Currently owned and operated by PIRSA the property has had a range of uses since settlement by the Robertson family in the 1840’s including a boy’s home, agricultural research, administration, and extension.
Self-guided tours of Stuan House are available to the public during office hours. Enquiries can be made to PIRSA's Struan office, Phone: 08 8762 9100
In 1843 John Robertson leased the Mosquito Creek run from the Government following an investigative trip carried out by him and his brother, William, from their property on the Wannon River in Victoria. He then proceeded to take up other leases in the area. In the book “Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia” it states his properties extended uninterruptedly for at least 30 miles and embraced nearly 100,000 acres.
A large number of articles have been written about the property and its occupants from 1843 to when the final sections, including the house, were purchased by the government in 1946. Many of these articles and paper clippings are held at the PIRSA Agricultural Centre at Struan House and a cross section has been incorporated on this web site as follows:
From 1946 to 1970 the house and 469 hectares were used as a “rural colony for the better class delinquent boys and youth” as is summarised in attached “Farm School Document”.
A further portion of the land was made available to the Department of Agriculture for research purposes and became an outstation of Kybybolite Research Centre. In 1959 Kybybolite’s cattle herd were transferred to Struan. During this period a number trials on beef cattle, including supplementary feeding and the effect of transferring cattle from the northern pastoral areas to southern SA for fattening, were investigated.
By 1970 the Farm School had closed and Struan outstation had become a research centre in its own right (Struan Research Centre). Dr Marshall Irving was a key driver in this process and Mr Ron McNeil was appointed manager. The Beef Research Centre Field Day booklet (PDF 2.3 MB) from 1970 demonstrates the scale of projects and technical staff employed at that time. Reference to other aspects of work can be found by searching this website.
Since that time numerous areas of livestock production, pasture establishment and cropping have been investigated. In the 1970’s during a rapid period of beef expansion the centre staff was heavily involved in TV programs, publications and running beef management schools across the state. Facilities were dramatically improved with innovative cattle handling facilities, semen collection, meat and brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication laboratories established.
A decision was made to transfer all the Agriculture Department staff from Naracoorte to Struan House, it was renovated for offices and meetings and officially opened in 1974. With the establishment of Regionalisation it became the South East Region head quarters for the Department of Agriculture in 1977. At that time the sections included a number of specialist units for the servicing of pest control, livestock health and husbandry, soil problems and farm management. Many of these and additional roles continue today.
The current role and description of Struan farm is detailed at Struan Agricultural Centre and the house recently had a further $2million upgrade.
Considerable further historical material about the house, property and the Robertson family is held in the house at Struan Regional Centre.
WG (Bill) Giles with assistance from Struan staff