One of the founding pastoral estates of the historic Mudgee district has been listed for sale for the first time since its original settlement, ending six generations of one-family occupation.
“Wilbetree” was taken up in 1825, originally as a 2000-acre crown grant, by Robert Lowe, who had arrived in the colony with his family in 1812 and settled at Bringelly, near Camden.
Today, “Wilbetree” is a “plum” holding of 370 hectares (913ac) combining a heritage homestead and rich alluvial flats flanking the Cudgegong River, 10 kilometres north of Mudgee.
It is being offered for sale by Sue Kearins, who lives on the property with her husband Mike, and Sue’s brother Richard Daniel, both of whom are sixth-generation descendants of Robert Lowe.
They have listed the property with Andrew Blackman of First National Real Estate in Mudgee and it will go to on-site auction on April 29, with price expectations in a range from $5.5-$6 million.
Robert Lowe’s second and third sons, Robert junior and William, were the first Lowes to take up residence on “Wilbetree”, moving there from another family property at Tarana in the early 1830s.
Some years later they divided the property in two, Robert taking the portion that is now “Wilbetree” and William forming a new property called “Eurunderee”.
It was Robert (jnr) who built the present homestead in the 1840s, replacing an earlier one that is also still standing and in use. Both were built from bricks made from a claypit on the property.
“Wilbetree” today is managed as a mixed operation producing irrigated lucerne in conjunction with sheep or cattle grazing and dryland cropping.
The productive core of “Wilbetree” is its 120ha (approx) of prime alluvial flats, of which more than 100ha is set up for irrigation using two centre pivots and a travelling irrigator, drawing from eight wells.
Rising from the flats, the property comprises mostly arable country of fertile red loam soils, suited to cropping or improved pastures.
Typically about 140ha of the upland country is sown to winter crop for grazing and grain to supplement cattle breeding and finishing. However, the property lends itself to a range of enterprises, including dairying or viticulture, or a horse or cattle stud operation.
For many prospective buyers, though, the key attraction of “Wilbetree” will be its refurbished 1840s homestead, regarded as one of the grandest and best maintained in the Mudgee district.
Set on a rise with views over the property, the four-bedroom home underwent substantial modification and extension in the 1980s, along with the establishment of more than a hectare of landscaped gardens.
Internal features include a central hallway, wide verandahs, formal and informal living areas, modernised kitchen, cedar joinery, polished floorboards and near-new carpets.
The main homestead and its former servants’ quarters form two sides of a courtyard, the third side of which is the original 1825 homestead, now a three-bedroom guests’ cottage.