The following short stories about the history of Hidden Valley have been put together by Grahame Thom.
Land development north of Melbourne in the 1800s.
During the early years after Port Phillip was established in 1835 as part of the Colony of NSW, runs were established by squatters in the rural areas to the north of Melbourne. Then came rules and regulations regarding the occupation of land, which generally meant people either leased or purchased land from the colonial government based in Sydney. The Colony of Victoria was established in 1851.
Victoria is divided up into counties and within Counties into civil Parishes. Going just north of Hidden Valley is the boundary of the County of Bourke to the south and the County of Dalhousie to the north. On the northern side of Hidden Valley is the Parish of Bylands and on the southern side the Parish of Wallan Wallan.
The development of the area around Wallan and what was to become Hidden Valley is summarised in the following extracts from the book Pretty Sally’s Hill – A history of Wallan, Wandong and Bylands, by J W Payne, published in 1981.
Settlement – page 7
By 1841 land from Melbourne to Bylands had either been surveyed and sold, or allocated as runs.
James Malcolm, credited with being ‘the richest man in the colony’, first took a holding called the Yuroke, Deep Creek, Merriang run in 1836. By its title it must have occupied the eastern side of the Deep Creek valley opposite Brodies’ Konagaderra. In 1838 he extended northwards to the Big Hill (now known as Pretty Sally’s Hill) taking up the land there east of the Sydney Road. He relinquished this run in 1844 and for the next four years Robert Rand was the leasee. Malcolm took over the lease again from 1848 to 1854 and it then passed to Hugh Miller Guthrie. The latter converted portion of the run to a pre-emptive right known as Rand’s Run, on 31 October 1856.
Hugh Miller Guthrie – page 114
Born in Ayr in Scotland on 12 January 1825, he assisted in the construction of the Glasgow and South-West Railway. Ill-health led him to join his brother John in Tasmania in 1842 where he was introduced to pastoral life. His first venture was at Portland Bay, but he moved to Sydney in 1848 and took a run on the Upper Hunter River.
Drought forced him to give up the station and return to a position in Her Majesty’s Customs at Melbourne in 1849. By 1873 he had risen to be Collector of Customs but in the wholesale dismissals of Black Wednesday, he lost his position and retired to Wallan.
On 24 December 1851, he purchased Portion 81E of 309 acres in the Parish of Bylands and three years later, in May 1854, took over from Robert Rand the lease of land adjoining his to the south. He converted 640 acres of his newly leased land to a pre-emptive right on 31 October 1856, giving it the title ‘Rand’s Run’. Earlier in the same year, on 24 March, he purchased Portion 101 in the Parish of Bylands, west of his 1851 purchase. The combined 1185 acres he named ‘Weena’ and added to it 161 acres from J Rennie, giving him a southerly access.
His last purchase was 263 acres in small lots from the 1873 subdivision of ‘The Dene’ Station, east of ‘Weena’. Guthrie’s descendants carried on the property for some years and later sold to E B Cozens. Subsequent owners were Reid; Thompson, who built the present homestead in 1915 (the third homestead to be built on the property) Clive Nankivell; and Campbell. The present owner, Richard Colvin, acquired the property in 1938, renaming it ‘Mittagong’ (a).
Guthrie died while on a voyage to England in 1888. On 22 September 1888 the Kilmore Advertiser referred to him as ‘an upright straight forward man who employed a great amount of labour and contributed to every good object.’
St Mark’s, Wallan East, page 108
In 1881 Hugh Miller Guthrie gifted half an acre of his land, half a mile north of the Wallan railway station to the Church of England as a church site. In 1896 his widow extended the gift to an acre to accommodate the church and a vicarage for a minister in charge of the new (church) parish of Wallan. The parish embraced St George’s at Wallan, St Mark’s, as the newly erected church was called, St John’s at Lightwood Flat and later at Wandong, All Saints;, Merriang, and St Barnabas’ at Donnybrook (b).
