A dilapidated Keilor homestead frequently used by squatters could be up for restoration.
Seven Brimbank councillors toured Robertson’s Homestead in Sydenham Park on Saturday to assess whether the 1840s bluestone cottage could be restored.
Two members of the Sydenham Action Group, Richard Carthew and Neil Hunichen, are proposing the house be repaired for use as a café or tourist attraction along a proposed new bicycle route through Sydenham Park.
“We’d just like to see it put to use,” said Mr Carthew. “It could be a café or a restaurant, something that would bring a bit of life back to the area.
“If it was Como House or any other historic building in the city that had been neglected, there would be uproar.”
The homestead has fallen into disrepair in recent years. The land it is on was bought by the City of Keilor in 1974 when it purchased Sydenham Park. The house is protected by a heritage overlay.
According to Brimbank council, it is one of a significant group of pastoral homesteads in Melbourne’s western region built with local bluestone.
It’s currently fenced off and is on land closed off to the public, but that hasn’t stopped squatters taking up residence. Mattresses and water bottles are strewn through the building.
Brimbank city development director Stuart Menzies said the council was considering funding for the “stabilisation and possible restoration” of the building as part of the council’s 2017-18 budget process.
Deidre Far For, the great-great granddaughter of James Robertson, the pastoralist who built the house almost 180 years ago, was thrilled the house’s restoration was back on the table.Mrs Far For, 84, proposed the idea almost 20 years ago, but found there was little interest at the time. Her ancestors emigrated to Australia in 1841 from Glen Muick, Scotland.
They purchased 5700 acres (about 2300 hectares) in Keilor for five pounds an acre, building the homestead and other farm buildings.