What is significant?
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.