Note a. The homestead called ‘Mittagong’ was located on the south side of Hidden Valley Boulevard, where in 2021 the playground is located opposite the Golf and Country Club. The entrance to ‘Mittagong’ was from William Street, directly south of the homestead partly along the south west boundary of Hidden Valley.
Note b. St Mark’s was located on the northern side of William Street, and was burnt down in 1960 and not replaced. The land is just to the east of the Hume Freeway.
Hugh Miller Guthrie
The following obituary for Hugh Miller Guthrie appeared on page 2 of the Kilmore Advertiser on 22 September 1888.
Death of Mr H M Guthrie
Intelligence was received on Monday last of the death of Mr H M Guthrie on Weena, Wallan, which occurred on board the R M S Rosetta on the 5th inst, shortly after the steamer left Colombo (Sri Lanka). Mr Guthrie had not been in good health for some time past, and in March of the present year left on a trip to his native country. The change appeared to do him some good for a time, and he left on his return journey about two months ago, but was compelled to leave the steamer at Colombo, in a very weak state. Mrs Guthrie was called for and she left Melbourne with possible haste, and arrived at Colombo about a month ago. It is expected that full particulars of the late Mr Guthrie’s illness and death will arrive by the mail this morning. The deceased gentleman, a few particulars of whose life we append, was a member of the Merriang Shire Council at the time of his death, and was respected by all classes in the district.
Mr Guthrie was born in Ayr, Scotland, on 12th January 1825, and was brought up and educated in that town. As a lad he entered the service of the Glasgow and S W Railway, but his health not being good it was determined he should come out to Tasmania, where his brother, the late Mr John Guthrie, had been some little time previously, he arrived in Tasmania in September 1842 and after spending some little time there came over to Portland Bay. In 1845 he went to Sydney and from there took up a run on the Upper Hunter intending to devote himself to pastoral pursuits, but in 1848 a terrible drought came on and with it a loss of nearly all the stock. Then urged by his brother who had come to Melbourne he gave up the bush and applied for and obtained a position in H M Customs in 1849, which was then an imperial appointment. He was for many years senior landing surveyor.
In 1873 he was appointed Collector of Customs. In 1876 came the celebrated Stevenson case, in which he took such an active part on behalf of the Crown. in January 1878, came the now historical “Black Wednesday” and Mr Guthrie was one of the victims (1). Having as far back as 1853 acquired a portion of land that is now known as Weena, near Wallan, he came to reside there permanently and continued to do so till March of the present year, when he decided to take a trip to the old country and from which he has not been spared to return, having died on board RMS Rosetta on 5th September and buried at sea. He leaves a widow and 8 children, 4 sons and 4 daughters for whom much sympathy is felt.
1. Black Wednesday, is a period of political rivalry between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, a Government Gazette of Wednesday, 8 January 1878 announced the dismissal of judges, coroners, wardens, and about 100 other leading officials.
2, Hugh’s wife, Jessie, died on 18 April 1902 ay Yarroweyah in north central Victoria.
Here are two images showing parts of the Parish Maps for Wallan Wallan and Bylands. The area of present day Hidden Valley is outlined in red. The names on each lot are the names of the first owners of lots, ie, in the mid to late 1800s. The blue line is today’s Northern Highway. Some owners noted on parish maps may have leased their land from the government prior to the year noted on the map. All of Hidden Valley is in the County of Bourke.
As can be seen the main land owner in the early years of what is known today as Hidden Valley, was Hugh Miller Guthrie. The following is a list of land owners at that time from the parish maps. Also listed is the approximate number of acres held and the year obtained outright.
