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Avalon Homestead and Outbuildings, Avalon Rd, Lara, VIC, Australia

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List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (14/05/1991)
Place ID 3664
Place File No 2/01/075/0020
Statement of Significance
Avalon Homestead is architecturally significant for the way in which it combines an 1880-81 main house body with an 1896 porte cochere. The porte cochere is a well designed and detailed structure which effectively refaced the house using details that anticipated architecture of the 1900s. It is one of the largest such structures in Victoria. The house is also important for its distinctive planning which not only took advantage of the sea views but also suggests that parts of the earlier fire damaged homestead were incorporated into the present building (Criterion F.1).

The place has a strong association with the Austin family who were prominent land owners in Victoria's Western District. Additionally, it is an important work of architects, Alexander Davidson (who designed the main house body) and Walter Butler (responsible for the porte cochere), both of whom designed many western district homes (Criterion H.1).

The buildings (particularly the homestead) are important for the aesthetic qualities that they lend to the local landscape (Criterion F.1).
Official Values Not Available
Description
Avalon Homestead was erected in 1880-81 to designs by Geelong architect, Alexander Davidson, and his firm. This single storey basalt and freestone residence was built to replace an earlier homestead which was largely destroyed by fire in 1878; remnants may survive in the present building. James Austin owned the property from the 1850s and after his return to England in 1859 (where he settled at Glastonbury Abbey), it seems that his nephew, Josiah Austin, and friends took over the property. By 1870 there was a residence on the property, the name Avalon first appearing in the rate books in 1866. In 1868 the occupant, Lewis Kiddle, was succeeded by William Hose Bullivant, followed by Josiah Austin who began improving the homestead. James' son, Frank, evidently returned to Australia in 1878 with Mary Austin, who married Bullivant. They moved to the Western District in the early 1880s and Frank Austin and then his son Frank owned the property. While the homestead was built in 1880-81, the dates of construction for the outbuildings are not known, though tenders were called for stables in 1881. The property remained in Austin family hands until recent times; the land was subdivided and the homestead was given by Richard Austin to the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Avalon is a single storeyed vaguely Gothic style homestead which comprises a very long, symmetrical wing facing south to Corio Bay, with a T-shaped western end comprising the entry with main rooms to either side. Otherwise the long main wing comprises just the rooms facing the sea and a passage, there being no rooms on the other side. The perpendicular kitchen wing meets the front wing about half way along the passage. This very curious, indeed probably unique planning suggests that in addition to the desirability of the sea view, parts of the old homestead which survived the fire influenced the design of the present building (it was reported that only stone walls were left standing after the fire). The main wing is conventionally designed apart from the gable roofed, raised central section with its trefoil and pointed head triple window. Each end terminates in a bay windowed projecting wing and a cast iron verandah faces the remainder. The porte cochere was designed to mask the west end of the main body, as well as to provide weather protection, and it is one of the largest such structures in Victoria. It also extends across the north wall of the main wing. A tudor stone rosette from James Austin's Glastonbury Abbey is set into the porte cochere at one point. The study which is behind the porte cochere was given a new mantelpiece and the front door and hall windows were leadlighted in about 1900. Bluestone outbuildings comprise old stables and a distant woolshed.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
Avalon and its outbuildings are very largely intact. Additions have been made to the rear east side of the homestead and the kitchen wing has been extensively altered. The main body of the homestead and outbuildings are in quite good condition. The homestead roof is now asbestos cement sheet. (May 1989)
Location
Avalon Road, 6.5km south of Lara, comprising homestead, woolshed and bluestone outbuilding (garage).
Bibliography
NATIONAL TRUST OF AUSTRALIA (VICTORIA) FILE 1116.
BROWNHILL, W.R. "HISTORY OF GEELONG AND CORIO BAY" WILKE AND COMPANY,
MELBOURNE, 1955, PP 80-82, 552.
GEELONG ADVERTISER - 10 JUNE 1880 - TENDER NOTICE
18 JUNE 1880 - DESCRIPTION OF BUILDING
29 JANUARY 1881 - TENDERS FOR STABLES/OFFICES
22 MARCH 1959, P 8.
WYND, IAN "SO FINE A COUNTRY - A HISTORY OF CORIO SHIRE", SHIRE OF
CORIO, NORTH GEELONG, 1981, PP.241-245.
BUTLER, MARJORIE J., "SETTLER BY SUCCESSION - JAMES AUSTIN 1810-1896"
NEPTUNE PRESS BELMONT 1979. CHAPTER 7 PP 73-76. DETAILS OF 'AVALON'.
WILLINGHAM, ALLAN, "GEELONG REGION HISTORIC BUILDINGS AND OBJECTS
STUDY", GEELONG REGIONAL COMMISSION, 1986, VOL.1, SHEET NOS 113,
114.

Report Produced  Sat Apr 19 02:02:39 2014