End of an era for Upper Hunter icon

End of an era for Upper Hunter icon


A rich chunk of NSW pastoral history has hit the market in the shape of an Upper Hunter landmark homestead property, to wind up five generations of extended family ownership.

  • LOCATION: Blandford
  • LAND: 133ha (330ac)
  • AGENTS: Angus Patterson, 0427 443 250, McGrath; Michael Pallier, 0417 371 522, Sotheby's Realty.

A rich chunk of NSW pastoral history has hit the market in the shape of an Upper Hunter landmark homestead property, to wind up five generations of extended family ownership.

On offer, by expressions of interest, is Bickham Homestead, the Blandford property that was home for most of its settled life to successive generations of the Wright family.

The station property of which Bickham Homestead was once the working core encompassed at its peak some 4856 hectares (12,000 acres).

It hosted annual shearings of up to 20,000 sheep and was home to well-regarded Merino sheep and Hereford cattle studs.

By the 1980s the property had been trimmed back to somewhat over 1214ha (3000ac) and the disposal in 1982 of two blocks left just the 133ha (330ac) homestead portion.

That's the house-and-land package now being marketed jointly by McGrath and Sotheby's on behalf of the Malone family, whose connection to Bickham goes back to 1931, when the present owners' great aunt married Max Wright.

It was Max's grandfather, Philip Wentworth Wright, who established the Wright dynasty at Bickham when he acquired the 2440ac lease of the property (then called Beckham) from Elizabeth Cory, whose late husband John had taken up the initial 870ac in 1835.

Situated just off the New England Highway at Blandford, 28 kilometres north of Scone, Bickham Homestead today is a property of fertile alluvial flats fronting the Pages River, backed by grazing hills.

Bickham Homestead has fertile alluvial flats fronting the Pages River.

In earlier times the 80ha of river flats were irrigated and cropped, and the property still holds a 65-megalitre water licence.

The country is now used for grazing and has run up to 70 cows and calves, although at present it is lightly stocked and carrying a big body of feed.

Centrepiece of the property is the historic two-storey homestead, set on a rise overlooking the river amid mature terraced gardens which incorporate a floodlit tennis court and a swimming pool.

The homestead was built in stages from the mid-1800s - reputedly with input from colonial architect Edmund Blackett - and has been faithfully maintained to preserve its period character.

Most recently refurbished in 1995, the brick and timber homestead contains formal reception and dining rooms, seven large bedrooms, a modern kitchen, four bathrooms, office and sitting rooms and a north-facing veranda.

Period features include pressed-metal ceilings, cedar panelling and staircase, numerous open fires, an Esse kitchen range, stained-glass windows and Huon pine flooring.

Set on the hillside 200 metres behind the homestead is Neville's House, a three-bedroom weatherboard cottage formerly occupied by a manager and offering restoration potential. The sites of two former staff cottages beside the river also offer scope for rebuilding.

Current working improvements include a machinery shed and cattle yards, while heritage structures still standing - in various states of repair - include a winery (from Bickham's earlier era as a vineyard), bull shed and blacksmith shop.

Expressions of interest for Bickham Homestead close on March 24, with bids of around $2.7 million expected.


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