Along the northern boundary of Hidden Valley
M Dwyer, Lot 102, 355 acres, 1855
G Wilson Jnr, Lots 81C and 81D, 418+ acres. 1881 (part)
M Dwyer, Lot 81A, 101 acres,
H M Guthrie, Lot 81E, 309+ acres, 1857
P Larkin, Lot 79C, 79+ acres, 1877
T O’Shannassy, Lot 79F, 79+ acres, 1879 (part)
Along the eastern boundary
M Maroney, Lot 79A, 71+ acres, 1876
T O’Shannassy, Lot 81A, 72+ acres, 1873 (part)
B Fitzpatrick, Lot 81B, 76+ acres, 1878 (part)
H M Guthrie, Lot 81F, 22+ acres, 1876 (part)
H M Guthrie, Lot 82D, 19+ acres 1876 (part)
H M Guthrie, Lot 82A, 22+ acres 1876 (part)
H M Guthrie, Lot 82C, 77+ acres, 1876 (part)
Along the southern boundary
J Rennie, Lot 121, 161+ acres
H M Guthrie, Lot 119, “Rands Run”, 640 acres, 1856
Along the western boundary
H M Guthrie, Lot 101, 309+ acres, 1856
Other internal lots on the eastern side
B Fitzpatrick, Lot 79D, 77+ acres, 1876
H M Guthrie, Lot 81C, 54+ acres, 1876
H M Guthrie, Lot 81D, 35+ acres, 1876
H M Guthrie, Lot 81E, 25+ acres, 1876
Lady Jane Franklin
Lady Jane Franklin (1791-1875) was the wife of the Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin. They arrived in Hobart from England in January 1837 and returned to England in 1843. While in the colonies Lady Franklin was the first European women to travel overland from the newly settled town of Melbourne to Sydney in 1839. She kept a diary of her trip and recorded the following on 8 April 1839 about her party arriving at Mercer’s Vale, now Beveridge, and then travelling north through what is now Kilmore.
“Mr Thornloe left us here (Mercer’s Vale) – Mr Cobb went on with us. It was 14 miles hence to Green’s outstation (c) & 18 to the upper house where we were to sleep – country thin forest & a burned part not far from Thom’s was very green and bare. I was on pony. About half way to Green’s outstation (note c). Or at about 7 miles, we crossed a low part of the gentle ridge which divides the waters. Being tired by pony, I walked a little and then sat on front bench of cart driven by Snachall. Found I liked this seat better than inside.”
Depending on the route taken Hidden Valley is about 7 miles from Beveridge and if you look at the terrain between Beveridge and Kilmore there is only one “low part of the gentle ridge” and that is the eastern end of Hidden Valley Boulevard.
One could possibly speculate that Lady Franklin’s party was the first Europeans to set foot in Hidden Valley but I am of the opinion that it is reasonable to conclude that Lady Franklin was the first European woman to travel through Hidden Valley 177 years ago.
If you would like to read more about Lady Jane Franklin see the books “Governors’ Ladies – The Wives and Mistresses of Van Diemen’s Land Governors” by Alison Alexander, and “This Errant Lady – Jane Franklin’s overland journey to Port Phillip and Sydney, 1839” by Penny Russell.
Note c – the area of Green’s outstation, is known today as Greens Pinch and is just north of the Northern Highway/Broadford road intersection.
The Wallan to Bendigo Railway Line
The northern most part of Hidden Valley – the curved boundary – runs along the southern boundary of the old Wallan to Bendigo railway line. At the western end of this section was a station, first named Firewood Siding, then Leslie. It was here that a timber cutter delivered local cut timber for use in the wood burning train engines, possibly up to 1952 when the station was closed. The following is an extract from pages 124 and 125 of the local history book “Pretty Sally’s Hill – a history of Wallan, Wandong and Bylands” by J W Payne, 1981.
“The Wallan to Bendigo via Kilmore and Heathcote railway was authorised in the great land boom of the 1880s. Kilmore, ever mindful of being Victoria’s oldest inland town, was demanding rail services to the town, not to a station on the Seymour line three miles away. Additionally, rail facilities would exploit the valuable timber stands extending from Tooboorac to Murchison whence came mine props and shaft linings, bridge timbers and poles, rail sleepers, fence posts and house timbers.
