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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Emu Bottom Wetlands Reserve and Homestead

Emu Bottom Wetlands Reserve is a large area of protected land 3 km north of the regional centre of Sunbury, 44 north of Melbourne.

The Jackson River flows through the Wetlands Gorge, the habitat of platypuses and water rats.

The Platypus Walking Trail runs through the Reserve, passing three platypus viewing vantage points.

Nearby is the Emu Bottom Homestead, Victoria's oldest homestead, built in 1836.

The story of Emu Bottom Homestead begins on August 30 1835, when the schooner Enterprise sailed up Port Phillip Bay. On board was the first party of settlers who built the huts of the banks of the Yarra from which the City of Melbourne then grew.

Among that group was George Evans, who after exploring the area, chose to settle 40 km from the city, in a picturesque valley. It was here, in 1836, that he built the handsome stone building now known as Emu Bottom Homestead.

George Evans named his homestead 'Emu Bottom' because he had settled in the low lying ground of the valley well frequented by large flocks of emus.

He was a bachelor of 51 years when he set about building his homestead of sandstone gathered from large rocky outcrops he found in the valley and timber cut from the surrounding countryside.
At this time there were five thousand sheep as well as other live stock grazed on the large parcel of land on which George Evans had claimed as his 'run'. Evans also became a successful breeder of draught horses.

It was a tough life for the early settlers but George Evans early efforts were rewarded and life flowed on successfully at Emu Bottom.

In 1843, when he was fifty eight, he married a young girl of eighteen called Anne Holden and in the ensuing years six children were born.

Towards the end of the fifties, Evans purchased the Royal Oak in Queen Street, Melbourne when his spacious squattage was reduced in size to surrounding estates and he was left with 640 acres, he found it too small for his old pursuit -that of grazier. He became licensee of the hotel from 1861 -1865 and after that time he lived next door until his death in 1876.

Nestled amid verdant countryside and surrounded by fertile valley pastures, Emu Bottom Homestead captures the magical spirit of Australia's pioneer past. The windows of the homestead look out upon unspoilt landscape and enchanting garden views. It is now a commercial enterprise, with a restaurant and function room.

There is no charge to wander around the grounds and adjacent paddocks, inspect the various old buildings and meet the resident Emu!

It's hard to believe that this secluded spot is just 44 km from Melbourne.

I visited the Wetlands and Homestead on October 10, 2007

The pictures of my trip are at Emu Bottom Wetlands and Homestead

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