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The oldest property in the Central West up for auction

By Lyndsey Douglas

A slice of Australia’s colonial history is set for auction next month. Macquarie was the first farm beyond Australia’s coast and the first dwelling over the Great Dividing Range.

In 200 years, only three families have held the farm that explorer William Lawson settled after crossing the Blue Mountains, Macquarie sits between the hamlet of O’Connell and city of Bathurst.

Pat Bird, director at Ray White Emms Mooney says the homestead and barracks were built between 1822 and 1824 by convicts on 1000 acres of land granted by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to William Lawson for his role in crossing the Blue Mountains with Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth.

“The homestead is a Georgian farmhouse built in the early Australian colonial tradition with wide verandahs, low doorways leading off the hall, thick brick walls up to 500mm and constructed of locally sourced materials,” Mr Bird said.

“The impression of a modest building as you ascend the driveway is dispelled once inside,” Pat Bird said.

“The 27 bedrooms, extensive cellars, two storey convict barracks with domestic convict accommodation in the roof are an impressive example of superbly restrained restoration that allows modern living in this iconic place.”

“It has been estimated that one million bricks have been used in the buildings and the timber all cut by hand with a cross-cut sad by the convict labourers is estimated to be 300 or even 400 years old. There have only been three families to own Macquarie. The Lawsons, McKibbins and today the Hennessy family. So much of the history has remained as a result.”

The property has 5.5km of Fish River frontage.

Owner Paul Hennessy said Macquarie had great historical significance as the oldest farm on the western side of the Blue Mountains.

“The property is here due to the patronage of the father of Australia, Lachlan Macquarie, and the property carries his name. My wife and I, as owners of this very historic property, have regarded ourselves as custodians and curators,” Mr Hennessy said. The couple restored the property in 2017.

The barracks, which would have housed up to 28 convicts, could be used as guest accommodation. Though the upper storey of the barracks would have been used originally to store hay, the Hennessy’s convert that space so it could be used for accommodation, with its own kitchen and bathroom.

Additional historic information:

Young soldier-farmer William Lawson (1774-1850), became famous as a result of his participation in the first european crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 when he was 19. Lawson, alongside Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth set out with four convict servants, five dogs, and four horses to find a way across the mountains, vertical cliffs, rivers and creeks that many others had failed to cross.

He was one of the most successful sheep breeders in NSW, following John Macarthur and Samuel Marsden, by the time he discovered an abundance of pasture west of Bathurst. In 1814, Governor Lachlan Macquarie gave a land grant of 1000 acres to Lawson as a reward for crossing the Blue Mountains. The next year, Lawson delivered 100 head of cattle to “Macquarie”, determined to be the first settler in the west.

The property remained in the Lawson family until 1918, when it was sold to the McKibbin family (including Australian Test Cricketer Thomas Robert Mckibbin (1870-1939), and was sold to the Hennessys in 2012.

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