Murdoch University has been given in-principle support by the National Trust to lease the heritage working farm at Whitby Falls, near Perth, Western Australia.
The 230 hectare site in the Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale has significant historic and cultural value to Western Australia. It will be maintained and utilised by the University to support teaching and research in veterinary and agricultural sciences, as well as other disciplines such as environmental science and conservation.
The Vice Chancellor of Murdoch University, Professor Richard Higgott said: “Whitby Falls is a remarkable site and we are extremely pleased to become its new custodian and advocate.
“This partnership with the National Trust presents an exciting opportunity for Murdoch’s students and researchers and will benefit the local community in various ways.
“We will manage the property as a working farm and teaching centre, whilst maintaining its important cultural heritage. Public access to Whitby Falls will be maintained and the University will be working closely with the National Trust and the Shire to ensure that this unique site is preserved for future generations.
“Initially we plan to expand the activities of our School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences to Whitby Falls, which will particularly benefit teaching and research in farm animal health, welfare and production, and in equine studies.
“Students will have more opportunity to work with animals and study the rural environment. Other projects will follow.”
Murdoch University plans to invest $1.7m into the infrastructure needed to re-establish a working beef cattle and sheep farm, and will be seeking further investment and support for the development of teaching and public-use facilities.
The University will be working closely with the National Trust on funding applications.
The estate’s establishment as a pastoral property dates back to 1848.
The National Trust said: “We are delighted to secure the future of this important heritage site. We are confident that Murdoch University has the know-how and resources to ensure the property is well managed and we are very supportive of its plan to make it a multi-disciplinary educational facility that preserves the heritage value of the site.”
The University plans to have students working on-site in 2013, with expansion of this activity increasing as facilities are developed.