Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Nostalgia

There's a little piece of history just a couple of kms walk from my house. Before development, we used to exit the back paddock on Laurie and Chippy and gallop the entire length up to Bella Vista farm. A decrepit and dilapidated old homestead with rickety old wooden buildings purported to be the original Seven Hills Post Office and the relative outhouses of a once attractive farmhouse. Clare do you remember galloping along this line of Norfolk Pines from the Norbrick site up to the house?


Norfolk pines were planted by settler farmers to define their ridges and driveways. Elizabeth probably rode her horse drawn sulky along this same path in 1801. In today's PC society however, apparently there are hidden dangers that require a bright yellow sign:


The property is now cyclone fenced to prevent trespassers and vandals but akshully Labradorz duznt readz good.

They're only a mild irritation to a determined 'let's pretend I'm a photographer' as well . . .

John and Elizabeth Macarthur (John being credited with bringing the Merino to Australia from Spain) farmed sheep on this property in addition to their properties at Camden and Parramatta. The untold history is that John, partial to duelling and being recalled to England to account for his bad behaviour, on more than one occasion, left his enterprising wife Elizabeth in charge of the farms . . she is rarely credited with the work done in introducing wool as a major industry to the colony. He was sold the land by an emancipated convict called Fovaux in 1801 and farmed it until its sale in 1821, preferring the vaster and less wooded Camden property.

When Clare and I first started riding up here, these sheds were covered in cobwebs and still had signs of life from over 70 years ago within their walls. Old mouldy saddles and yokes, boots, workbenches, pots and pans, tools and shears, 1920's magazines and newspapers . .it was a weird wonderland but we never thought to souvenir them. We just loved the musty 'oldness' of the place. We did hitch our horses to a hitching rail so old I bet they could feel the vibe of years gone by. Come to think of it, they were a bit spooked by the place.

I must admit, I never really understood the obsession Australians had for corrugated iron, it's everywhere. (Tin Roof's Rusty - think Love Shack!)

In the 1890s, Edward Henry Pearce of Bella Vista was declared the "largest and most successful orange grower in the colony." Bella Vista was sold by the Pearces in 1950. The old stables below were still being used about 10 years ago when the place was an agistment property. (God that's a nice accidental shot through a piece of wire 3 x 3 cm, Ken Duncan eat yer heart out - no photoshop retouch there yer mug! . . The rest of you may applaud now!)

The homestead and old farm buildings are now being preserved. No longer can we freely walk up to it's back door due to building works and the installation of the protective fence. It's now owned by the Baulkham Hills Shire Council and The Friends of Bella Vista Farm Park are working actively to achieve the restoration of the site, they spied me suspiciously wondering the perimeter whilst sitting in their plastic bunnings chairs and having vegemite sandwiches for lunch.

There were of course bees, happily gathering pollen from the daughter of a 200 year old citrus . . the leaf looks quite different to that of modern orange trees but the blossom smell was unmistakable.


There are several massive Moreton Bay Figs in the garden. Due to the limitations of the fence, I couldn't capture the huge tree in its entirety without it looking like it's surrounded by wire (which it is), just enough to show it's gargantuan roots. These are romantic roots (stop giggling) . They're the sort you want to lay a picnic rug between and schnoox with someone special on a balmy summer evening . . . Seriously, there's nothing nicer! Trust me I've done it . . more than once . . .ahem! Can you see the kookaburra?

The historical significance was lost on Lily who saw her first sheep! Very impressed but they were fortunately protected by said cyclone fence and despite their objections, remained untouchable.

She did have more success meeting up with some friends and managed to roll in something foul smelling although neglected to notice the pond of putrid water thank goodness or she'd have been in like Flynn!

And that brings me to Henry . . .I think I have a crush on Henry, we've met a few times walking our pampered pooches . . . the little black Kelpie cross is his - he's adorable and ever so friendly (the Kelpie although so is Henry), the rough collie . . .*sob* belongs to his wife! Who is a 'show dog' person hence it's incredibly flooofy fur and aloof demeanour . . unlike Henry who is so cute I just wanna bring him home! For a steak dinner you understand.

Ahem . .back to the history lesson . . .Part of this land was later acquired by the Pearce family and became known as Bella Vista. The suburb that now surrounds the farmhouse is named Bella Vista. This real estate is so expensive that recent attempts to name our development area "Bella Vista Meadows" rather than the more mundane "Kellyville" met with violent objection from the residents who felt their little enclave would be 'devalued' if absorbed into a greater area. Snobs! Frankly, why anyone would pay up to 2.3 million to have a view of a fake fountain and a light industrial estate is beyond me. You can click on this to see just about where our five acre street lies in comparison. You can see what I mean about the encroachment of suburbia.


I wonder what John and Elizabeth Macarthur would make of all this?

12 comments:

Bimbimbie said...

