Revised Edition, 2022
Text: Richard Allen
Photography: Kimbal Baker
Publisher: Melbourne University Press
Imprint: The Miegunyah Press
Booktopia price (August 2022): $43.75
This wonderful book is a revised edition of the first release of this title in 2015.
The book provides the reader with fascinating insights into the lovely homes – some grander than others – and splendid properties, because that is the books essence, the properties, the land upon which the houses are found, and their owners, past and present.
There are some truly large homes, built in one piece by a fabulously wealthy (at that time at least!) owner. However, most of the homes are emblematic of the fortunes of their owners. Often starting from quite humble beginnings, extended as fortunes improved, reduced as fortunes declined, and now renovated to welcome in the next era.
The book demonstrates, through both the truly beautiful photography of Kimbal Baker and the meticulous detail regarding agricultural practices and the history of the establishments provided by Richard Allen, that properties are far more than houses. They are the land and the farming businesses which sustain the families, which the houses protect, and who, in turn, create, manage and develop the farming businesses which sustain the land and the houses. Each supporting and nurturing the other.
The history of the properties includes the histories of the owners over the years. There are several multi-generational farming families, some of which are interconnected, demonstrating their long term commitment to, and enthusiasm for, the land. Other families are relative newcomers, bringing their own special abilities and innovative thinking – and, importantly, capital.
The properties themselves demonstrate that the great constant is change. This is the story of some of the truly great properties of the exceptional Western District of Victoria, their successful management brought about by decades of adaptation to the great constant of change, and the homes of the families whose lives are dedicated to being the custodians of that great enterprise.