Larra

Manager: C. I. A. Mann

Location: Derrinallum, Victoria.

Operations: Sheep, Cattle, Cropping.

Larra is located south of the township of Derrinallum, in the shadow of Mount Elephant. The property was first incorporated into the current Glenthompson Pastoral Company portfolio in 1984. Two thirds of the property is stony, volcanic, barrier country and the remaining third is arable land. The volcanic country is extremely fertile, with rich mineral soils and the stones themselves retain warmth, providing pockets of shelter for stock in the colder months.

 

Larra is home to several natural springs the largest of which is prolific in its output, producing a continuous, surface flow of outstanding, mineral-rich water. The output of the spring is in the order of 4 megalitres of water per day. In conjunction with the natural springs, the property is additionally watered by another 15 bores.

 

The Larra homestead and stables are historic bluestone buildings, which are each individually heritage listed with the Australian National Trust. The stables themselves are of particular interest to the Trust, as deemed to be of unique architectural and historical significance to the state of Victoria. The stable complex is an extensive, integrated series of bluestone buildings, constructed in a gothic style in 1873. Designed for the Scottish pioneer John Lang Currie by Scottish architect George Henderson, of the Geelong firm Davidson and Henderson, the architect was subsequently employed to design the extensions to the Larra homestead in 1875. Henderson was engaged after previously completing the design for the neighbouring homestead of Titanga for pastoralist Alexander Buchanan in 1872.

 

In its early days of pastoralisation, Victoria’s Western District was ultimately largely a Scottish preserve. Scotsman, John Brown, was the first pioneer to settle in the Mount Elephant region after arriving there in 1840. Larra was established on part of Brown's original run by the partnership of John Lang Currie and Thomas Anderson, who purchased the 12,800 hectare run in 1844. Currie subsequently acquired Anderson's share in 1850 establishing himself as a successful Western District pastoralist and he continued to expand upon Larra's boundaries throughout his lifetime. Currie ultimately established the property as the centre of his extensive pastoral empire, including numerous other holdings.

 

At Larra, original rubble, stone cottages were progressively extended and ultimately integrated into the current single-story basalt homestead in 1875. After Currie's death in 1898 Larra was duly inherited by his eldest son who retained the property until his own death in 1935. Currie's daughter then took over ownership of Larra until in 1947 the whole estate was sold to the Soldier Settlement Commission. At this time the property was subdivided into the homestead block and fourteen smaller farms. An extensive fire in 1944 destroyed all of the original station buildings with the exception of the stables and homestead itself.

 

The single-story stable building housed the homestead horses as well as Currie's own stud of thoroughbred racehorses. The stable complex incorporates high walled yards, a stallion box, horse stalls, loose-boxes (spanned by a concealed alley used for feeding access), a carriage house, harness room, blacksmith’s forge and groom’s quarters. Constructed of western plains basalt with an original iron roof, the complex exhibits finely axed masonry in combination with restrained Gothic detailing, particularly evident in the pointed-arch window heads and the central, imposing bellcote. The stables at Larra are considered of unique, architectural significance to both the Western District and Victoria as a rare, intact and extensive example of a building of its kind. It is considered that the stables are additionally demonstrative of the historical significance of the early Western District pastoral industry and of the successes of pioneer pastoralist John Lang Currie in particular, being seen as indicative of the importance he placed upon housing and working his horses.