Belltrees Federation Grand Country House

Gundy Road, Scone Hunter Valley New South Wales 2337

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An example of Federation Filigree style
This photo shows Belltrees homestead in the Hunter Valley.
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The Belltrees Homestead

In 1907 at the peak of the wool production era, H.L. White built the 52 room Homestead.
  • The house was designed for the White family, one of New England's pastoral dynasties, by J W Pender, one of three generations of the family firm of Maitland architects who left such an impression on the New England built landscape.
  • It is heritage listed.
  • It is now the family home of Dr Judy White, author, historian, archivist and grandmother of 19 grandchildren.
  • The house features an imposing internal staircase and a cast-iron balcony verandah on both floors.
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  • Still standing in its grounds is a part of the original house, a chapel, a slab cottage, and a massive shearing shed.
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Monochrome Images from the National Library of Australia by Wes Stacey:

Lower stair-hall at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Lower stair-hall at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970


Lower stair-hall to hallway at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Lower stair-hall to hallway at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Stair case viewed from side entrance at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Stair case viewed from side entrance at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Hall with a view to the side entrance at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Hall with a view to the side entrance at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

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Verandah at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Verandah at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970


Verandah at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Verandah at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Balustrade of the upper balcony at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Balustrade of the upper balcony at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Bay window viewed from the garden of Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Bay window viewed from the garden of Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Dining room at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Dining room at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Side entrance on lower verandah at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Side entrance on lower verandah at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Upper balcony at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Upper balcony at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Staircase at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Staircase at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Upper stair landing and hall at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Upper stair landing and hall at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Side entrance hallway at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Side entrance hallway at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970

Billiard room at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970
Billiard room at Belltrees Homestead, Scone, New South Wales, ca. 1970


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The Hunter River through Belltrees Station
















Belltrees has been the home of the White family since 1831 and one of Australia’s most famous rural properties.
  • It is approximately 9000 ha (22,000 acres) in size and located along the Hunter River, upstream of Lake GlenbawBelltrees.jpgn in the rich and fertile Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales , Australia.
  • At the heart of the Belltrees property and the centre piece to the valley, stands proud, the main Belltrees Homestead (1908), in company with other fine buildings of the past;
  • St James Chapel (1887),
  • original colonial homestead (1836) (now museum),
  • Trading Store (1837)(now office), Shearing Shed (©1880),
  • Primary School,
  • Country House and a selection of Cottages located along the Hunter River.

History

052010-homepge2.jpgIn 1831 Hamilton Collins Sempill received a primary grant of 2,560 acres at the junction of the Hunter River and Woolooma Gully and named it Belltrees. That same year James White took possession of his primary grant of 1,280 acres at the Junction of the Isis and Pages Rivers, just five miles away, naming it Broomfield after his Somerset home (White, 1981).

Belltrees then passed into the hands of William Charles Wentworth. Wentworth did not reside at Belltrees and in the late forties the estate was leased by James White Junior

In 1853, realising the wool producing potential of the vast Upper Hunter area, the White family took ownership of Belltrees, combining it with holdings at Broomfield, Ellerston and Waverley, and other positions in between. For the next 41 years, James White Junior and his brothers, Francis, George and Henry Charles managed Belltrees (White, 1981).5124938120_11942c391d.jpg

  • By 1912, the station was a self-contained community, with a public school, a store, a community hall and its own post office. All in all the station took in 240,000 acres, surrounded by 2,000 miles of fencing, and 64 houses (White, 2008).

  • Up until 1920, there were 100 people working in the woolshed where up to 180,000 sheep were shorn and 3,000 bales of wool exported to England. The sheep enterprise eased in 1960 and was replaced by the Angus Beef cattle breading venture. Today around 5,000 head of cattle are grazed on Belltrees (White, 2008).

