Wrl 2018 lennon 19th century rural estates australia rid

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Hagley, Tasmania

19TH CENTURY EASTERN AUSTRALIAN HOMESTEADS and their RURAL ESTATE SETTINGS Jane Lennon AM PhD WRL Initiative 22-03-18 web-conference

Europeans entered Terra Australis with their herds to establish rural estates or ‘squatting stations’ as they were then called, but it was already occupied – for 60, 000 years

Europeans entered a stable landscape, described variously by the new settlers as park-like ‘splendid, open country consisting of plains and downs’ and ‘a wildflower garden’ (Rolls, 1997:39). The rate of human-induced change in the landscape after 1788 accelerated rapidly: Australia ‘experienced colonization and industrialization … a compressed, double revolution’ (Griffiths, 1997: 4).

Tocal, NSW, 1820s ; now an agricultural college

Arcadian estates Elizabeth Bay House was built between 1835 and 1839 by the accomplished architect and builder John Verge for Alexander Macleay, the Colonial Secretary for NSW. Image copyright owner: Historic Houses Trust

Elizabeth Bay House is a Greek Revival style building, originally surrounded by a 54-acre garden on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour , but now situated within a densely populated inner city suburb. It was a textbook example of the picturesque school. Elizabeth Bay and Sydney from Mrs Darling's Point Road by Conrad Martens, c1848.

Pastoral Empires 1830-1915 As in England, a grand country estate represented the pinnacle of social and material achievement. In front of the homestead often in the latest Italianate design there was a formal garden in geometric pattern, with orchard and squared cutting and vegetable gardens out of sight to the side of the main building. The main driveway and a belt of English trees created a parklike setting.

Penshanger 1835, Louis Haghe lithograph

As well as in central Tasmania, the Western District of Victoria with some of the richest agricultural land in Australia had many grand holdings by 1870, as well as the Cumberland Plain along the Nepean River valley, the Bathurst plains and in the Hunter Valley of NSW and on the Darling Downs of southern Queensland. Yalla-y-Poora 1864, by Eugene Von Guerard

Colonial artists paintings of successful rural estates: Above: Mr Clark's Station, Glenara on Deep Creek, near Bulla,1867 by Eugene von Guerard Left: Jeremiah Ware’s stock on Minjah Station, western Victoria, 1856, by Robert Dowling

Successful Australian rural property owners commissioned architect designed mansions following European styles in the nineteenth century. These houses illustrated both their wealth, and their transition to permanent residents of a new country. Werribee Park is set on 1,000 acres of land 35kms southwest of Melbourne. It includes the Werribee Mansion (1873) with formal garden, grotto, mansion gates and gate lodge. 1922 -seminary; 1973 government park [above] –with boutique hotel, open range zoo, rose garden

Wooriwyrite, a 30 room two storey homestead located on the Mt Emu Creek, near Noorat, western district of Victoria, was erected in 1883 for influential Scottish born pastoralist Thomas Shaw. It was designed by local architect Alexander Hamilton and replaced a late 1840's homestead. The unusual and massive Victorian Italianate style homestead is one of the largest in Western Victoria, and intact. Within the grounds are an array of stone walls, out houses and farmyard remnants, surrounded by picturesque parkland. One of the great pleasures of a large farm garden is that space is no constraint and each garden enjoys the benefit of large trees that frame distant landscape views.

Coochin Coochin, Queensland By Conrad Martens-1854; and 2009

An 1840s pastoral estate which has maintained its view lines to the mountains and broad acre grazing and valley cropping character.

The ‘Harrow’ homestead and property, just west of Cambooya, has one of the largest holdings on the eastern Darling Downs, Queensland. Inspired by the great estates of the UK, the homestead was built in 1860s for Englishman, Robert Ramsay.

A pastoral landscape replaced by cotton in the last decade

Maintenance of formal gardens

Maintenance of orchard, stock loading yards, hedges, roads, sheds, post and rail fences, mature trees all require different skills

Convict-made sheep country; native vegetation removed and ‘living fences’ [i.e hawthorn hedges] planted in the 1820s. The owners, seventh generation of the Archer family, need to introduce new crops to remain viable as a farm; but it must remain within the historic fence lines of hedges.

