What is significant? Fyansford, located at the junction of the Barwon and the Moorabool rivers, was named after Captain Foster Fyans, who had been stationed here as police magistrate in 1837. The ford provided a convenient crossing-place, and the small settlement became an important stopping point for pastoralists and others travelling between Geelong and Ballarat, and on the principal western road from Geelong to Hamilton (now the Hamilton Highway).
The Swan Inn, Fyansford, originally known as the Fyanstown Inn, was built by its first licensee John Atkins in 1842 and opened the following year. The building contract for the hotel was let to Mr Marr. Atkins also had Mack's Hotel, in Geelong. The Swan Inn was built to a design by Geelong architect A.K. Skene; he was also an important early government surveyor who introduced the theodolite to the practice of surveying in Victoria, and served as surveyor-general of Victoria (from 1857 to post-1870?). The construction of a bridge across the Moorabool River in 1854 led to two additional hotels (the Fyansford and the Balmoral) being built in Fyansford that year. The township serviced surrounding agricultural and horticultural interests. As the township declined, however, it was no longer able to support three hotels, and the former Swan Inn was adapted for use as a farm house.
The Swan Inn is a single-storey rectangular building of linear form, constructed from bluestone, rendered and ruled on the north side, and painted on all other elevations. There is stone quoining to the main entrance and windows. Its steeply pitched gabled roof extends over the verandah on the north and south sides. Attic windows are located within the gable ends. The roof is believed to have been originally clad with timber shingles but these were replaced with slate in 1856; the roof was later clad with concrete tiles. There are 12-pane double-hung windows with bluestone sashes, and multi-paned French doors that open to a wide verandah. The verandah was altered on the south side with the addition of brick piers, and was infilled in the c.1950s, but the original chamfered timber posts remain extant on the northern side. The large stone stables are in ruins.
The building is located on a picturesque siting near the Moorabool River. The site was celebrated for its scenic value and was captured by artists such as Samuel Calvert in his wood engraving ?Fyan?s Ford and Swan Hotel? (1862).
How is it significant? The Old Swan Inn, Fyansford, is of historical, architectural and archaeological significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Swan Inn, Fyansford, is of historical and architectural significance as the oldest known surviving building in the important early rural township of Fyansford. It is of historical significance because of its association with the important river crossing over the Moorabool River, which marked the track taken by the western-bound pastoralists in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The surrounding country has great associated historical significance as one of the earliest areas of Victoria to be taken up by graziers from 1836.
The Swan Inn is of historical and architectural significance as an early vernacular structure built in Victoria in the 1840s and as an early surviving hotel building in Victoria. The Swan Inn is an important element in the historic fabric of Fyansford, with other contributing buildings including the Fyansford Hotel (1854) [H744]. The significance of the Swan Inn is enhanced by the celebrated picturesque quality of its setting at the base of a steep escarpment in the Barwon River Valley.
The Swan Inn, Fyansford, is also of historical significance for its association with the notable Victorian architect and surveyor Alexander K. Skene, and with early Geelong publican John Atkins. [Online Data Upgrade Project 2004]