The contract for the section between the main line and Kilmore was signed by G Buckley and Sons who tendered to build the 9.5 miles for 91,996 pounds. The direct distance was only a little over three miles, but in the first mile of construction from the main line there are three lengthy curves following the crest of the Dividing Range to a point southwest of commencement. The track had to climb 300 feet to 1149 feet midway between Leslie and Bylands. The grand opening took place on 1 October 1888.
The line originated at the crest of the Dividing Range where, during the initial construction of the Essendon-Seymour line, a crossing loop named Summit had been provided to allow ballast trains from Mathieson’s Quarry, 5 miles north, to cross. This loop was eliminated during line duplication. A new station, Kilmore Junction, was now provided which resulted in three Kilmore stations, Kilmore, Kilmore East on the main line and Kilmore Junction.
To reduce confusion, Kilmore Junction was renamed Heathcote Junction in 1922. The two intermediate stations to Kilmore were named Firewood Siding and Bylands. The former was initially only for goods traffic – 6000 tons in 1890 – but later trains stopped for passengers as required. Bylands had ticket facilities until 1906, after which the station was unmanned. Firewood Siding, renamed Leslie, closed in 1952.
With the replacement of firewood by electricity, gas and briquettes, the decline of the old gold mining industry and replacement of timber bridge structures with concrete or steel, timber traffic on the line slowed to a trickle and the line ran progressively at greater and greater loss from 1940. In 1925, an AEC rail motor (all who travelled in it vowed the wheels were square) replaced steam, the first separation of goods and passenger traffic. The railmotor was supplanted by a Walker diesel rail car in 1949.
Slowly the line ceased to function. Passenger services between Heathcote and Bendigo were withdrawn in 1942 and the last train to run on this section was a goods train from Wallan on 3 December 1958. Diesel power replaced steam in 1964 on the remaining section extending the line’s life until 9 November 1968. The last passenger train, the railcar from Wallan ran on Saturday 26 June 1965, returning empty to Melbourne.”
Extract from Kilmore Free Press, Wednesday, 1 April 1981, page 3
Millionaire Buys Wallan Farms
Perth-based businessman Robert Holmes a Court, has purchased approximately 2500 acres (1000- ha) of farmland at Wallan. He outlaid well over $1,000,000 for two adjoining properties.
Mr Holmes a Court plans to create a high class thoroughbred stud breeding enterprise on the land. Former champion galloper, Family Of Man, is likely to be the No 1 resident stallion.
Mr Holmes a Court has already begun upgrading work on his Wallan land. Last week heavy earthmoving equipment moved in to excavate new dams on what was formerly the “Mittagong” property belonging to Mr Dick Colvin.
“Mittagong, of around 1800 acres, was owned by Mr Colvin for many years. It is located on the eastern side of Pretty Sally Hill.
Mr Holmes a Court purchased “Mittagong” recently, then followed up by buying the smaller adjoining property belonging to Mr Jock Dawson (and formerly owned by the Poulter family).
The land purchases by Mr Holmes a Court initiated considerable interest and speculation in the Wallan area. Mr Holmes a Court has become a prominent personality in Australian business circles in recent years.
Only last week Mr Holmes a Court’s Bell Group emerged with an apparent tax-free profit of around $16.5 million in a share market raid on the pastoral company Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort Ltd.
The expansion work on the Wallan Properties is being carried out under the direction of Barry Moir, who has been employed by Mr Holmes a Court for the past six years on his Heytesbury Stud in Western Australia. Mr Moir and his wife Carol, moved to Wallan recently.
Heytesbury Stud has made a significant impact on the breeding scene. Mr Moir said the Wallan stud will be known as “Heytesbury Stud”.
Mr Holmes a Court has made a large capital investment in the Wallan land, and Mr Moir said a considerable amount of fencing, dam installation and other work will be necessary to bring the property to the standard required for “Heytesbury Stud”.
