24 March, 2016

Branching out: 'Darriwill'

Before I look at the third route from Geelong to the goldfields of Ballarat and beyond, I think it might be helpful to look at a little of the history of some of the properties through which the track passed. This route ran via Steiglitz, but for the first few miles of their journey, those following it would have used the same road up Bell Post Hill, towards Batesford used by those following the Geelong to Buninyong Track.
Before descending into the Moorabool Valley however, they took the turn off for Steiglitz, which led them over Sutherland's Creek and onto the high ground between the creek to their east and the Moorabool Valley further to the west.
In the earliest days of European settlement the land either side of the Moorabool river below Sutherland's Creek down to Fyansford was occupied by the Manifold brothers. Above the confluence of Sutherland's Creek with the Moorabool, the land was occupied by Joseph Sutherland. According to fellow squatter Thomas Manifold, Sutherland took up the land in 1836. Joseph was a Scotsman and amongst the earliest settlers in the Port Phillip District. The only other information I have been able to discover, indicates that he was on his Sutherland's Creek Run at least during 1842-1843, but soon moved on to more distant pastures.
By 1846 three brothers - Robert Culbertson, George and James Hope - who had travelled overland from New South Wales began to lease and purchase large tracts of what had been the Sutherland's Creek Run of Joseph Sutherland and some of the land occupied by the Manifolds. In June, 1846 George purchased 734 acres of land along the Moorabool River at Batesford and according to deeds dated November 1847, Robert purchased almost 2,000 acres of land to the north along either side of Sutherland's Creek. Further, in September, 1848, James and George were granted a licence to depasture stock in the same area on the Moorabool.
The Moorabool River at Baker's Bridge in 2011. The river at this point formed
part of the boundary of 'Darriwill'
In April, 1849 Robert was granted the lease of around 2,000 acres under pre-emptive right in the parishes of Darriwill and Yowang and by 1850 his application to lease land had increased to include 8,720 acres in the parish of Yowang - presumably in addition to his freehold land. As well as his pastoral pursuits, Robert was a practising medical doctor and on 21st January, 1848, he was appointed coroner for the District of Geelong. In November, 1856 he was returned as one of five members representing the South Western Province in the Legislative Council of Victoria, holding office until August, 1864. In April, 1867 he was again elected to the same seat, holding office until 1874. During his time in parliament he was known for his very conservative views. A staunch advocate for the rights of the landed classes, he fought fervently against any move to limit their privileges or to allow selectors the right to choose land already leased from the crown by the squatters.
By contrast, brother George appears to have concentrated more on establishing the family property. Survey maps show that in 1854 he purchased more land adjoining those blocks bought by Robert in 1847, bringing the total freehold owned by the Hopes to over 4,000 acres along the east bank of Sutherland's Creek between today's Robbs Rd to the north and Lovely Banks Rd to the south.
Having purchased substantial acreage, the Hopes no doubt felt secure enough to begin building and making permanent improvements to their property which they called 'Darriwill'. In 1856, they built a single-storey, bluestone house to the design of John Young, with later additions - including a cellar - designed by prominent Geelong architect J.L. Shaw (The Stepping Stone: a History of the Shire of Bannockburn, D Beaurepaire, 1995).
'Darriwill', image taken from the Victorian Heritage Database
According to the Victorian Heritage Database, this was the residence of George who established a substantial vineyard on the property in addition to running sheep. Hope's winery was described in a glowing article written by The Age on 7th March, 1864, which also made the surprising observation that the property, in outline, had the appearance of a bat.
1878 survey map of Yowang and Darriwil Parishes overlaid on Google Earth,
with an outline showing the land purchased by the Hopes
By October, 1878 under George's guidance, 'Darriwill' had grown to 4,768 acres. He lived at the property for the remainder of his life, dying on 25th April, 1884 at the age of 69. The property remained in the family, administered as per the terms of George's will by a trust administered by his wife Marianne and eldest son James. Over subsequent years, the names of his sons George Rowland and William Waugh Hope also appeared in connection with the property.
In 1909 however, the majority of the property (3335 acres) was subdivided into 26 lots of varying sizes which were then auctioned off, leaving only around 700 acres of the original land along with the homestead, in the hands of the family. The remaining land and assets continued to be run by a family trust up to and following the death of James (1903) and Marianne (1911). Isabella, the unmarried daughter of George and Marianne, lived at 'Darriwill' until her death in 1939 after which, the property was distributed according to the terms of her will amongst the family. In 1941 however, the original homestead and 700 acres were bought at auction by her nephews - George Rowland's sons - thus retaining the property in the family.
Photos of Marianne and George Hope along with their daughter Isabella. Image
held by the State Library of Victoria
Also in their hands was the neighbouring property 'Darriwill North'. How or exactly when the family took possession of the property, which formed part of the original land purchased by Dr R.C. Hope in 1847, I have not discovered. It was here however, following the death of her husband George Rowland Hope in 1920, that his widow Agnes was responsible for the construction of a second home in 1925. This house, designed by Geelong architects Laird and Buchan, was a single storey, brick building in the Californian Bungalow style commonly constructed between the two World wars. Further extensions were added two years later in 1927. Agnes, lived at the property until her death in 1955.
Photo of 'Darriwill North' taken in 2008 (Stan Lawrence Real Estate Pty Ltd)
'Darriwill North' remained in the Hope family until 2008 when Alistair Hope (great grandson of the original settler) and his wife Ellen, finally sold the property, thus ending nearly 170 years of occupation and ownership by the Hope family at Darriwill. The house remained on around 268 acres of a total 1650 acres sold and in 2011 Darriwill North Holdings Pty Ltd was listed as a private company. 'Darriwill North' is now a registered stud, breeding both Dorper sheep and Kelpie dogs.
By contrast, 'Darriwill', including the original homestead, was only retained by the family until 1971 when, following the death of Rowland Hope on 9th November the previous year, it was sold to Sanford and Jane Nevile who retained the property until 1994.
Looking north along Sutherland's Creek from Hope's Bridge on the Steiglitz Rd.
The land to the right belongs to 'Darriwill North'
 At this time, the property, including 840 acres, was purchased by Dougal and Nellie Ramsay who extensively replanted the garden surrounding the house. The Ramsays also went on to establish the Darriwill Farm chain of retail stores and cafes throughout Victoria, developing the Darriwill name into a highly sought after brand.
In March, 2012 however, 'Darriwill' was once again on the market, advertised as including both a winery and olive grove, incorporating 966 acres of land. It was hoped that the property would fetch in excess of $10 million, however its eventual sale price fell short of this mark.

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