Bellevue Homestead is a heritage-listed homestead currently located in Coominya, Queensland, Australia. The Bellevue property was the western part of the original Wivenhoe Run established in the 1840s which covered 38,000 acres (150 km2) on the western side of the Brisbane River valley. A large portion of this land is now part of the Wivenhoe Dam. The homestead was restored by the National Trust of Queensland between 1975 and 1980 after moving the buildings from the banks of the Brisbane River to the nearby town of Coominya to avoid being flooded.
The Wivenhoe Run
Because the Brisbane Valley is unique in having a large number of naturally occurring lakes and lagoons it has been given the name of 'Valley of the lakes'. Almost all the valley lies in the Esk Shire whose governing council is now being amalgamated with the governing council of the neighbouring Shire of Kilcoy which contains more of the Brisbane River system. The new governing council is called the Somerset Regional Council. The Somerset region contains a significant number of large residences that have been restored to their original state when built in the 19th century. Many are still lived in and can be visited as a part of the living history of the early settlement of Queensland.
Starting with Bellevue Homestead at Coominya, other restored dwellings in the Somerset region are the Esk Heritage (Lars Anderson) House in Esk, Caboonbah Homestead, the home of Henry Plantagenet Somerset, Cressbrook Station at Toogoolawah, continuously owned by the McConnell family from the early 1840s to the present (not open to the public), Ringsfield House in Nanango, Stonehouse in Moore and the Convent, now the Heritage Centre, at Yarraman.
Chronology of ownership
In 1848, J. S. Ferriter and E. B. Uhr squatted on 38,000 acres (150 km2) close to limits of convict colony of Moreton Bay and called it Wivenhoe Run after the town in England. They grazed sheep and built two single roomed huts. The eastern hut was called Wivenhoe Homestead and the western slab hut was called Bellevue Homestead. The following year Wivenhoe lease registered in New South Wales Government Gazette. A lease was purchased by Major William North Senior and son, Lieutenant Joseph North. Joseph North and wife lived in Wivenhoe Homestead and William North and wife lived in Bellevue Homestead hut.
In 1868, on the Bellevue portion, the Norths built a four-roomed family residence and a Governess' residence with school room, guest bedroom and head stockman's room. An old slab hut was retained as the kitchen in a service wing. Outside bathrooms and toilets were built. The same year, the Queensland Government resumed the eastern half of Wivenhoe Run for subdivision and closer settlement, but the Norths were allowed to keep the lease of western half, the Bellevue Selection. Livestock was changed from sheep to cattle in 1870. In 1872, the Bellevue lease was purchased by Alexander Dunbar Campbell and John Hay. Seven years later the title was purchased by Campbell and Hay by paying out lease. Five Deeds of Grant were issued.
1880 saw the Certificate of Title purchased by Henry Grosvenor Simpson, Bellevue, and Alexander Dunbar Campbell from Sydney. Campbell became the sole owner in 1883, however, Henry Simpson and wife lived at and managed Bellevue Station from the 1870s to the 1890s. The Simpsons' three children were born at Bellevue Homestead. In 1884, James Taylor MLA, who lived in Clifford House, Toowoomba, and owned Cecil Plains and several other cattle properties, purchased Bellevue for his son, Charles Condamine Taylor and wife, born Edith Maud Harris in Newstead House in Brisbane. Two years later the Brisbane Valley railway line extended from Lowood to Esk with a goods platform station built at the entrance to Bellevue cattle station. In 1887, Evelyn Maud Condamine Taylor born at Bellevue Homestead. Cecile Taylor born at Bellevue Homestead in 1891.
The 1893 Brisbane River flood washed away the mud walls of Bellevue Homestead. The walls were then clad outside with cedar weather boards and inside with hoop pine boards covered with Hessian (scrim) and wallpaper. Joan Taylor born at Bellevue Homestead in 1897. In 1899, Charles Condamine Taylor died at the homestead.
In 1901, widow Edith Maud Taylor married Charles Lumley Hill, Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, owner of several large cattle properties in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Between 1902 and 1904 the Lumley Hills established a Hereford cattle stud by purchase of the Durandur stud, which dated back to the first imports of Herefords to the Cressy stud in Tasmania. Construction of the guest house and modification of family home also occurred.
