Stage 1 of the restoration commenced on the 15th March 2001. The entire building had to be straightened by pulling with chains and ropes. A trench was dug around the building to expose the lower logs which had rotted and then the foundations were reinforced with concrete. The existing roof was full of holes so enough was salvaged to cover the northern end and new “Heritage iron” was used to cover the rest .The old ridge capping was reused. Old skills such as adzing and axing had to be learnt by the builders to prepare the timber for the verandah.
Tim Eichler adzing cypress pine posts
10th September 2001 The main Structural work on the Homestead was completed and the inside walls of the two main rooms had been renovated and were ready for painting. The walls in the two small back rooms were plastered. Both fire places were re-bricked and the mantle piece in the living room was renovated. The stable was straightened and stabilized and ready for the roof to be replaced.
23rd October 2001. The windows and doors are now in place and the painting of the main rooms completed . A working bee was held on the 14th October to tidy up in readiness for the opening, much mowing of grass and leveling of ground took place.
The opening of the First stage of restoration took place at 11am on Saturday 20th October an estimated crowd of over 400 were present to see the plaque unveiled to mark the opening by Russel Savage local State member of Parliament. Present were approximately 30 descendants of Lease and Land holders of Kow Plains, these had traveled great distances and had gathered in the Cowangie Hall the previous evening. The celebrations concluded with a gathering at the recently restored bakers oven at Cowangie where pizzas were baked.
The book “Kow Plains Revisited” was launched at the opening and is available for $20.00 including packaging.
31st March 2002. since the opening of the homestead approximately 450 visitors have visited the complex.
21st September 2002. The Homestead has attracted many visitors from far & wide and from all walks of life, all with the common interest of seeing our heritage preserved. We have had a visit from the Chief Commissioner of the Victorian Police Christine Nixon and The Governor of Victoria John Landy and his wife.
Over 1000 visitors have signed the book since the opening.
Logs have now been dropped into the kitchen wall, so now the outside structure of the Homestead is complete.
The back of Kow Plains Homestead September 2002
Front of Homestead September 2002
Kow Plains Homestead has received an Honourable Mention in the 2002 UNESCO Asian- Pacific Heritage Awards. The citation reads as follows
“The restored Kow Plains Homestead is a testament to the resilience of the small Mallee community and serves as a physical reminder of Australia’s pioneering settlements. A rigorous approach of reinstating both the form and fabric of the building as faithfully as possible to the existing physical and documentary evidence was practiced consistently throughout the project. Through revitalizing abandoned building techniques and careful attention to material authenticity, the project clearly demonstrated solid understanding of conservation guidelines set forth by the ICOMOS Burra Charter. The community’s initiation and ownership of the project deserves praise to the collective efforts at conservation . This project clearly exemplifies how the co-operation between individuals, community and all tiers of government can contribute towards a common goal: the protection of local heritage.”
Kow Plains Homestead has received the Regional and State award in the On Going Project Section Category one , and the State Award for The Ongoing Project.
Stage 2 of restoration is to be carried out following the announcement on the 20/2/2002 of $20,000 in funding from the State Government’s Public Heritage Program. The money will be used to rebuild the collapsed cookhouse (first built in the 1860’s) using original fabric.
Derelict Homestead & collapsed Cookhouse March 2001
Work commenced on the Cookhouse on the 8th July 2002, much of the existing materials which had been protected by the roof when the building collapsed were used.
The footings were located and all old posts that could be used had new bases spliced onto them. With reference to old photos and a newspaper article and the use of existing materials the position of windows and an internal door, and walls were located. The building was divided into three rooms with hessian, and the walls were lined with hessian and possibly calico small samples of both these materials have been found and sent away for analysis.
As at the 21st September all drop logs are in place with the exception of a section beside the chimney this will be done when the chimney is complete. The roof is in place and the spouting and ridge capping will be put on soon. Suitable windows and doors have been found and will be put in place when the chimney is completed.
Some leveling out of the floor and cleaning up the site has been done.
The privy has been erected in its original site using original posts and some of the logs.
Work on the chimney commenced on the 22nd of February and will be completed soon. All the windows and doors are in place. The Chimney was completed on the 5th March 2002.
Cookhouse September 2002
The opening of stage 2 and the presentation of the UNESCO award will take place on Saturday 12th April 2003 at 11 am. On Friday evening 11th April a get together of descendants of owners & lease holders & other interested persons will be held at the Cowangie Hall. The Bakers oven will be fired up and pizza’s will be served from 6.30 pm on Saturday 12th. The Bush Nurse cottage will be opened for inspection.
Opening of Stage 2