11 May, 2015

One thing leads to another: Mt Hesse Estate

In my previous post, I looked at Wormbete Station, and by extension, I uncovered quite a bit of information about another estate also owned by the Hopkins family - Murdeduke, however it is not really possible to look at the Murdeduke Estate without first considering the Mt Hesse Station which was originally established by squatting partners William Harding and John Highett (after whom the Geelong suburb of Highton is named) in 1837 and which incorporated the Murdeduke land. The original extent of the Mt Hesse Station taken up by Harding and Highett was some 45,700 acres which extended from the Barwon River above the Barwon Park holdings of the Austin family, west across the plains to Lake Weering and south of Lake Murdeduke.
Upon moving onto the property with his sister Elizabeth, Harding erected a small house in 1840. It was originally constructed as a two-roomed stone cottage and later, a stone skillion and a weatherboard section were added. William lived there with Elizabeth prior to her 1845 marriage to neighbouring squatter Thomas Austin of Barwon Park.

Original homestead 1975, J.T. Collins Collection,La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.
Various other outbuildings were also erected over the years including stables and a 20 stand shearing shed which was erected by Harding in 1852.
The Mt Hesse Woolshed, image from onmydoorstep.com.au
In 1851 however, the original Mt Hesse Estate was divided in two with (I have read) Highett's part of the property passing to the Hopkins family at that time. Harding unfortunately had overstretched his finances and was forced to give up the lease so in 1853, the main part of the estate was taken up by local merchants William Timms (Snr) and John Wilson. Timms was at the time Geelong's largest wool exporter. Three years later in 1856, he bought out his partner, becoming the sole landholder. It was also around this time that the main Mt Hesse homestead was built for Timms to the design of architects Backhouse and Reynolds. This was later extended in 1873 for William Timms (Jnr) by Davidson and Henderson. At the same time, a gatehouse known as The Lodge was built near what was at the time, the main entrance to the property.
Timms however did not live long enough to enjoy his prosperity, dying in 1858, leaving his estate to be run by trustees until his sons were of an age to take over. During this time, there was a push by the government to break up the big squatting runs to allow smaller selectors on to the land. I described this process in my Woodbourne Creek post, but like that station, the Timms were faced with the division of "their" land. Like many others, they took up the pre-emptive right to which they were entitled then through a string of deals with family and friends were also able to purchase the majority of the land they had occupied and so keep the estate intact.
Mt Hesse homestead prior to 1941, image taken from the Victorian Heritage Database
In the end, the Mt Hesse Estate remained in the Timms family for only a few decades with the remainder of the original land divided into three properties (Mountside, Eurack and the homestead section - still known as Mt Hesse) which were run by William Timms Senior's three sons - John, William (Jnr) and Robert.
However, by 1882 the Timms brothers had also run into financial difficulties and, the whole of the estate was put on the market. William Jnr's Mt Hesse section of the estate comprising 15,707 acres was sold to James Kinninmonth and remained in the Kinninmonth family until 2002. By this time, the property was reduced to 8,772 acres as much of the remaining Mt Hesse land had been reclaimed by the Soldier Settlement Commission in 1956 for resale as soldier settlement blocks. In 2002 then, the property was sold to the German based  Südwolle Group who are the current owners. David Kinninmonth remained as manager after the sale.
In 1941, the Mt Hesse homestead was severely damaged by fire, however it was rebuilt in 1947 in part from original materials.
The above sketch map taken from the Victorian Heritage Database shows the
buildings on the Mt Hesse Estate. B1 = house built by Harding, B2 = stables,
B4 = woolshed , B5 = main homestead
Of the remaining portions of the estate, John Timms held the Mountside section and Robert held Eurack. In 1876 a bluestone homestead was built on Mountside for John in a style described as Victorian Picturesque Gothic and consisting of 15 main rooms. It was designed by the western district architect Alexander Hamilton. The 1882 sale however saw Mountside pass into the hands of Walter Tully who ran the estate until 1900. At this point, Mountside was sold to Peter McIntyre, owner of Murdeduke thus (for a time at least) bringing two parts of the original estate back together. McIntyre purchased the estate for his son Charles Duncan McIntyre who married Margaret (Maggie) Fairbairn Armytage that same year. The couple raised two sons and two daughters. Charles died in 1932 and Maggie some decades later in 1964 but the family retained ownership of the property until 1971. At this time the estate was advertised for sale by auction by the executors of the late Charles Duncan McIntyre in three sections comprising a total of 7,501 acres.
Some years later - see comment below - Mountside was again placed on the market. In 1984 it passed back to the McIntyre family when Peter - son of Hector and grandson of Charles - purchased the homestead and the adjoining 2,500 acres of land. Today, Peter continues to run the property along with his son Alistair and Alistair's family including his son who will also one day work the property as his ancestors have done.
Mountside homestead 1970, .T. Collins Collection,La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.
Meanwhile, a third homestead was built on the Eurack part of the estate for youngest son Robert. Like the other houses, it was a bluestone structure and the grounds also included the expected outbuildings and garden.
Then, in 1882 when Mt Hesse and Mountside were sold, so too was the 8,231 acre Eurack Estate which was purchased by A M Edward. His tenure however was short-lived as the property was next purchased by Robert Chirnside during the 1880s. He in turn on-sold the property. Having left for a stint in England and Europe by late 1886, he put the property up for auction with the intention of subdividing the estate into smaller farms which would then be sold individually. The following year, the estate of roughly 6,000 acres was offered for sale in lots varying from 30 to 1095 acres in size. The largest portion including the bluestone homestead, manager's house, woolshed, stables and a substantial garden was to be sold with 1905 acres of the land.
Eurack homestead, image held by the Department of the Environment
However, it would seem that his plans did not go ahead, as the government stepped in during 1901, purchasing Eurack whole in order to provide land for smaller farmers as part of a closer settlement policy which would eventually develop into the Soldier Settlement Commission following the Second World War.
Over the years, Eurack House has passed through various hands and today is owned by the Ingram family.


