‘Aroyn’ homestead at Nyora may not be as old as the shire thinks, built in the 1950s or later, instead of circa 1939 as suggested.


THE South Gippsland Shire Council has moved decively to protect a rare piece of the region’s built heritage, a house built by Colin Baker,  the ‘Aroyn’ homestead on the outskirts of Nyora.

But according to Colin’s grandson, Kevin Woolley, the house isn’t as old as the records used by the shire in its heritage-listing application.

The official records claim the house was built circa 1939 but Mr Woolley was there at the time and he says no.

“My grandparents, Kevin and Dorothy Baker, came across from Tasmania towards the end of the Second World War, lived in Melbourne for a time and then came to Kernot where my mother went to school. They then bought the property at Nyora, where my mother also went to school and they started building the house there in the 1950s,” said Kevin.

“My grandfather was a bit of a jack of all trades and pretty much built the house himself, employing a local bricklayer. I don’t know if he got the plans from the Bendigo designer (Godfrey Eathorne) or he just modelled it on the Art Deco house in Bendigo but I know it took them quite a while to build it.

“So I would say the 1950s or even 60s by the time they built it.”

But other than that, Mr Woolley is pleased to see that the distinctive homestead is being protected.

“The property was sold to some people from Melbourne I believe, and then to the Glovers, Darryl Smith’s wife Sue’s family, but you’d have to ask Darryl about that.”

The fact that developers have a 320-lot residential development ready to go on the former Baker/Glover/Smith farming property means that the magnificent Art Deco homestead, will not be on the “outskirts” of town for long, but it will be protected for posterity.

The shire council officially adopted Planning Scheme Amendment C126 to apply heritage protection to the prominently located home at its council meeting recently and will now submit the amendment to the Planning Minister for approval.

It’s purely procedural that Planning Minister Richard Wynne will give it his tick of approval.

Only three submissions were received when the amendment went on public exhibition for approximately four weeks from June 10, 2021 to July 9 2021, after letters were sent to owners and occupiers in the subject area. Two offered unconditional support and the other, from the developers, agreed to the proposal provided that there was a change to the protection overlay boundary around the homestead and to the Statement of Significance.

It was a reasonable request given that the developers had previously agreed to alter the layout of their proposed subdivision.

According to the report to council:

“The subdivision plan initially had lots intersecting at the current location of the heritage building. For this reason, the building would have required demolition to allow for the development of the new residential lots. Subsequently, Council established an agreement with the land developer to ensure the building would be contained within one lot as part of the new subdivision plan, and include it in the Heritage Overlay. This outcome allows for the retention of the heritage building and the efficient residential subdivision of the immediate surrounding area.”

The three shire administrators passed the motion to adopt without comment.

Why is it significant?

‘Aroyn’, the homestead at 377-379 Lang Lang-Poowong Road, Nyora is significant. The Art Deco Moderne Streamline-style homestead is a single storey, rendered brick building with one large chimney and an L-shaped hipped roof with projecting semi-circular bays. The hipped roof is clad in terracotta tiles and the building has a projecting quadrant portico between the front bay and main body of the house, supported by brick oval column.

Other features of the property include:

* Steps to the front porch with circular balustrade newels surmounted by opal spheres,

* Rendered plinth and recessed string moulds around the façade • Horizontally divided steel frame windows.

* A parapet at the front of the building,

* Manganese brick highlights showing details and sculptural forms,

* Attached double garage and service wing with a lower parapet,

* A prominent, elevated position at the end of a long driveway, making it a local landmark.

The significant internal features at ‘Aroyn’ include large rooms, textured plaster walls, brick fire surrounds and Art Deco cornices.

‘Aroyn’ is almost identical to a house at 407 High St, Bendigo, built in 1939, designed by Bendigo architect Godfrey Eathorne for George Albert Pethard. Elements that are not part of ‘Aroyn’ include: a parapet on the garage at the same height as the house (lower in Nyora), a double recessed band around the parapet (only one in Nyora), two chimneys with different chimneys (instead of one), and an urban context with matching fence. Non-original alterations and additions, other than those specified above, are not significant.

Why is the amendment required?

The amendment is required to apply heritage protection to 1850m2 around the homestead with the recommendations contained in the heritage citation for the dwelling. ‘Aroyn’ is a local landmark, both for its position on a prominent hill at the edge of Nyora, and as a large Art Deco Streamlined Moderne house in a rural setting.

The amendment will have positive social impacts by protecting the significant historic, architectural, aesthetic and cultural values of Nyora’s ‘Aroyn’ for existing and future generations. Retaining ‘Aroyn’ will contribute to the diversity of urban design and architecture within a proposed new neighbourhood. Protecting ‘Aroyn’ will contribute towards the social well-being and ‘sense of place’ within the community by providing a reminder of the former use of the land and create an attractive visual focus point of difference in a new residential neighbourhood.

After Mr Woolley’s intervention, however, the historic details will need to be altered.

“The shire should check their own records from the 1950s. They’d have records of granting a building permit somewhere,” Mr Woolley said.