Koroit is a historic village that echoes its Irish Heritage
This historic town is set nestled in the lea of a dormant volcano called Tower Hill. Koroit has a fascinating Irish charm. A large number of Irish immigrants made Koroit their home in the 1840s and 1850s, with one of the most obvious links between Koroit and Ireland the potato crops grown in the rich volcanic soil surrounding the town. The Koroit Irish Festival is held annually on the first weekend in May to celebrate the town's heritage. The population of Koroit is 1,958.
What should I do?
- Walk or drive the town’s Heritage Trail, which has 30 places of interest. Eight sites in the town are listed on the Register of the National Estate
- Relax, enjoy a picnic and the playground at the lovely Botanic Gardens, designed by renowned landscape gardener and horticulturalist William Guilfoyle
- Visit the art gallery, antique shops, stores and eating venues throughout town
- Take a walk or bike ride along the spectacular Port Fairy-Warrnambool Rail Trail, which includes Koroit
- Visit the absolutely superb State Game Reserve and dormant volcano, Tower Hill (further information can be found at www.parkweb.vic.gov.au or www.worngundidj.org.au )
- Take a drive through Killarney and the lush green countryside that lured the Irish to their new home
Further information on Koroit can be found at the town’s official, comprehensive website, www.visitkoroit.com.au
Koroit and Tower Hill's history
At the time of European settlement the place we now know as Tower Hill and Koroit would have looked vastly different.
The land was thickly forested with drooping she-oaks and manna gums with ferns and other under storey plants thriving in the rich chocolate brown soil.
The local aboriginal men of the Peek Whuurong tribe - there were about 120 of the tribe living in the area - were described as being almost six foot tall and of stout build. This is not suprising, as their diet was rich and varied, with shellfish, kangaroo and native plants in abundance. It is this fertile volcanic soil that is still the very essence of Koroit.
The name Koroit was given to the area around Tower Hill by Robert Hoddle, Chief Surveyor for Port Phillip, when surveying the Port Fairy area about 1845. The exact meaning of the word is unclear. It is certainly from the language of the Peek Whuurong but whether it means fire, or is the word for Tower Hill itself - or has yet another meaning - is still a matter of debate.
Europeans were in the region from the late 1830s and by the early 1840s small pockets of land were under cultivation, mainly by farmers from the Port Fairy area. In 1843 William Rutledge, a Protestant from County Cavan, obtained from the crown 5120 acres at £1 per acre.
This parcel of land was known as the Farnham Special Survey.
It stretched from Killarney, south of Tower Hill, to the Merri River and perhaps more than any other occurrence had a great impact on the Koroit district. Rutledge encouraged Irish immigrants to become tenant farmers on his lands by offering them 14 year leases for small holdings and good incentives to clear the land and plant crops.
The discovery of gold in Victoria (1851) was also a catalyst for the region. The rapidly growing population on the goldfields required food and agricultural workers were in great demand to ensure these needs were met. These were the years immediately following the Irish potato famine (the mid 1840s) and the opportunities offered in Victoria at that time were grasped with both hands by many Irish families. By the late 1850s the Irish population in this district easily outnumbered the other settlers, who were generally Scottish and English.
In 1855 the Government Surveyor was asked to select a site for a National School; up until this time all schools were south and west of Tower Hill. He selected crown land to the north of Tower Hill along a track which now serves as one of the main entries to the town - High Street.
Two years later, in 1857, he was instructed to lay out a small town again to the north of Tower Hill. Up until this time there had been no real town, even though the area was quite densely settled with farming families on small acreages. The town was laid out on unalienated Crown land, which included the site of the National School.
The newly surveyed township was laid out with allotments for various church denominations, allotments for civic purposes, residential blocks, even a 20-acre site for public gardens. The township developed quite rapidly and by the 1870s Koroit was a flourishing town, with shops, banks, hotels and all the indications of a vibrant and thriving community.
Koroit Dining and Accommodation
ADDRESS: 100 Commercial Road, Koroit, 3282
PHONE: (03) 5565 8346
FAX: (03) 5565 8145
Experience a little touch of Ireland closer to home when you visit the Olde Courthouse Inn, Koroit's first pub. Built in 1852, it later became known as the Drumfernline Inn, operated by a Scotsman from Aberdeen. Fully restored with the original metal linings, high ceilings, open fireplaces and antique furniture, visitors can enjoy Queen size beds with ensuites, beautiful gardens and a heated pool. The Olde Courthouse Inn is an award-winning, four-star AAA rated accommodation.
