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The Old Yarragon Dairy

Entire guesthouse hosted by Bente
5 guests2 bedrooms3 beds2 baths
Entire home
You’ll have the guesthouse to yourself.
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2 bedroom unit in Yarragon with private garden

The space
Sprucing up a Yarragon icon
by Gill Cooper
Andy Jobsz is a man with a big dream. To one day turn the iconic Yarragon Dairy and former yoghurt factory into a viable commercial enterprise in partnership with the local community.

From 1892, several creameries in the district supplied the butter factory at Trafalgar. From 1901, there was a butter factory in Yarragon. The Yarragon Dairy Company was formed in 1935 and in 1954 it was taken over by Petersville. The dairy later manufactured yoghurt and cottage cheese.
Manufacturing ceased in the late 1970s and the sprawling site on the corner of Waterloo and Factory Roads was abandoned and the premises became derelict over the next 35 years.

Andy and his wife Bente took ownership of the former Petersville property in 2001, rescuing it from a state of ruin. The decay on the core building has now been halted, offering usable spaces for let.

Since purchasing the dairy, Andy Jobsz has worked hard to demolish some outbuildings, while weatherproofing and restoring the main dairy’s brick and corrugated iron structures. He and Bente also converted the administration office and former laboratory of the Yarragon Dairy into residences. The couple now live in one of these renovated units while offering self-contained visitor accommodation.

In 2002, restoring, rendering and painting the facade of the Yarragon Dairy to ensure its preservation and meet heritage overlay requirements was the initial priority, along with re-roofing all main buildings. Andy recently clambered up his trusty ladder once more, sprucing up the facade signage with a fresh coat of paint for spring 2016.

Both Andy, who was born in Sri Lanka, and Bente, a Dane, migrated to Australia from the United Kingdom in 1973. The couple are due to celebrate their milestone 50th anniversary in February 2017.
They are now both officially retired from their respective vocations – Andy was a qualified

Since the unit renovations, operating guest accommodation for tourists.
Bente said that when the couple first took possession of the dairy her training came into timely use.

Andy continues to apply his painting skills, muscle and sinew to turn their vision into reality one day. It’s certainly been a labour of love for this hard-working couple whose resilience is constantly put to the test. And it’s not just the Block-style challenges these vast buildings present.

They have endured repeated disappointment as initial interest from potential business operators and community groups in leasing part of the Yarragon Dairy has waned in recent years.

Owners Andy and Bente say they have been forced to deal with a series of knockbacks when trying to secure potential tenants and permits needed to proceed with viable uses on this site.

Bente said early discussions to use the dairy as an arts studio and gallery had floundered, and the Council instead backed the smaller Railway Station Gallery redevelopment project with a grant.

“We still think the local rural history and the arts should be showcased in a larger working studio and exhibition space to draw artisans and entertain people visiting Yarragon,” she said.

“The dairy would be perfect for exhibitions and studio space for semi-professional painters, potters, ceramicists, sculptors or bush welders with a rural-industrial style who need more room to work. “Hopefully other grants to will come up and we can get more support from the locals next time.”
The couple admits they do need specialist advice on planning applications for viable commercial ventures and/or community partnerships at the dairy. They are unsure how to access support from Victorian Government departments to build a stronger business case and attract suitable grants.
“We do not know where to start. Who to turn to... after the past 15 years, who to trust,” Andy says. “I need help to cut the red tape to get the council permits required to get good business tenants into the dairy. It’s all seems like brick walls to us. Brick walls everywhere I look. ”
The relentless grind of many years of physical, emotional and financial strain trying to save the Yarragon Dairy from the elements is taking its toll. However, Andy’s eyes still light up when he gives guests the grand tour of the significant on-ground progress achieved so far.

Stepping inside the colossal structure of the old Yarragon Dairy quickly generates a sense of awe. You can easily see what possessed Andy and Bente to purchase the property in the first place.

Not to tear down but to restore, reuse and breathe real life into these solid old bones again.

The vast scale and high ceilings sets the imagination soaring on what multiple commercial and community purposes could be combined in the numerous sections of the main factory building.

Extensive grounds and large scenic pond offer options for a plant nursery or small fishing hatchery. The property is also home to plenty of native wildlife – mainly possums and magpies...

And whilst security on the site has recently been upgraded, anyone witnessing suspicious activity in the vicinity is urged to please immediately report the matter to Trafalgar or Warragul police.
A path to progress...

Andy’s priority so far has been to weatherproof and try and preserve the beauty of the main factory building and its adjacent boiler room. He is gradually replacing the enormous vertical industrial-scale windows and trying to source similar original metal frames to retain the building’s authenticity.
He recently learned that the old boiler room was originally fired by locally sourced coal beneath nearby grazing land. The steam generated the power needed to run the yoghurt plant, main dairy manufacturing including the powdered milk room operation.

And then there’s the well from which water was reportedly diverted to supply water to other areas of the town. Like an onion, this old girl has been slowly revealing its secrets one layer at a time. “The potential (for redeveloping the Yarragon Dairy) is fantastic but it could be lost,” Andy says.

“This dairy and the pub are the only iconic buildings left in Yarragon. It would be a great shame to let it slip away.”

What will the next chapter bring and how might the newly elected Baw Baw Shire Council and our community encourage a more cooperative approach to future business and community interests? Who can say...

Guest access
This is a two bedroom private unit with private garden
2 bedroom unit in Yarragon with private garden

The space
Sprucing up a Yarragon icon
by Gill Cooper
Andy Jobsz is a man with a big dream. To one day turn the iconic Yarragon Dairy and former yoghurt factory into a viable commercial enterprise in partnership with the local community.

From 1892, several creameries in the district supplied the butter factory at Trafalgar. From…
read more

Sleeping arrangements

Bedroom 1
1 queen bed
Bedroom 2
1 queen bed, 1 single bed

Amenities

Indoor fireplace
Kitchen
Free parking on premises
Wifi
Breakfast
High chair
TV
Pack ’n Play/travel crib
Security cameras on property
Unavailable: Carbon monoxide alarm

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Location

Yarragon, Victoria, Australia

Yarragon is located between between Warragul and Trafalgar and is one of only two towns not bypassed by the Princes Highway between Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley.

Yarragon is very much a tourist town, with an interesting selection of antique shops, craft shops, galleries and cafes attracting many visitors. Attractive gardens, pathways, shelters and a large rotunda provide a buffer between the busy highway and the variety of speciality shops and attractions that Yarragon has to offer.

The Strzelecki Ranges provide a scenic backdrop to Yarragon, with much of the land around the town devoted to dairy farms. A short drive south along the road to Leongatha climbs the foot hills of the Strzelecki Ranges, and scenic views can be enjoyed from many spots along the road.

The Gourmet Deli Trail consists of a network of farms, vineyards and outlets selling local produce and smallgoods, and covers much of the area between Drouin, Warragul and Yarragon and south through the Strzelecki Ranges.
Yarragon is located between between Warragul and Trafalgar and is one of only two towns not bypassed by the Princes Highway between Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley.

Yarragon is very much a tourist t…

Hosted by Bente

Joined in July 2020
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Things to know

House rules
Check-in: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
No smoking
No pets
Health & safety
Committed to Airbnb's enhanced cleaning process. Learn more
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Carbon monoxide alarm not reported Learn more
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Cancellation policy