A Hedge of Colourful Agapathus Blooms, Emu Bottom Homestead - Sunbury
Emu Bottom Homestead is a historic homestead near Sunbury, in Victoria. Built around 1836, Emu Bottom is the oldest existing farmhouse constructed by settlers in Victoria. It was so named because it was on low lying ground which was the haunt of numerous emus. The main homestead and some of its outlying buildings were constructed from local stone, dry coursed with creek mud and stringy bark.
Emu Bottom is also a rare example of early Australian colonial architecture, with its twelve paned deeply recessed windows recalling the old world, whilst the homestead was also intelligently adapted to the new harsh Australian environment with its wide verandas and easterly aspect.
The building of Emu Bottom homestead commenced circa 1836. George Evans (1785 – 1876), who had arrived on the Schooner Enterprise from Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) in 1835, settled near modern day Sunbury. Emu Bottom, later called Emu Vale, was occupied by George Evans, by squatting license, as one of many large squatting runs on Crown Land. In 1843, George Evans, then aged fifty-eight, married eighteen year old Anne Holden. Six children were born from the union and grew up at the homestead. After 1851, many squatting runs, including Emu Bottom, became available for outright purchase. To George Evans' dismay, “his” run was purchased by the immensely wealthy pastoralist W. J. T. Clarke. The homestead block of 640 acres stayed with George Evans, but this was hardly viable. In about 1860, George Evans leased the property and moved to operate the Royal Oak Hotel in Queen Street in central Melbourne. He died in Melbourne in 1876, but his family eventually returned to Emu Bottom. In 1916 the last of Evans’ son’s died and the property passed through several owners, being renamed “Holly Green.”
In 1968, the property was purchased by the current owners, and Holly Green was completely restored and was given back its original - if perhaps less poetic - name. During restoration, several discoveries were made including the original kitchen fireplace and oven, as well as some artifacts. Today the homestead and surrounds are managed as a reception centre.