Opium poppies grown under strict government control on an old rural estate in Tasmania are a new high value crop

YARRAN, Jondaryan 20 May 2012

Over the garden wall, coal seam gas mining changing the pastoral landscape

View E across Downs from Yarran 20 May 2013

Woodlands, 1843, Tullamarine, Victoria now an historic park managed by the National Park Service

Woodlands homestead 1860, 1890, 1919 , 2013

Despite maintaining the 1843 Magnolia in the courtyard, garden and old trees it has become a recreation parkland

Woodlands anticlockwise: 1860, 1993, 2016, 2015 The farming landscape of 1860 has been replaced with streamside vegetation, encroaching red gum woodland and kangaroos. This is the objective of a National Parks Service historic park, although retired race horses graze the front paddocks.


Wangaratta, Victoria Architect Thomas Watt designed the homestead built in 1857 for Joseph Docker.

Significant for its surviving outbuildings and fencing, which demonstrate a variety of vernacular building construction techniques and materials utilised by settlers in the developing colony. These, together with remnant farm machinery, citrus plantings and Olive and White Mulberry groves are also representative of early agricultural industries developed during the early colonial period.

Bontharambo Driveway of English oaks now replanted with Algerian oaks due to drying weather.

William Guilfoyle, director of Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gadens designed the grounds around Mawallok homestead, 1909

Mawallok 1909 and 2012

Some of the excellent studies of rural Estates; as well as Australian Garden History Society journal from 1992

ISSUES 1. Most historic rural estates have passed out of ownership of the original families who created them except in Tasmania. Australia’s population is 90 % urban. 2. Existing planning and heritage legislation applies to the homestead, some outbuildings like shearing sheds and the enclosed garden but not the wider estate. 3. Gardens and exotic plantings of trees in parklike settings have not been maintained as owners cannot afford a team of garden staff. 4. Most local government areas have undertaken biodiversity surveys but the surveyors fail to see the clump of Araucarias and cordylines or yuccas, clues from a colonial garden. 5. Even in historic garden management people are appointed without a proper ‘apprenticeship’ to some more experienced person who knew and had a feel for the original spirit of the garden and rural estate in its original design, layout, planting, succession of growth, seasonal variations and would willingly pass on this knowledge. 6. Changing economics and global markets have led to a change from pastoral production on rural estates to high value crops like cotton in the north, opium poppies, wine grapes, lucerne and rotations of grains like sorghum, canola, wheat. 7.

Climate change, less water, longer dry periods and bush fires are changing the longevity and sustainability of designed rural estates.

ISSUES –maintenance of over mature avenues

ISSUES –replacement of senescent garden planting in a drought landscape

ISSUES –new crops –vines –replacing traditional pastoral activities on historic estates

ISSUES –every year a number of significant rural homesteads and their garden estates are destroyed by bushfires

ISSUES - Mt Mitchell homestead and garden estate, Lexton, Victoria, looks onto new wind farm


The ongoing boom in rural property values has attracted wealthy entrepreneurs who want both an historic colonial homestead often with park like gardens and a working property. Recent sales of historic homesteads have been to wealthy off-farm owners as a destination to visit; for visitor accommodation to offset maintenance costs; for corporate retreats and functions.

Is this enough to keep the designed cultural landscapes of these places intact and understood?

SOLUTIONS: Maintaining about 3,000 kilometres of historic hawthorn hedges remaining from tens of thousands of kilometres of hedges around Tasmania in the nineteenth century, When wire fencing developed, new roads and small five acre lots were developed, many hedges were pulled out, others died or became senescent. Although not protected by planning legislation, you can appeal to the owners to look after them. To make hedges stock proof, they are cut and laid every 20 to 30 years.

Source: Fiona Breen http://www.abc.net.au/news/201711-04/restoring-tasmanias-hawthorn-hedges/9106960

A First in Australia: State government legislated protection of South Australia’s Environment and Food Production Areas 2016: 19th century small farms in a designed landscape on same lot sizes


Quamby, Tasmania

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