19 May, 2015

The Murdeduke Estate

In a previous post I looked at Wormbete Station, which was established by Henry Hopkins in 1837, the lease for which he handed over to his second son John Rout Hopkins in 1851. The year before, John had taken up the lease of the nearby St Stephen's Station. At the same time that John took over Wormbete, Henry turned his sights to the nearby Mt Hesse Station. In that year, he took up the lease of the part of the run held by John Highett (after whom the Geelong suburb of Highton is named) who had been in partnership with William Harding. Harding retained the remainder of the Mt Hesse Estate. Highett's section of the Mt Hesse land was situated to the north and west of the Austin's Barwon Park run, with a narrow frontage to the river north of Barwon Park, stretching along the eastern shore of Lake Murdeduke which will be the topic of my next post.
Looking north west across Lake Murdeduke
After the 1851 carve up of the Mt Hesse Estate, I suspect that John Hopkins used the newly acquired land in addition to his other properties, to establish his Merino breeding interests. Meanwhile, in 1853 with the lease still in his name, Henry took up the pre-emptive right to 640 acres of this portion of the Mt Hesse Estate, at the time still known as Mt Hesse or in some cases Hesse Mount. In 1855 however, the lease (along with the freehold land) had once again been transferred, this time to Henry's third son, Arthur.
At some point, the property was renamed Murdeduke (a Wathaurong name as was Wormbete), perhaps to distinguish it more clearly from the remaining portion of the run which retained the Mt Hesse name. Murdeduke Station adjoined the north west boundary of St Stephen's whilst Wormbete Estate bounded St Stephen's to the south, so that the smaller St Stephen's provided a link between the larger Wormbete Estate and Arthur's Murdeduke Station.
In February 1854 Arthur married Lucy Rout at Murdeduke. One John Wingate Rout was also married on the property at the same time. Presumably both were maternal relatives of the Hopkins' via their mother. Like his brother John, Arthur served on the Winchelsea Shire Council and he and Lucy raised their family of three daughters at Murdeduke.
Looking east from the rise beside the lake, across Murdeduke land to the
Barwon River and the Austin's Barwon Park
In 1870, the license to the run was forfeited, however as was usual, Arthur Hopkins was able to buy - presumably through deals and family connections - a significant proportion of the original 22,214 acres they had previously leased.
Unlike Wormbete, Murdeduke Station has not retained the original homestead. Whilst it is thought that the driveway may date back to as early as 1854, the original house built in the 1840s era of Harding and Highett was replaced in 1875 by Arthur Hopkins with a 20 room, Gothic style bluestone structure designed by noted Melbourne architects Terry and Oakden. Stone for the house was quarried on the property.
Murdeduke homestead, 1970. Image retrieved from the Victorian Heritage Database
Arthur died in March, 1882 after an extended illness at the age of 51 and is buried in the Winchelsea Cemetery. Murdeduke however, did not remain long in the hands of the Hopkins family. Following the death of Arthur in 1882, his youngest daughter Sarah, married William J Austin, the second son of the late Thomas Austin of neighboring Barwon Park who took up a lease of several years on the property. Upon expiry of the lease in August, 1886 the estate comprising 13,568 acres was purchased at auction by Peter McIntyre of Mawallock, a Scotsman who had migrated some 34 years earlier. Peter ran the property with his wife Margaret and sons until his death in 1908, followed by that of his wife in 1918.
Peter McIntyre, 1896, Image held by the State Library of Victoria
During his time on the estate, McIntyre not only contributed greatly to the development of sheep breeding in the region, but also expanded his land holdings. In 1900 he purchased the neighbouring Mountside Estate (previously also part of the original Mt Hesse run) from Walter Tully for his eldest son Charles Duncan McIntyre.
The McIntyre family remained at Murdeduke for several more decades despite the sell off of over 2,000 acres of Murdeduke land in 1910 following Peter's death. Finally, in 1938 the estate was again reduced substantially, this time to a size of 4,500 acres which was sold to James P.W. Wilson. Today, Murdeduke remains in the hands of the Wilson family who run a successful mixed farming enterprise with interests in sheep, cattle, pigs and various crops.


  1. Enjoying your informative posts
    Peter Muller

  2. Very informative however the ROUT-MARSHALL & HOPKINS-ROUT Marriages were celebrated in Hobart, see below
    The Courier (Hobart); Thursday 2 February 1854, p2
    This morning, by the Rev. George Clarke, at the residence of the bride's father, Bathurst-street, ARTHUR HOPKINS, Esq., of Hesse Mount, Barwon, Geelong, youngest son of H. Hopkins, Esq., to Lucy, only daughter of William Rout, Esq.
    Also, at the same time and place, by the Rev. George Clarke, JOHN WINGATE ROUT, Esq., of Fulham, East Bay, to MARY, eldest daughter of George Marshall, Esq., of Noble Farm, Pittwater.