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Kow Plains Homestead in Cowangie, Victoria in the Mallee
The beautifully restored drop log construction Homestead
Extremely rare in the Mallee, structures like Kow Plains Homestead was built as a head station for Kow Plains and the adjoining runs owned by Dugald Macpherson and William Macdonald probably in 1879. There was a complex of buildings in Cowangie, Victoria, of which only the homestead is substantially intact, but there remains also a collapsed outbuilding (probably the cookhouse or men's quarters), the remains of a privy, and a wall fragment incorporated into the end of the later stables. These are all of log panel construction using the callitris pine which grows in the area, and because of the distance from settled districts few manufactured materials were used other than nails, ironmongery, glass and door and window joinery. There are also on the site a well and tank, and the remains of other structures of twentieth century date, some of which have aspects of technical interest.
The house is typical of a number in the Mallee area, skillfully built probably by one or more travelling artisans. All or nearly all others are believed to have collapsed, been destroyed or moved. It is therefore one of the very few remaining authentic specimens of the type, and an evocative remnant of settlement under extreme conditions, and of architectural significance as a rare surviving specimen of a nineteenth century construction type particularly adapted to local conditions and materials.
The significance of Kow Plains was recognized when it was heritage listed in 1989 since then the importance of its restoration has received wide spread support. The interest in Kow Plains can be gauged by the number of visitors over 1000 in the first 12 months with signage off the highway.
In September 2002 Kow Plains received an honourable mention in the UNESCO Asian Pacific Heritage awards this further confirmed the significance of Kow Plains (left).
Kow Plains Homestead and Cowangie 1859 - Today
The township of Cowangie is a reminder and an example of the early years of settlement in a remote Mallee town, where grain growing was the main source of income. Cowangie in the early years of settlement was known as Copi (after the white powdery substance found there), Cow Plains then Kow Plains. The Lands Department finally stepped in and called the town Cowangie.
The first buildings appeared along the main street, Dayman Street, in 1912. During the first years of settlement the homestead was the focal point for meetings, town gatherings and church services.
The homestead is part of the remains of the Kow Plains Station complex first settled in 1859. The homestead has been dated as being built in 1879, and the wells were sunk in the 1860s. The building is a drop log construction of local pine. It is one of the very few remaining buildings of this type, and an evocative remnant of settlement and life in one of the most remote and hostile parts of the state. The last time the homestead was occupied was in 1961, and then in 1962 it was purchased to establish a quarry.
The Mildura Rural City Council purchased the property in 1998 and a committee of management has been set up to see to the preservation of the homestead and other historic sites in the town. Since the purchase of the homestead, working bees have been held to clean up the site in readiness for preservation work to commence.
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