  1. Hi Jo,
    Mountside is again farmed by the original McIntyre family. After the property was sold in 1971, it was sold again sometime later in the 70's. In 1984 Peter Charles McIntyre, the Grandson of Charles and son of his eldest son, Hector, purchased the homestead and surrounding 2500 acres. He farms and lives there still with his son Alistair. Alistair and I live in the homestead with our children, the eldest of whom will eventually return from his jackarooing adventures and farm Mountside.


    Lu Bongiorno

    1. Thanks Lu for the extra details. I will update the post accordingly. Sometimes the most recent details are the hardest to find!

  2. hi hope this blog is still active. my forbear james warren, convict, worked at mt hesse and died there in 1859. trying to find grave site. the COD had reference to church of england. Amy ideas?

    1. Yes, this blog is very much still active. I haven't come across the name of your ancestor. At that time there weren't too many cemeteries around and since your ancestor doesn't appear in any of the cemeteries which come under the banner of the Geelong Cemeteries Trust, I would be inclined to think he may have been a "lone burial", possibly even on the property.
      I did find one lone burial on the Mt Hesse Estate from 1863, so I guess it is possible your James is buried there too, although whether it was recorded or not is another matter. I can't see any mention of a death on TROVE
      I assume the death certificate didn't help?
      Not sure what else to suggest.

    2. Jo

      Thanks for reply. COD had him as a servant at Mt Hesse, name of informant unclear, Rev Tanner lsited and Meyler person who is buried there. Did u have a location for this lone burial? Cheers

    3. Hi again!
      The 1863 lone burial of John Roberts was taken from the index at this address:
      and the index gives its source as the Victorian Pioneer Index, so no, I don't know where the burial is, however it might be worth talking to some of the local genealogy groups or perhaps even the current property owners might know where the burial was.