Homestead history

Galwiji Homestead has been within the Pryor family for 4 generations. Parts of the homestead date back over 100 years with a number of additions to the home over the past century. The following is a brief history from the only remaining second generation Pryor, Dr W J (Bill) Pryor.

History and acquisition of the property

The region surrounding what is today Pryors Road Scotsburn was originally Wathaurong aboriginal land and was ‘acquired’ and duly released by the Victorian government in the 1870s. It was made available for small buyers which included miners who most commonly developed small mixed farms and cleared timber then covering this region. Some purchases were speculative.

Some landholders later sold logs for boxing (timber framing for mines) to the nearby goldmining industry in Buninyong and surrounds.

The homestead block of Galwiji was purchased in the early 1920s along with several small holdings by William P Pryor following his return from World War 1 and his brother Alfred Pryor. The property had been owned by William and Annie Skewes who had bought it from John Williams in 1877. It is believed that the original homestead was built circa 1880 by a Buninyong builder, George West.

The brothers Pryor established a commercial timber mill and over the next decades cleared the property initially for agricultural use with a range of production animals.

From 1950 the farming, which for a period included cattle, concentrated on fine wool merino sheep production which continued until January 2013. It has been a successful operation resulting, on several occasions, in the top price in the fine wool market.

The name of the property Galwiji was adopted in 1950 and sought to give some recognition to its aboriginal origin soundwise and also recognise the names of the four sons of WP Pryor (Alfred not having any children). Galwiji is made up of Gordon, Alan, William and Jim.

The present day property of nearly five hundred acres resulted from a number of acquisitions and sales in the intervening years. At its most extensive Galwiji was nearly 2000 acres but not all was developed.

Galwiji Homestead in 1950 compressed

Galwiji in the 50s before modern renovations

The homestead, as seen above, has seen several extensions and renovations since the 1950s.

As the present owners have aged, the focus of the farm has changed. In 2005, nearly 250 acres were planted by the next generation of sons with sugar gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx). The planting was carried out in the expectation that an Australian timber industry would develop and go some way to replace the vast amount of timber imported from Southeast Asia, PNG and the Pacific Islands much of which is illegally harvested and very damaging to the environment. Time will tell whether this was a prudent move.

The cleared paddocks are currently leased to a Geelong school for its farm programme in sheep and young cattle production.

Philosophy of the present owners

The owners of Galwiji, the Pryor family, are committed to an environmentally sustainable form of farming and land use. This incorporates reduction of the carbon footprint including use of rainwater, solar power and overall respect for the land including the present forestry project.

The family opened Galwiji Homestead to the public in 2012 with the sole object of keeping it in continuing good order, so that it may be shared and enjoyed with others while continuing its history for a second century.

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Galwiji Homestead Renovations in 1979 compressed

One of a number of extensions in progress 1979