He said Mr Holmes a Court presently stands Family Of Man – well known to Victorian racegoers for his racing exploits when trained by George Hanlon – was likely to come to Wallan from WA for stud duties. George Hanlon currently trains several gallopers, including the highly promising city winner, Lawman, for Mr Holmes a Court.
Mr Moir will remain at Wallan to supervise the upgrading of Mr Holmes a Court’s land for some time, then return to Western Australia.
Eventually Mr Moir and his family may move to Wallan to manage the enterprise full-time for Mr Holmes a Court. Mr Moir said it was planned to develop “Heytesbury Stud”, Wallan, into a major thoroughbred breeding establishment. There are no plans to establish a training complex at the property, Mr Moir said.
Extract from The Age, Sunday, 8 November 1998, page 3
Houses on Tycoon’s idyllic horse range
Once a Holmes a Court passion, now getting ready for living.
A Malaysian consortium has just released the second stage of land for sale on a former Robert Holmes a Court property near Wallan, just north of Melbourne.
Hidden Valley was reported to be one of the former billionaire’s private passions. He wanted to establish the 1000-hectare property as the leading thoroughbred stud in the Southern Hemisphere.
But there was also room to develop areas for living and recreation.
Much had been done since 1990 to have the land rezoned in 1994, the Minister for Planning, Mr Rob Maclellan, approved a recreational and residential rezoning of the estate and granted a permit for 950 lots.
In March last year, Malaysia’s biggest property players, Mr Dado David Chiu and Land and General, bought Hidden Valley for $7.3 million from the Holmes a Court family.
A manager, Mr Craig Williams, said the Holmes a Courts had invested $30 million to $40 million in the property, planting 17,000 trees and building 17 waterways, including four large lakes. The entrance is along 2.5 kilometres of road lined with elm trees, and the equestrian centre has elegant buildings and agistment paddocks with 30 kilometres of white rail fencing.
Tract, the consultants, had been employed in the early 1990s to develop a concept for residential use. Because the valley had a natural amphitheatre with undulating hills and ridges, the designer, Mr Steve Callhoun, made the most of the topography. He suggested developing village clusters of smaller villa lots with large areas of common land, homestead lots of up to two hectares, and several larger estate sites.
The selling agent, Mr Mark Butler, of Butler and Co, said Mr Callhoun believed that people did not want to move to an area to be surrounded by houses.
Hidden Valley will eventually be divided into 700 villa lots, and 200 homesteads and estate lots.
The villa lots are about 12 metres wide and 40 metres deep. Homestead lots are between 1.4 and 2.5 hectares, and range in price from $80,000 to $180,000. The estate lots vary from 5 hectares to 70.4 hectares and cost between $180,000 and $780,000.
The first stage, which included Toscanna village with 28 villa lots and several homestead lots was released late last year and sold quickly. The villa lots in Toscanna ranged from $65,000 to $70,000 and in a second area, at Wild Duck on the Lake, sold for between $75,000 and $80,000.
In each village cluster, the villa lots have been placed along a main road to give the feeling of a village street and to take advantage of the views.
Each lot has a building envelope around it, and there up to 25 hectares of common ground around each village site. One of the advantages of having these small villages is the strict design guidelines, which promote a particular aesthetic among the new villas being built.
Tract has developed a series of models for buyers to use to develop their plans, but all villas must have cove tiled roofs and rendered exteriors. All plans must be approved by a design and review panel.
Mr Williams said Hidden Valley would be developed in 10 stages, with a new stage released at the end of each year.
The second village, Sienna, consists of two areas – Sienna Way and Sienna Ridge, each consisting of 45 villa lots, with a total of 20 hectares on common land. Prices range from $70,000 to $115,000 with settlement in mid-2000. Mr Butler said settlement for the first stage would be early next year.
Extract from The Age, Saturday, 25 September 1999, page 20
New Developments – Country lifestyle in Wallan’s back yard.
A green valley, about 40 minutes from Melbourne by car, is being developed for those who like green spaces, golf and horses.
