Campaspe News - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID RAK

KEVIN Wills can do noth­ing but shake his head in dis­gust when he vis­its Rochester’s Ran­dom House.

The 66-year-old has fond mem­o­ries of the old home­stead and smiles when he re­mem­bers what was the per­fect lo­ca­tion for his daugh­ter to tie the knot.

But he said an “ab­so­lute dis­grace” was the only way to de­scribe what has be­come of the his­toric struc­ture that was built in 1860.

Kevin, like many in Rochester, was pleased to learn ear­lier this year Ran­dom House will be sold.

But he hoped the sale would ac­tu­ally come to fruition, un­like many other prom­ises made about the prop­erty.

Fed­eral So­cial Ser­vices Min­is­ter Dan Te­han was re­cently asked by the Mem­ber for Mur­ray Plains Peter Walsh to step in and ex­pe­dite the sale of the her­itage-listed build­ing.

Mr Walsh said he had been on a bu­reau­cratic red tape trail for more than two years fight­ing to save the his­toric home­stead.

“It was pur­chased by the Vic­to­rian Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices in May 2008 and sadly has been al­lowed to go to rack and ruin,” he said.

“The com­mu­nity was pleased when the Vic­to­rian Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices con­firmed that ne­go­ti­a­tions had be­gun to al­low the sale of the prop­erty.

“How­ever in April Vic­to­rian Fam­i­lies and Chil­dren Min­is­ter Jenny Mikakos ad­vised the prop­erty was orig­i­nally pur­chased by the Commonwealth for the State of Vic­to­ria un­der a cap­i­tal works deed and that her depart­ment had writ­ten to the Commonwealth Gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing op­tions for sell­ing the prop­erty.

“We are now into June and I don’t see or hear of any­thing hap­pen­ing.”

Kevin walks his dogs past the prop­erty each day and said it was sad to see it get worse ev­ery year.

“There is so much po­ten­tial here,” he said.

“If the rub­bish is cleaned up and it’s given some at­ten­tion, this could be a great venue for wed­dings and other func­tions.

“The build­ing and the sur­round­ing prop­erty have a great at­mos­phere, but it’s all go­ing to waste.

“The vandalism is al­ready show­ing and that’s only go­ing to get worse while it sits va­cant. At the mo­ment it’s only good for at­tract­ing snakes in sum­mer.”

Mr Walsh said he fre­quently heard from lo­cals who were fed up with watch­ing the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of Ran­dom House.

“It is a mag­nif­i­cent prop­erty which was, and should still be, the jewel in the crown for Rochester,” he said.

“I have now for­mally writ­ten to the Fed­eral Min­is­ter on be­half of the Rochester com­mu­nity to ask that the Commonwealth ex­pe­dite what­ever ac­tion it needs to en­sure the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment can of­fer this prop­erty for sale.

“It’s been a long and te­dious process – but I have no in­ten­tion of giv­ing up un­til Ran­dom House is given the op­por­tu­nity to be re­stored to its for­mer glory.”

DIS­GUSTED — Kevin Wills is dis­ap­pointed with the state of Rochester's Ran­dom House.

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