In 1905, the name of Bellevue railway station and post office changed from Bellevue to Coominya. Charles Lumley Hill died in 1909. Nephew, Colin Hill, continued to manage Bellevue property until 1925
The modification of the guest house and service wing occurred in 1920 for a visit by HRH Prince Edward, Prince of Wales. In 1925, Mrs Lumley Hill died; Buried in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane. In the same year Bellevue was purchased by her daughter, Mrs Evelyn Watt of Sydney.
In 1950, Evelyn Watt died. Christopher Alexander White and son purchased the property the following year, only to quickly sell it to Kenneth McLean. In 1953, the Hereford stud was sold. Bellevue was purchased by Valentine and Mary Crowe in 1965. In 1975, the Bellevue property was resumed by Co-Ordinator General for the Wivenhoe Dam. Between 1975 and 1980, the National Trust of Australia restored Bellevue Homestead and outbuildings after moving them from the banks of the Brisbane River to the entrance of the property at Coominya. From 1980 to 2004, the National Trust opened Bellevue Homestead to the public for tours.
Between 2004 and 2007 Bellevue Homestead was purchased and operated by Ken and Tanya Bullen from Toowoomba. In 2007, Bellevue Homestead was purchased and since been operated by John and Laurel Dingle from Coominya.
Bellevue Homestead is located opposite the railway station in Coominya, close to the original entrance to the property. It consists of three interconnected dwellings with an attached service wing and separate farm buildings. The main farmhouse and guest house face northeast and are encircled by verandas, with a spine of kitchen, stores, servants' hall and laundry attached at right angles, forming a T-shaped plan. A cottage, previously a school house and governess' residence, is attached on the south-east forming a southern courtyard, and a row of barns and stables is located on the southwest. All buildings, with the exception of the hay loft, are single-storeyed and sit on timber stumps.
The main farmhouse has projecting gable porches over the southwest and northeast entrances with decorative timber barge boards, trusses and finials. Timber shingles are visible under the corrugated iron sheeting. Its plan consists of three bedrooms and a drawing room or parlour with a central hall. The side verandas have been enclosed to expand the rooms through large archways, the northwest being enclosed with very wide cedar chamfer boards. Some rooms show different layers of the building's fabric, including pit sawn framing with mortise and tenon joints and hand finished lining boards. Decorative features include painted wood grain in the hall, hand painted wall paper, pressed metal ceilings in the drawing room, carved timber fireplace surrounds, casement windows, some of which have coloured glass inserts, step out bays and pressed metal window hoods.
The attached guest house has a projecting gable porch to the northeast with decorative timber arch brackets, barge board, finial and diagonally boarded gable. The verandas have dowel balustrades, lattice valances and timber arch brackets. Its plan consists of a large formal dining room, a smoking room and a two-roomed guest suite. These are accessed from an enclosed verandah entrance hall with entrance doors at both ends with sidelights and fanlight of etched coloured glass. All rooms have fretworked cedar ceiling roses. The dining room has a metal lined wine store cupboard and its walls are panelled in cedar with silky oak inserts to a dado with full length vertical tongue-and-groove hoop pine boards above and along the 30-foot (9.1 m) ceiling. The tiled fireplace has a carved timber surround, and all timber is oiled/stained. The dining room also has remnants of gas fittings from the time the Homestead made its own gas from carbide, and remnants of electrical fittings from the time the Homestead generated its own electricity. All rooms have step out bays and double French doors with timber shutters and all internal doors have fanlights.
The service wing consists of a kitchen that was originally a single roomed slab hut, now weather-boarded on three sides but retaining the original adze-trimmed split slab wall on the fourth side, to which have been added extensions of a store, food preparation room, servants' dining and entertainment hall and laundry. The kitchen has corrugated iron over the timber shingle gable roof with a verandah to the courtyard and a scullery attached to the back and three pressed metal ridge ventilators. The interior has single skin cedar board walls and a large brick fireplace with wood burning stove, hot water donkey and a charcoal grill with dripping collection tray. A modern kitchen has been installed in the food preparation room.
On the other side of the courtyard facing the service wing, the cottage has an L-shaped plan and consists of a series of rooms added at different times. The weatherboard building has a corrugated iron gable roof with a bay to the northwest, surmounted by a gable, and verandas northeast and northwest.
A row of weatherboard farm buildings with corrugated iron gable roofs is located to the southwest. The farm buildings consist of a meat room, coach house, tack room, five slip rail stables and a two-storey hay loft. The stables have sawn cross cut timber and earth floors. The grounds include a circular drive with gardens to the north, overlooking a private dam positioned the same distance that the Brisbane River was from the house at its original location. The floor plan of the restored homestead is shown below.
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