O’Halloran and Hare Farmhouse

An excerpt from the Latrobe City Heritage Study 2005.


Hare Farmhouse rear

The site of the O’Halloran and Hare farmhouses is situated within Mathison Park at the southern end of Lake Hyland. The property contains the ruins of buildings, wells and trees associated with the settlement and development of this property by the O’Halloran and Hare families from c.1870-1950, which include:

– The ruinous remains of the c.1920 Hare farmhouse. This comprises concrete walls that appear to have been created in situ and built up in layers using timber framework and locally collected randomly-sized stone rubble aggregate with assorted steelwork for reinforcement (now visible in places such as pipes, angles, saw, fencing wire etc.. Timber cast in for fixing plates such as skirtings. There are large window openings and an arched back verandah. At the rear is a concrete water tank and stand,
– The ruined slab footings of the former dairy/milking shed and a pile of rubble.
– Two partly destroyed wells constructed of brick and concrete render.
The O’Halloran well has an internal diameter of 2.5m and begins to form the dome at around 0.75m below ground. The dairy well has an internal diameter of 1.65m and the brickwork begins to form the dome roof at about 0.3m below ground. The original domes are missing from the top of both.
– Significant vegetation includes an Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens?) at the front of the ruined Hare farmhouse, a Peppercorn (Schinus mollevar. areira) at the south-west corner of house ruins (which is reputed to have been planted by O’Halloran) and the remains of an orchard including 3 plums, (and others probably seedings), 6 pear trees, and one quince.
The perimeter of the property is planted with more recent Australian natives, which are presumably related to the more recent development of this area as a public park. This has also included the installation of interpretive signage.
For the full excerpt document follow this link.     O’Halloran and Hare Farmhouse Ruins
For the complete Heritage study document see: http://www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/220024/Latrobe_City_heritage_study_part3.pdf



O’Halloran Tank before restoration

 O’Halloran’s underground water tank was originally built to store and provide domestic water. These circular brick tanks, also known as underground cisterns were common to many pioneer homes in Australia and the Hazelwood district. Their cylindrical shape and domed-top design was probably derived from centuries old domestic water storage tank designs used in Britain and Europe. The tanks varied in size depending upon the required storage capacity.

 In 1876 Thomas O’Halloran selected 210 acres (85 hectares) and the northern part of this land is now Mathison Park. O’Halloran’s first home was of log and bark construction. He built another home, probably one of weatherboard construction and this tank, in the 1880’s. The tank was constructed from Morwell bricks. The brick factory used wood fired kilns to manufacture the bricks.

 It is believed O’Halloran’s home was located south-east of the tank. Rain from O’Halloran’s roof drained into the tank probably via a clay stormwater pipe that connected the house’s downpipe to the tank. . The nearby reinforced concrete house, known as Hare’s Farmhouse was probably built in the 1920’s.

 A hand pump was mounted on the north side of the tank and connected to the tank below water level. Water was pumped into hand held buckets and carried in to the kitchen where it was used for drinking and cooking. The water was also used for washing.

Sometime after Hare’s Farmhouse was built, a clay stormwater pipe was laid to drain rainwater from the house’s down-pipe into the tank. In the 1950’s or early-1960’s, an electric pump was installed by resident Bill Dobbin to pump water from O’Halloran’s Tank to the concrete tank at the back of Hare’s Farmhouse.

 The tank’s domed top prevented debris and other rubbish from contaminating the water supply. At the top of the domed-tanks were either a square or round opening, usually with a lid. The openings were just large enough for a person to enter for cleaning or repairs. 

 O’Halloran’s Tank has an internal diameter of 2.5 metres and at around 0.75 metres below the ground, the brickwork begins to form the dome roof of the tank.

 The original O’Halloran’s Tank was built from hand-made bricks and lined inside and outside with cement render. This construction protected the mortar between the bricks from weathering.

 Galvanized water tanks replaced brick underground tanks.

 Text by Rob de Souza-Daw