Lifestyle is a major pull for those interested in buying land at Hidden Valley, the former equestrian property of the late Robert Holmes a Court, then called Heytesbury Estate.
A golf course, walking and horse-riding trails and lakes will be some of the features of Hidden Valley, at Wallan, north of Melbourne.
The 1000 hectare property is about a 40 minute drive from Melbourne’s central business district.
The property was bought by two Malaysian interests in 1997 – Land and General Berhad and Dato David Chiu, both significant property developers in Asia – and the Hidden Valley development began the same year.
So far, there are only about six houses under construction, but 360 blocks have been sold, from villa blocks to broad acres.
There will be about 950 lots when the development is finished, with a community of about 3000 people. The development is a five to seven year project.
Buyers have included families seeking a lifestyle change, people looking for a weekender and rural buyers wanting acres of land.
Work on the golf course and the Hidden Valley Golf and Country Club has began, and the course and clubhouse are due to be finished around the end of March, weather permitting.
There is a range of lot sizes and prices available. Villa lots are priced from $59,000 but there are also larger golf course frontage lots (from $118,000) and one hectare homestead blocks (from $88,000).
There are design guidelines for what can be built, covering aspects including roof tiling and rendering.
The country club will include a swimming pool, two tennis courts and a restaurant.
Many of the landowners have bought a range of golfing and club membership packages. Residents will need to be members of the country club in order to use its facilities.
The equestrian complex will not be part of the club and will be run on a user-pays basis.
The equestrian centre will be managed by Maree Tomkinson, twice winner of the coveted Garryowen Trophy. The stables at Hidden Valley are first-class.
Possibilities for future developments at the estate include a second golf course and a hotel, but these are not confirmed and will depend on market demand. At this stage. only two small sections of the property will be subject to body corporate fees (which are now between $80 and $100 a quarter for maintenance of common areas) as well as normal council and other rates.
Nearby Hidden Valley are school shops, medical services and transport. Mal Wilson, the estate’s manager for five years, has lived on the site for four years.
He said attractions to living at Hidden Valley included the lifestyle it offered, the open space, the views, the lakes, tress and wildlife.
The name Hidden Valley began as a working title for the development and was kept on because it described the property so aptly – Hidden Valley cannot be seen from its entrance on the Northern Highway.
“A lot of people dont even know Hidden Valley’s here. People are amazed at the whole thing,” Mr Wilson said.
He said Hidden Valley is a beautiful place to live and he thinks it will be even better with the country club.
His seven-year-old son, however, is not so sure about the attention; seeing prospective lot buyers explore the estate, he has been heard to ask: What are all these people doing in my back yard?”
Extract from The Age, Easter, 21/22 March 2008, page 32
Hacca stud a Hidden gem
Where great horses once roamed, 400 families now live.
The appeal of Hidden Valley lies in the grandeur of the landscape. Drive past the lodge gates, down a boulevard flanked by golden elms and Manchurian pear trees and a huge natural amphitheatre opens up before you.
Once Heytesbury Stud, Wallan, the private domain of billionaire entrepreneur and horse-fancier Robert Holmes a Court, this very different residential development, just north of Wallan, is now home to more than 400 families.
The hills of the Hume Ranges (1) form the backdrop to this 1136 hectare estate, and much of the valley floor is occupied by a golf course redesigned by Australian Open golf champion, Craig Parry, around a chain of lakes, creeks and islets. Many of the 950 blocks here are broad-acre allotments, so there’s a real sense of space with superlative views in all directions.
The Mediterranean aspect of the land inspired design guidelines reflecting a Tuscan theme, with terracotta roofs, an earthy colour palette and rows of cypress trees framing the broad, winding roads. Many blocks abut reserves, wetlands or the golf course, and views are guaranteed by height restrictions.
