Register H1687