1901 and all that

The history of Strathmore

Strathmore has a long history in the district. From what we can see, in current historical books on the South Gippsland District, Strathmore was one of the original selections in the area, around 1823 and encompassing many thousands of acres. This pre-dated the construction of the actual house called Strathmore by some 60 years, since our house called Strathmore was constructed in the year of Australian Federation, 1901. We do not know if there is any connection between the selection named Strathmore and the establishment of the house much later on.

The farm was originally over 300 acres in size, but successive family split-ups and other events saw the property whittled down to around half that size. At the end of the Second World War, Strathmore was deemed to be a soldier settlement and owned by a Mr. XXX on his return from the war. It was then subsequently sold to yyy who farmed it for a number of years before selling it on. In this time, the property as further reduced in size until it was around the current 25 acres.

In 1983 Strathmore was acquired by the Graeme family and occupied for the next 35 years, until we bought it in 2014.

The house itself is a simple cottage. We think it was originally 4 rooms, with an outhouse for the kitchen and laundry. And a loo even further out. The loo has been connected to the septic, but it still exists.

Somewhere around the 1940s perhaps, the kitchen and laundry were brought into the house and sometime before that, the main living room was extended. We know this because we got to see the old wall bottom plates when we had the house re-stumped with concrete stumps in 2014.

The original style was classic Australian Federation with a simple, plain veranda. The bullnose verandah we have today was added much later, as were the turned capitals on the verandah, where straight posts would have been.

We have been extremely fortunate to have stayed in touch with the previous owners of Strathmore, Jen and Gordon Graeme, who owned Strathmore from 1983 through to 2014. In that time, they created the garden haven that is Strathmore Farm. They also built the B&B we now run and they themselves saw many changes to the landscape during their stewardship of the farm. We are very grateful to them for their continued friendship and support, especially in compiling some of these photographic records which we share below.


Strathmore in 1901

This is the earliest record of Strathmore we can find. It was left to us by Jen Graeme when they moved up to Barham in 2014. It shows a very basic cottage and pretty unadorned at that.

The burnt trees confused us at first, however, upon checking with the Mirboo North Historical Society, we came to understand that there was a sever bushfire in the area around 1898 and so it is likely the stark backdrop of these photos is the reality of the day: they were burned out. We can only speculate as to whether the building of Strathmore at this time was in fact a rebuild, or a new build after the previous owners perhaps left.

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Building the Watts Creek Bridge 198?

The Watts Creek is the creek that runs through the western side of our property. Named after a local family that lived here in the 1950s and who are still around today. It has a very short catchment to our south and so flows well when there is rain (for a short time!) but generally just bubbles through the property and in summer, disappears into a series of pools in between the dreaded Willows.

Gordon and Jen need access to the other side of the creek and so they purchased the base of a railway carriage as a bridge and had it installed in the creek. Given these things carry up to around 30 tonnes of freight, it was deemed robust enough to do the job.

The photos tell the story. The crane looks to be around a 100 tonne crane which would have been required to lift the base out over the creek, requiring some substantial counterweighting on the ground. It was also done at the height of summer as there is no way that crane would have made it to the creek across our paddocks in any other time!

The middle photo shows the delivery truck in the driveway, outside the path from the B&B (now removed as it has never been used by our guests and had sunk further and further into the ground). The truck has two of these bridges on the back, so we are wondering g of they were both installed and one was then lost in another weather event.


Building the B&B 1985

Strathmore Farm B&B has been in operation for many years. Jen Gordon recalls starting the B&B around 1991 when they used the front living room and the master bedroom as the B&B (together with a newly built, but very small, ensuite bathroom off the main bedroom) and Jen and Gordon lived in the rear of the house.

An old leadlight door set was purchased form one of the old Bendigo police stations undergoing renewal and this was placed in the main corridor to act as the servery "window" into the front B&B section. Jen would create hot breakfasts and take them into the main living room. The B&B was listed with the RACV and received a three star rating.

The cottage part of the B&B was originally a living unit for Jen's mother who came to live on the farm in the mid-1980s after her husband died. She occupied the cottage for about 13 years before she too died and it was after that that the Gordons moved the B&B from the front of the house to the cottage. It is fascinating, as current owners, to look at these photos and observe how the gardens have changed over the time.


Snow at Strathmore Farm

Don't know what it is about snow, but everyone loves it. Maybe it's because it is a novelty in Australia and we don't have to put up with drifts of it for months and months. South Gippsland can get the right kind of weather for snow and in 2010, everything meshed to create a snowfall that made the front page of The Age newspaper in Melbourne and stayed around for about two whole days!


Black Saturday at Strathmore Farm

The town of Mirboo North was threatened but not attacked by fire in February 2011. Some of our neighbouring towns and localities like Boolarra and Darlimurla were not so lucky.

In these places, serious property loss and fatalities occurred. Strathmore Farm was never under direct threat and the last known fire that came through our area was in 1898 when a major fire just about obliterated all major buildings in the area.


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