According to land sales executive Bernhard Jekic, a high proportion of prospective buyers who visit the estate end up as residents. “People can make a green change at Hidden Valley without moving too far from the city and life’s conveniences. You have to travel that extra 10 minutes, but it’s a small price to pay for the large allotments, the natural beauty of the setting, space for the children to play, and the quieter lifestyle. And with blocks starting at $140,000, it’s also great value for money.”
The latest release, in the Southern Paddocks area, consists of fully-serviced lots ranging from .45 hectares to 2.27 hectares on Cavallo Cescent. Unusually for Hidden Valley, the land here is level and low lying. Mr Jekic points out that what buyers may lose in elevated views they make up for in lower building costs. In fact the outlook over Mount Fraser and the bushy ridge that runs behind Cavallo is quite beautiful. Prices are between $200,000 and $275,000.
Smaller blocks are available in Aurina Village, a wedge of elevated land backing onto a treed gully and riding trail. Remaining lots here start at 1378 square metres and are priced from $140,000.
Robert Holmes a Court, known as Hacca to the financial press, died prematurely in 1990. He originally bought Hidden Valley for his horses, including 1984 Melbourne Cup winner Black Knight. It’s still an ideal base for horse lovers with kilometres of riding tracks and a modern equestrian centre managed by Maree Tomkinson, currently competing for selection for the Australian equestrian team for the Beijing Olympics.
Next to the equestrian centre you’ll find the Golf and Country Club – formerly Holmes a Court’s offices and library. The club provides a lively community focus with its outdoor pool, tennis courts. beauty and massage therapy rooms, pro shop, restaurant and bar.
From Hidden Valley it’s a 50 minute drive to the CBD via the Craigieburn Bypass and the Western Ring Road. The Hume Freeway is eight minutes by car. and the airport 25 minutes. The train journey from Wallan East station to the city takes 48 minutes.
Wellington Square shopping mall in Wallan is a three minute drive, while Kilmore, Victoria’s oldest inland town, is 10 minutes in the opposite direction. Locals also shop at Epping Plaza, 25 minutes away.
A school bus services Hidden Valley, taking students to a good selection of public and private schools, including primary schools in Wallan and Kilmore, Wallan Secondary College, and the International School and Assumption College in Kilmore.
Holmes a Court
The following are extracts from the book “Janet Holmes a Court” by Patricia Edgar, published in 2000.
Page 244 – Robert’s horses were his indulgence. Where a business deal would be managed and argued down to the last dollar, money spent on horses and the Stud was not an issue … his greatest racing and breeding triumph materialised when Black Knight won the 1984 Melbourne Cup…. in the inaugural Western Australian Racing Industry Awards announced in October 1985, Robert took out the honour of the Achiever of the Year.
And Robert’s plans expanded exponentially. He acquired Trelawney Stud in New Zealand and Wallan in Victoria, Janet located Wallan, which she and Robert always felt would be a very good real estate proposition, and they spent ‘unbelievable amounts of money on the property’. It was to be the best stud property in the world. There was 65 kilometres of white post-and-rail fencing. There were more garden staff working there than horse staff. It would take three days to mow the lawn from the front gate to the back gate and once finished they would start again. Wallan had to be developed in a grand manner.
Page 245 – When Robert died (2 September 1990) the horse business was in a serious loss situation. Janet had inherited …. the large property at Wallan. She sent the horses from Wallan to Trelawney. Janet had always felt Wallan was too cold for horses. Wallan was on the market (note d).
Page 326 – (In late 1995) The Financial Review listed ‘a string of other asset sales … They included the Wallan stud in Victoria (around $10 million).
Page 358 – She was surrounded by non-performing assets that drained the capital she needed to make the Heytesbury enterprises work – expensive jewellery, studs and horses, a 1000 hectare property at Wallan into which Robert had poured many more millions than its value on fences and artificial lakes, a private island, Grove House, a Manhattan apartment, cars and art.
Note d – The 1000 hectare property into which Robert poured more than $30 million sold early in 1997 for $7.3 million to a company controlled by Malaysian billionaire developer David Chui.