English novelist Anthony Trollope described the Western District squatters in the 1870s as 'plentiful, proud, prejudiced, given to hospitality, impatient of contradiction a thoughtful on the future, and above all, conscious-perhaps a little too conscious-of their own importance a forty thousand sheep cannot be shorn without a piano; twenty thousand is the lowest number that renders napkins at dinner imperative'.
But these squatters were also speculators and investors, whose entrepreneuship built great wealth and elaborate mansions. Around their Georgian and Victorian homes they created an antipodean England, employing the best-known landscape architects of the day. The Western District today retains most of the renowned homesteads and gardens that date from these times.
This fascinating and beautiful book-sequel to the bestselling Great Properties of Country Victoria-takes us into the private world of thirteen more notable properties. Through their histories we follow their fortunes-extraordinary tales of risk and reward-and through the photographs see the splendour of great homes that have been lovingly maintained and carefully restored. It is a tribute to the past and present owners who have so painstakingly preserved their properties' heritage.
Richard Allen has been a writer for more than 30 years and has written on a wide variety of subjects for The Australian Financial Review, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, Sunday Telegraph (UK) and BRW. His previous books include Shimmering Spokes- One Australian's 16,000 Kilometre Odyssey, Recollections of a Remarkable Age, Australia's Remarkable Trees, The Spirit of Golf and How It Applies to Life, Great Properties of Country Victoria- The Western District's Golden Age, and The Royal Melbourne Golf Club-125 Years.Kimbal Baker is a Melbourne-based freelance photographer who has worked for ACP Publications and Agence France Presse. His photographs have appeared in numerous books. This book is his fourth collaboration with Richard Allen, and follows Australia's Remarkable Trees, Great Properties of Country Victoria- The Western District's Golden Age and The Courses of The Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Australia Post featured several of his photographs of Australian trees in a series of postage stamps and first day covers. His images have been archived in the National Library of Australia.