ROCHESTER’S Random House is a ‘‘disgraceful mess’’, according to Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh.
Mr Walsh and Rochester residents are calling for the historic building on Bridge Road to be restored to its former glory.
The home sits on about 9ha, has the Campaspe River running through it and most recently was used to house victims of domestic violence, but now sits overgrown and empty.
Mr Walsh said many Rochester residents were concerned about the deteriorating condition of the homestead and angry about the messy state of its once beautifully manicured grounds.
‘‘In the hands of the Andrews Government it has gone to wrack and ruin,’’ Mr Walsh said.
‘‘The historic homestead was built in the 1860s and has significant historical importance to country Victoria, but in particular to Rochester and district.’’
Mr Walsh said he began pursuing the case for Random House more than 12 months ago, but with no success.
In Parliament on August 16, Mr Walsh questioned whose responsibility the property was and what plan of action would be put in place to care for it in accordance with its heritage listing under the National Trust.
Family and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos finally confirmed last month the property is owned by the Department of Health and Human Services and all leasing and maintenance-related activities were the responsibility of that department.
‘‘The Labor Minister also wrote that she shared our concerns about the disrepair of the property,’’ Mr Walsh said.
‘‘She gave written assurance that action has been taken to see that the homestead is appropriately maintained and the responsible division within the department has been contacted to oversee the required upkeep.
“Let’s now see if the minister is as good as her word that she shares our concerns.’’
Rochester’s Ray McAsey said he hoped the house could be restored and utilised.
‘‘When you drive in there are these gorgeous trees that just can’t be replaced,’’ he said.
‘‘The former tenants just upped and left and now it is in ruins. Something has to be done.’’
Mr McAsey also said since the 2011 floods the home was now considered an at-risk property. ‘‘This might impact on selling the property to a private buyer but if the department can restore it that will make it much more appealing,’’ he said.
Mr Walsh said it was important the community gets involved.
‘‘Action is needed urgently to bring this iconic homestead and gardens back to the condition they were in before they were allowed to deteriorate so badly.’’