ADDRESS: High Street, Koroit, 3282
PHONE: (03) 55657 926 or 0429 382 427
Relax and unwind while you enjoy the Irish charm of historic Koroit. On the doorstep of the free to enter Tower Hill nature reserve and only minutes from sheltered swimming beaches, Koroit is a quaint yet progressive town which provides the perfect blend of old and new.
Facilities: 25 powered sites, 31 unpowered, playground, excellent amenities block, pets allowed, walking distance to shopping centre, adjacent to botanical gardens and sporting facilities.
ADDRESS: 25 Station Street, Koroit, Vic 3282
PHONE: 0414 810 420 (+61 414 810 420)
"Birch House Koroit" is a circa 1880's cottage which is centrally located and luxuriously appointed. It has been lovingly maintained and sympathetically restored to reflect a bygone era with all the conveniences of a modern home. Birch House generates a warm, relaxed feeling as the character of the building shines through. Birch House has 3 bedrooms - 2 x queen beds and 1 x 2 single beds, all with 5 star quality linen, a large fully equipped country kitchen with a woodfire, and open fire in the lounge room and air-conditioning for those warmer days. Offering privacy and extensive gardens, the property provides a perfect escape for couples, familiies or a group of friends to relax.
Birch House and Birch Studio combined make a great package for groups of family or friends, check out our package deals on our website. (Catering for up to 8 people).
ADDRESS: 55 Anzac Avenue, Koroit
Saint Patrick's offers a choice of 5 beautifully furnished bedrooms and features a cosy lounge with open fire, library with books/CDs/DVDs and internet access, formal dining room with log fire, beautifully restored chapel for weddings or functions, and 2 acres of park like gardens.
Each, generously proportioned bedroom is individually styled with luxurious, private bathrooom, opulent fittings and decorated with eclectic furnishings providing the ultimate in comfort.
ADDRESS: 118 Commercial Road, Koroit, 3282
Currently being renovated, this trendy, historic, fully self-contained one-bedroom townhouse is right in the centre of town! Nearing completion, this former historic shop has undergone a full restoration and will soon be available for holiday or medium term accommodation. Surprisingly spacious, the townhouse now features a large lounge with reverse cycle heating, solid jarrah kitchen, master bedroom with BIR & Queen Sized bed, and dining room with French doors leading to the rear courtyard. There is loads of character throughout, such as polished baltic pine lining boards, Art Nouveau fretwork, ceiling roses and old time colour schemes. Off-street parking is available and you can walk to all facilities! The Cop Shop Townhouse is ideal for couples, but will accommodate up to four people. Great cooked breakfast facilities are available literally across the road!
ADDRESS: 101 Commercial Road, Koroit, 3282
PHONE: +61 3 5565 8201
FAX: +61 3 5565 8203
Established in 1853, this famous hotel has retained its Irish integrity and character. Take pleasure in a good yarn with a local over a smooth Guinness on tap, enjoy live music or dine in the hotel's unique home-style resaurant, where Irish favourites are a feature. B&B accommodation is also available to experience the charm of the hotel. Open seven days for lunch and dinner.
ADDRESS: 20 Carey Lane, Tower Hill, 3283
Boutique lavender and olive farm. Australian award winning lavender essential oil and flower. More than 100 varieties of lavender plants are integrated into the landscaped surrounds, with a gazebo to provide a spot in which to relax. There is a retail shop full of all things lavender including the tantalising delicacies of the jams, tea, honey and chocolate. Not forgotten is the extra virgin olive oil; look out for the olive and tomato sauce, olive chutney and olive mustard. Delicious!
ADDRESS: 126 Commercial Road, Koroit, 3282
Offering the best quality baked goods and a unique cafe/art gallery experience that stimulates the senses. Bakery: best quality baked goods at the best possible price with better than expected service. Cafe: the best relaxing enviroment to enjoy good food and beverages in Koroit. Gallery: to provide exceptional everchanging art exhibitions to enhance and encourage visitation.The bakery/cafe/gallery will - without compromise - stimulate taste, sight, smell and touch to enhance and add value to any visit to our business. Take the time... experience it!
ADDRESS: 25 Station Street, Koroit, Vic 3282
PHONE: 0414 810 420 (+61 414 810 420)
"Birch Studio" is a mud brick unit nestled in the extensive private gardens of Birch House Koroit. This luxurious couple accommodation is fully self contained, has a queen bed, a fully equipped kitchen, cathedral ceilings and a wood fire. It has a charm and character all of its own. With total privacy, extensive gardens, a large paved outdoor entertaining/bbq area all set in the shadows of the enormous 100 year old trees, this makes a tranquil relaxing setting for a romantic getaway.
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