The original license for the property was taken up in 1838 by John Wallace. Wallace was born at Nairn in Scotland and as a boy, travelled to van Diemen's Land in the 1820s to live with his uncle. Like many during the late 1830s, he crossed Bass Strait from van Diemen's Land, bringing stock to graze the thousands of acres of grassland they found along the creeks and rivers of the region. Initially he camped near Anakie, but dry weather encouraged him to move north in search of some protection in the form of more heavily timbered country and he eventually settled upon a site on the east bank of the Moorabool East Branch.
|Looking north up the Moorabool Valley with 'Ballark' land to the east|
In 1843 John married Elizabeth Smith. With the exception of a few years during which he resided in Geelong at Rannoch House, the property remained the family home until John's death on 24th October, 1882 at the age of 71 suffering a bout of pneumonia. Accompanied by a substantial cortège, he was buried with Elizabeth (died 1862) in the family's private cemetery on the property, overlooking the Moorabool River.
Wallace is also remembered in his native Nairn where a bandstand was erected overlooking the coastline. A plaque at the site reads: "Erected to the memory of John Wallace a native of Nairn who died at Ballark Australia, 1882. A pioneer who became on of the most successful and respected pastoralists in the Colony of Victoria. Ballan Shire Historical Society 1991."
|Memorial to John Wallace at Nairn, Scotland. Image taken by Allan Maciver,|
23rd February, 2012
Like his father, Donald was a grazier. Educated in Melbourne, he gained experience in the industry before taking up significant pastoral holdings in Queensland. In 1878 he returned to Victoria where he made an unsuccessful attempt to enter politics at the 1880 election before returning to Queensland where he held the Seat of Cleremont in the legislative assembly of that state from 1883 until 1888. Despite this, he spent little time in the state, instead returning to Victoria where he held a seat on the legislative council from 1889 to 1894.
Despite his involvement in politics, Donald's real interest was horse racing and during the period from 1881 to 1898 he was involved as a committee member of the Victorian Racing Club. Whilst he owned several thoroughbreds and achieved success in a number of high-profile races, without doubt his most successful horse was Carbine - winner of the 1890 Melbourne Cup. A New Zealand bred stallion, from 43 races run, Carbine won 33, ran second in six races and third in a further three, failing to place only once due to injury. His Melbourne Cup win saw him carry a weight of 66kg - 24kg more than his nearest rival.
|Carbine prior to his departure for England, 1895. Image held by the|
State Library of Victoria
Despite his racing success and his vast business interests, falling wool prices and several poor seasons led to mounting debts which forced Wallace to sell off first his Queensland and then most of his Victorian interests. Donald died at 'Ballark' on 27th May, 1900. He was survived by his son John Vivian Wallace, born in 1880 in Victoria to Donald and his wife Ida Australia (nèe Thorn) who had married in Queensland in 1877. Like his parents and wife, he was buried in the little cemetery overlooking the Moorabool River.
|The Wallace family cemetery at 'Ballark', November, 2016|
The Molesworth family trace their origins to England and count amongst their descendants some members of the British Royal Family. John was the great-grandfather of the current occupant - also John - who continues to work the property, lives at the homestead to the present day and will be followed in due course by his own son - James.
|Ballark homestead November, 2016|
Today as with many of the old properties in the district, the focus has moved to rehabilitating the land which has served the family for so many generations. To this end, over 100,000 trees have been planted at 'Ballark' in the last 13 years. Another initiative is fundraising in the form of shooting parties held on the property, with the money raised going to help local sporting clubs, continuing Ballark's ongoing interest in sport and the local community.