  • Brothers Antony and Peter White now manage the property with their children, who are the seventh generation of Whites to grow up on Belltrees. The late Michael White, Anthony and Peter's father and husband to Judy White, instilled in the family a strong
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    Interview: Philip Ashley-Brown "River Stories" - Belltrees Station
    commitment to the preservation of the rural heritage of Belltrees.

  • This commitment continues through the family's care and upkeep of the historic buildings on the property, including the Woolshed, the Post Office, the Chapel, the old stables and the magnificent Homestead. There is also a Belltrees museum, containing some fine relics of agricultural history.

  • In an interview from the ABC River Stories program Judy White gives reporter Phil Ashley-Brown a tour of the historic homestead. (interview)

Henry White

  • Henry White, known as 'H.L.', was Patrick White's wealthy uncle who lived at 'Belltrees', Gundy Road, Scone - part of one of Australia's most-famous pastoral holdings. 'Belltrees' homestead is a two-storey brick house built in 1907-8 on land purchased in 1853 by James White, Patrick's great-uncle.external image v_pond.jpg

  • Henry White's collection of birds' eggs and skins was sufficient for him to engage a full-time ornithologist for twenty years. These items ('a grand total of 11,863 eggs' and their extensive display cabinets) were bequeathed to the Melbourne National Museum. His Australian stamps collection included some pre-Federation New South Wales ones valued in the 1930s at twenty thousand pounds.

  • In his Old Books, Old Friends, Old Sydney Jim Tyrrell recalled:
    The H.L. White collection had also in it some nice items of literary Australiana, especially on the ornithological and natural history side. I particularly remember his very fine complete set of Gould's The Birds of Australia [valued at the end of the twentieth century at around $350,000, although in late 1980s boom considerably greater prices were achieved].

  • In his acclaimed biography, Patrick White - A Life , David Marr backgrounded H.L. White:
    'a small, reclusive and forthright man, with a strong and original intelligence. He ran Belltrees on a fuedal scale and in his hands it grew to 140,000 acres. For the 250 people on the place he built a school, post office, hall, store and church. The village celebrated Empire Day with bonfires, fielded a cricket team and sent detachments off to war.

    "Who made the world?" asked a clergyman visiting Belltrees public school.
    'Please sir,' answered a boy, 'Mr H.L. White.'

Accommodation at The Belltrees Cottages, Mountain Retreat and Country House


The White family invite you to experience the rugged, colonial elegance of an Australian, country lifestyle on a working rural property.
Come and stay in your own self contained cottage, situated on the banks of the Hunter River, so you can be totally independent yet close enough to the day to day workings of the property.... Read more:
Belltrees country guest house
Belltrees country guest house

The Country House


Whole House rental only,

4 x Double (Queen or King) bedrooms all with ensuite.
Suitable For:


Family / friends wanting a relaxing stay with

all the conveniences or small conferences.
more details


Belltrees - The White Cottage
Belltrees - The White Cottage

The White Cottage

Up to six guests, self-contained or catered.
2 x Double bedrooms each with en suite plus
an extra Double bedroom.
Suitable For:


Families, Groups and Team Building

Seminars / Workshops.
more details

Belltrees- Munro Cottage
Belltrees- Munro Cottage

Munro Cottage

Up to eight guests, self-contained or catered.
2 x Double, 2 x Twin bedrooms, One bathroom.
Hunter River and Mountain views.
Suitable For:


Families, Groups and Team Building

Seminars / Workshops.

Unavailable: Under permanent rental
more details

Belltrees - Mitchell Cottage
Belltrees - Mitchell Cottage

Mitchell Cottage
3 x Double (Queen) bedrooms, One bathroom,
self contained or catered. Hunter River and
Mountain views.
Suitable For:


Families, Groups and Team Building

Seminars / Workshops.
more details

Belltrees - Mountain Retreat
Belltrees - Mountain Retreat

Mountain Retreat
Self contained. 2 x Double bedrooms.
One bathroom. Fireplace. Spectacular views.
4WD access only.
Suitable For:


Honeymoon, special occasion, romantic escape.
Subject to weather conditions
more details

References: