What is significant?
Brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside took up a sheep run at Point Cooke (later Point Cook) in 1852 and it became the home-station for their increasing pastoral runs in the west of the colony. The Chirnsides later established homesteads at Werribee Park, Carranballac, Mount William and Curnong.
The main Point Cook(e) Homestead, built c1857, is a single storey bluestone house of seven rooms with an attached service wing of four rooms, and a semi-detached weatherboard wing. There is no evidence of the involvement of an architect in the design, although it shares some features with other Chirnside homesteads. An enclosed verandah facing the coast has the date 1857 inscribed on its front parapet. The detached timber building now containing a meat house, dairy room and the ?Rabbiters Hut? may be the earliest structure on the site and dates from 1849. The Chirnside?s imported horses of fine bloodlines to the property and the bluestone stables were built for them in the 1860?s. The stable is constructed of coursed bluestone rubble with a gabled slate roof. The stable retains much of its early fitout including the coach room, saddle and grooms room, loose boxes and hayloft. A number of horses from the property were successful, including Haricot who won the 1874 Melbourne Cup, Tom Kirk who won the 1880 Caulfield Cup and Newminster who won the 1878 Geelong Cup and the 1879 Caulfield Cup. The Homestead settlement was not located near any known fresh water supply. As a result there is a particularly extensive domestic water storage system including underground and above ground tanks. The Chirnsides built a jetty on Point Cooke for shipment of wool prior to the Melbourne to Geelong railway being established in 1856.
The Werribee run was operated as an equal partnership between Thomas and Andrew Chirnside until 1882, when Thomas signed over most of the run to Andrew, retaining only Point Cooke Homestead and a few favourite paddocks. George Chirnside (Andrew?s son) was the benefactor after the death of Thomas in 1890. George and his wife Annie used the Point Cook Homestead as a summer retreat and winter hunting lodge, whilst residing permanently in the city. The timber wing of the main homestead was added at some time between 1895 and 1911 to accommodate their guests. The Point Cooke property was sold to Sydney Dalrymple in 1920. He lived there for five years and built the existing jetty. The property changed hands several times before being acquired by the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works in 1978 in a state of disrepair. The Homestead and Stables have since undergone conservation works.
Conifers comprising pines, cypress and araucaria were planted extensively in the nineteenth century as windbreaks and specimen trees around the homestead and amongst the outbuildings. To the west of the homestead are the remains of an unusual rectangular garden bed divided into three sections defined by rock edging and including the rare use of shell paving material. There are remnants of bulb planting and a large Bougainvillea in the bed. An exceptionally large edible fig is located to the north of the stable.
An old road and path system including stone paving around the homestead is largely grassed over. There are large timber gateposts to the east of the homestead, remnants of a horse lungeing yard, and post and rail fence remains. Due to the early occupation and development of the site it is likely that there are a number of sites of archaeological importance, including remnants of former buildings, garden features and tree locations, roads and paths, rock paving, and the jetty.
How is it significant?
The Point Cook homestead complex is of historical, aesthetic and scientific significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Point Cook Homestead is of historical significance as one of Victoria?s earliest pastoral homestead complexes. The complex consists of a particularly early timber house c. 1849 and the main bluestone homestead built in 1857. The bluestone stables are of historical significance in their own right because they accommodated famous racehorses such as Haricot, Tom Kirk and Newminster.
The Point Cook Homestead garden and parkland is of historical and aesthetic significance as an enclosed landscape setting to an important complex of buildings. The nineteenth century conifer plantings provide wind protection and give definition to the homestead garden. The windbreak planting is comprised of Monterey Pine and Monterey Cypress along the south, west and to the east sides. The east planting also includes three Stone Pines, three Norfolk Island Pines in front of the house and a single Bunya Bunya Pine which due to its location, size and form, is an important landmark. The contrasting forms of the groups of different conifer species are a significant landscape feature. The four Norfolk Island Pines which line the driveway to the front of the homestead, the five narrow Italian Cypress and the single Canary Island Date Palm provide further contrast in the landscape.
The Point Cook Homestead is of historical significance as an early rural landscape that is unusual for its location away from a ready fresh water supply on a site chosen for its immediate proximity to Port Phillip which provided a transport route for stock to Melbourne.
The Point Cook Homestead is of historical significance for its association with the Chirnside family who were key pastoralists in the early settlement of rural Victoria, with vast pastoral holdings throughout the western plains. Point Cooke played a major part of the Chirnside lifestyle at Werribee Park, as it was a working pastoral property, but also the site of hunting and sporting activities which involved large gatherings.
The Fig (Ficus carica cv.) to the north of the Stables is of scientific (horticultural) significance for its exceptionally large size, and is the largest known in Victoria. Comparable specimens that occur at Burnley College are smaller trees. The tree may be of horticultural importance as an unusual nineteenth century cultivar.