17 January, 2008

Old Gowrie, Kingsthorpe near Toowomba

Above - Image of Old Gowrie Homestead taken in 2005
Above - image of Old Gowrie taken in 1979.

Old Gowrie Homestead at Kingsthorpe, near Toowoomba is my [paternal] Grandmother, Sarah's, birth [1920] & childhood home. I grew up with wonderful stories of my Grandmother's childhood and a painted image of this beautiful old homestead by the Hertiage House Trust of Queensland framed in her home and copies throughout our own homes now. Old Gowrie Homestead was built ca. 1875 on a property near Toowoomba in the Darling Downs.

The Historic Homestead is up for sale... in February 2007
A STATELY country homestead built by a King and his army of 20 men has been restored to the grandeur it enjoyed 135 years ago and is on the market.With history dripping from the walls and ceilings in paintings, maps, lighting and memorabilia, the Darling Downs' Old Gowrie homestead and boutique winery sits on 71ha -- and two freehold titles -- just west of Toowoomba at Kingsthorpe. Owners Ron and Marie Newbury are reluctantly selling the multi-million-dollar property.
Built by wealthy timber merchant George King and completed in 1873, the 1320sq m homestead stayed in his family until his second son, a soldier, left in 1919. Ron and Maree, former cotton growers from western NSW, bought Gowrie eight years ago and embarked on restorations to the 12 original rooms and the tasteful extensions made by a former owner 25 years ago. Ron is a walking history book on the property and its surrounds. Four magnificent chandeliers, bought from the Brisbane estate of Sir Leon and Lady Trout, grace the 3.5m-wide hallways, the billiard room and the formal living room. "They couldn't have found a more suitable home," Ron says proudly.
Old Gowrie homestead has provided bed-and-breakfast accommodation in its time, with visitors staying in the original part of the home in four of its five spacious bedrooms. One of the two visitors' bathrooms had been the colonial kitchen.The main bedroom has an ensuite, which is also a rarity for its era, with a clawfoot bath and old wash stand, complemented by a modern shower, toilet and tiled walls. There is also a dressing room with tall cedar wardrobes installed.
The formal living room, with its elegant leather and brocade-covered furnishings, has excellent acoustics and recently hosted a chamber music afternoon in which Toowoomba musicians performed for an audience of 50 seated guests.Eight fireplaces, built of Italian marble, warm the rooms. A refreshing easterly breeze cools the lengthy hallway for more than 80 per cent of the time, an indication that even in the 1870s architects were considering sustainability. Exceptionally high ceilings mean no airconditioning is required.Ron said that when he and Marie bought Old Gowrie most of the door handles were either broken or missing. So they went on a mission to find replacements. And the skirting boards, some 40cm high, were suffering from what looked like blow-torch burns.
Most of the timber door frames were a heavy, deep green until his painters refreshed them with a rich cream gloss. He also found parchments documenting more of the King family and military history, discarded behind a bathroom door.Everyday entry to the homestead is through a cheerful brick courtyard coloured by brilliant bougainvillea, with decorative figs in big terracotta pots and shaded by an old jacaranda.
The "gallery" is the first room on entry – part of extensions made in 1982 of complementary Tasmanian oak. "It was too good to leave as an entry room so we turned it into a dining room and we've had 45 people in here at long tables for lunch," Ron said. "The house did have historic listing but it was de-listed because they said this extension didn't exactly comply with the criteria." There is nothing jarring about the area, which leads to a timber kitchen with an island work bench and a TV and family dining room. The cork-tiled floor and feature-tile splashbacks blend in warmly.
Ron has an office and there is a cellar where the womenfolk once took refuge in fear of passing Aborigines, below one of the guest rooms.Most of the rooms lead through French windows to the wide timber verandas decorated with iron lace balustrades that wrap around the house. A tradesman Ron employed once measured those verandas at 103m at the house walls.Outside is a free-standing building, once known as the Gun and Rum Room."It was where they kept their ammo and their alcohol. Now it's a playhouse for the grandchildren," Ron said.
A full-sized enclosed tennis court and swimming pool are near the homestead while a six-stable barn with feed room, round yard, outside yard and some small paddocks are ready for horses.
"We were having brochures printed for the sale of the property and we had an extra 500 printed to go to the Magic Millions a few weeks ago," Ron said. "All the brochures were snapped up in two days and we've had several inquiries, including some from horse breeders in Korea."
As well as restoring the homestead, Ron planted 14ha of grapes. Gowrie Mountain Estate wines have enjoyed success, picking up 78 medals across Australia in eight years. The labels feature a delicate illustration of the homestead. Ron sends his produce away to winemakers who undertake the fermentation process, then send the wine back in oak barrels to be stored for 14 months before the contents are bottled in a boutique 1000sq m airconditioned cellar that is partly underground.
There are cellar door sales and the huge room is available for functions, already approved by local government.Three bores – two for domestic use and one for vineyard irrigation – are on the property. Home water is stored in a 120,000-litre rainwater tank while three 112,000-litre storage tanks stand at the vineyard.Many of the furnishings will be available by negotiation when Ron and Marie move into a smaller house. "We'll move into Toowoomba," Ron said. "We've never lived in a suburb before."
His extensive research revealed that the homestead was built in an unusual manner for its period in the late 19th century. "The walls are poured concrete a foot thick (30cm) and the foundations go 12 foot (3.7m) into the ground," he said. "The ceilings are white beech timber and the floors are bunya or hoop pine. The other timber is imported English ash and walnut. "It took the 20 men seven years to complete."
The timber ceilings are remarkable for the craftsmanship evident in their diamond-shape inlays, nearly 5m from the polished floors, which are adorned with Persian carpets.

The Homestead - along with redeveloped Winery & Boutique B&B accomodation, went to Auction in March of 2007.

A HISTORIC Darling Downs estate, once described as a "faultless and flower-carpeted ranch" and now a boutique winery, is to be sold at auction in March.The 71ha Old Gowrie Homestead and Gowrie Mountain Estate Winery at Kingsthorpe, on the western fringe of Toowoomba, is on what was a much bigger cattle and sheep station that dated back to 1841.
Former cotton farmers Ron and Marie Newbury, from Moree in northwestern New South Wales, bought Old Gowrie several years ago to redevelop as a winery and boutique bed-and-breakfast accommodation.
During their tenure, the showpiece homestead, built in 1872 from poured cement covered with render and then painted to resemble stone, had a wing added that blended in with the colonial architecture.
The five-bedroom 1320sq m homestead has Italian marble fireplaces, imported timbers of English ash and walnut, 4.9m ceilings, formal dining and lounge rooms, billiards room, cellar and many ornate features.
On two freehold titles, its vineyard and winery cover 13.75ha and produce eight varieties.
Marketing agent David Snow said widespread interest in Old Gowrie included a Korean syndicate interested in its potential as a thoroughbred stud. The property's horse facilities include a six-stable barn, round-yard and paddocks.
"The auction of Old Gowrie and Gowrie Mountain Estate Winery represents a unique opportunity to purchase one of Queensland's most elegant and historic homes," Mr Snow said.
"The significant architecture, the generous proportion of all the rooms and the lifestyle opportunity it affords makes this real estate holding truly inimitable.

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