The Russell family
The Shearing Shed at Barunah Plains
The Bake House at Barunah Plains
Barunah Plains Homestead is a heritage-listed property located in Hesse, 1.5 hours from Melbourne and 30 minutes from Geelong. The original homestead, which was designed by architects Davidson and Henderson, dates from 1866; subsequent additions and alterations were made in the late nineteenth century and in the 1900s-1910s. The homestead comprises large formal gardens, a bakehouse and laundry, stables, coach-house and implement shed (south-west of the homestead), a woolshed, two bluestone cottages north-east of the homestead, and a ram shed located 1 km south.
The property is strongly associated with the grazing history of the Western District, and prior to subdivision for soldier settlement in 1946, was the largest sheep station in Victoria. The homestead and outbuildings were listed on the Register of the National Estate on 14 May 1991; they are also classified by the National Trust of Australia and protected under the Golden Plains Shire Heritage Overlay.
The run on which the homestead sits was originally named The Long Waterhole. It was settled by Thomas Austin in 1846, who established a Merino stud. It was sold to brothers Thomas and Philip Russell in 1851, who renamed the property Barunah Plains. The Barunah Plains wool stud "has provided the genetic base for many of Australia's leading fine wool studs". At its peak, the station held over 50,000 sheep and was the largest sheep station in the state. It remained in the Russell family until 1978.
Graham Mills bought the property from the Russell family in 1978, and subsequently restored the homestead and surrounds. In the early 1990s, GW Mills and sons decided that they needed an alternative source of income to supplement their wool business, and opened the property as tourist accommodation, using parts of the homestead, two cottages and the former shearers' quarters. In 1995, he added a 9-hole golf course, using the shearers' quarters as a clubhouse. The clubhouse was ranked by BRW as the fifth-best in Victoria in 1998; the course was then in the process of expansion. That year, the property had 11,000 sheep, crops of wheat, barley and oats, and the tourist business.
In 1999, part of the property was sold off when the owners were unable to sell the property as a whole. It was bought by internet entrepreneur and politician Evan Thornley in 2001. He advertised the property for sale in 2012 and sat on the market for some years. Finally selling to the current owners in 2015.
There has been a lot of restoration work done on the property over the last 4 years. Merino sheep are breading in the paddocks. The homestead has been updated and the gardens have had a major overhaul. The Homestead, shearers quarters and cottage are available to rent. Barunah Plains hosts a variety of events on its grounds from Weddings, conferences and family catch ups to photo shoots and glamping.
The Weatherboard addition Barunah Plains Homestead
Windy Hill Cottage at Barunah Plains
The Homestead at Barunah Plains
The Homestead at Barunah Plains
The Stables at Barunah Plains