Hello Baino ... I lost my connection with you for your Sat post and now I've just read your Sunday Nostalgia. What a wonderful piece of Aussie history to have right on your back door step ... have you thought about joining in with the friends of Bella Vista Park? I'm thinking about what you said in your previous post now ... I love iron roofs ... and cracked up when I saw that sign about falling pine cones ... people are sooooo precious these days lol *!*

Thriftcriminal said...

Nice. Makes me sad when that sort of thing gets swallowed by suburbia though. What's the story though? It's winter with you and you have better weather than we do in August. We had torrential rain yesterday and flooding in quite a few spots (not us, we're on the side of a hill, so no floods). Dammit, I'm emailing my friend and looking for a job down under, that's the end of it. Added advantage: I'd have the entire globe between me and my mother (smooth)

Jay said...

I loved this one - beautiful photos and some Aussie history! I particularly love the picture of the building with the wire fencing curving away, and the second tin sheds shot. Absolutely gorgeous!

Henry doesn't sound too bad, either. I guess you could always hang around in case his kelpie x offends the floofy one and he and his wife get divorced? LOL!

Interesting about the orange trees too. I hope they're going to preserve those as well as the homestead?

Grannymar said...

Great story and photos.

When the place is preserved will the public be allowed in to enjoy it? Here we have many houses and estates preserved and the entrance fees are high, opening hours short and half the valuable and interesting pieces kept in storage unseen by the very people paying to keep the places going!

Ces said...

What gets me is when they cut down the grand old hardwood trees and replace them with fast growing short-lived decorative trees. Again, my obsession with trees. Probably had something to do with the fact that my parents designed the construction of my chidlhood home by planning where the trees and garden should be planted and started before the first post was erected. The first thing my parents did when we moved to the suburb was to plant a tree. Here in these parts of the southern US, we have develeopments everywhere. Housing is very affordable and a McMansion could be had for as low as $250,000.00 bad credit regardless. No wonder people with big eyes and small wallets grabbed them and now working taxpayers like us have to bail them out, but that's another story.

steph said...

If I were you, Baino...

I'd bring a picnic rug ..just in case Henry happens to pass by :-)

But look out for the falling cones!

Megan said...

Great job with the photos! My only regret is there is no closeup of the deadly pine cones...

laughingwolf said...

thx for the virtual tour, baino...

yes, i see your bird in the tree, neat!

falling cones? gods forbid! :P lol

and ces, i agree... :(

Baino said...

I have actually but I really need to spend some more time on my own dilapitated abode in the immediate future. There's plenty of rusty roof around there that's for sure.

Thrifty, winter is normally dry and sunny, our rains come in January and February although we had a very wet Autumn this year. I've read about the floods!I have to say when everything else is getting you down, you can generally count on the sun to shine!

Thanks Jay. There's actually about 25 acres surrounding the property that's all owned by council. The fence surrounds the buildings to keep the vandals out. Yeh, I liked those two shots as well, you never know what's going to work . . .my bee's not as cool as your wasp!

Grannymar, it's a public building so they have open days there now and then. Theres little inside the house itself, just a restored shell but there is talk of making it into something more permanent and open to the public. Naturally, we have few 'stately' homes due to the young age of the colony.

Ces it was probably the Macarthur's who cut down most of the trees to make way for grazing although you can see from the suburban shot that there are plenty of massive gums in the valley where I live.
The fig trees are easily 200 years old and will be preserved.

As for your 'affordable' housing, I'm well aware . . .even we haven't escaped the effects of US subprime lending blow out.

Steph, you're full of sneaky ideas girl! And in that case it would be falling figs! (sticky they are too)

Megan, I think it must be the wrong time of year, I couldn't see any truth be told! I hardly think the sign was necessary but they're pretty big cones!

No worries Wuffa it was too nice not to do anything yesterday and the doggy loves a run! The kookaburra was being hassled by smaller birds and didn't make a peep . . normally they laugh to announce the arrival of rain!

Ces said...

I forgot to mention how I felt when I first saw a Moreton Bay fig tree at Henry Ford's house in Fort Myers, Florida. It was in the eighties and the trees were absolutely beautiful. I remember sitting down and had my photograph taken with the roots. I love love ancient trees and Australia seem to have a lot of fine specimen.

Baino said...

Ces, it's an Australian native but well planted in the US and pretty plentiful here, especially as you head north. We also have a Jurassic Pine, the Wollomi pine . . discovered in 2005 and possibly the oldest species remaining today. A hiker ran into a small copse of them in the Blue Mountains and their location has been kept secret Now there are saplings available propagated by the Royal Botanic Gardens . . sadly no more dinosaurs to munch on them. But as in most wooded countries, hardwoods and old growth are being logged and replaced by softer faster growing cousins.

Ces said...

Yes, our live oaks are being replaced by Arizona ash which we call Arizona trash. The smarter communities preserve their hardwood trees but our dumb city has so far uprooted 127 live oaks planted at the turn of the century along the main streets in the city for commercial development and street widening. Fortunately, someone thought it would be good to start planting oak, maple, sycamore and other pine trees in the street median so we actually have more trees now than before but they are juveniles. I would like to see the boababs of Madagascar before I die.