Anlaby Homestead: Lisa examines some of our pastoral history in the Mid North region of South Australia

The rolling hills of South Australia's mid north are rich in history with stories of massive wealth from the days when Australia rode on the sheep's back. A classic example of that wealth can be found at Anlaby, about an hour and a half drive from Adelaide. Anlaby is more like a village than a farm - a collection of cottages and houses built for the dozens of gardeners, coachmen, kennel masters and farm workers.

Peter Hayward, Anlaby Homestead: "There has been a settlement at Anlaby since 1839 when the Duttons drove a thousand sheep from Goulburn in New South Wales over here in the days when you could get killed doing that and I understand one fellow did."

Under the stewardship of Henry Dutton the property thrived with as many as 70 people working and living here with their families. Current owners Peter Heywood and Andrew Morphett are keen to preserve the place Anlaby holds in early Colonial history.

Peter Hayward, Anlaby Homestead: "We have been able to save what is a tiny little piece of Victorian England really. Which is what people did when they came to Australia - they wanted to recreate a little bit of England."

And that meant having things like cucumbers all year round in a specially built Cucumber House - complete with heated pipes to regulate the temperature in winter.

Being so far from town they had to be self-sufficient - not just in the basics but in entertainment. Anlaby has always been part of the social fabric. In its heyday under Henry 'The Squire' Dutton, garden parties at Anlaby were legendary. Fourteen gardeners tended the magnificent gardens including 6 thousand roses.

Anyone for tennis? There was a tennis court of course but you need somewhere to sit. So why not build a folly? Somewhere to keep score and sip your gin and tonic.

Anlaby's quadrangle or village square, complete with its own clock tower, is quiet now but in the boom days it was bustling with the blacksmith working overtime, and the groomsmen tending the harness - all under the watchful eye of the farm manager and pay master in his two story office. It's now the Manor House and offers comfortable Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

The homestead is the very heart of the property and as the saying goes, 'it's grown like topsy' over the years with five generations of Duttons adding their known touch.

Peter Hayward, Anlaby Homestead: "The house grew with the fortunes of the family. It's a great house to live in basically because it's always been a family home - it's been lived in continuously since it was built. And as different generations of the Dutton family moved in they made their own changes."

That includes the stunning library complete with rich woodwork, plush red carpets and original curtains and light fittings.

Peter Hayward, Anlaby Homestead: "The library was built in 1927. It's a fantastic winter room with a great open fire."

All of this was paid for by fine Merino Wool - and the sheer size of the historic Anlaby woolshed says a lot about the days when each fleece was golden.

Peter Haywood: "In its heyday about 70,000 sheep were shorn in here each year. They were shearing for 9 months of the year with 70 people working and living here. It was a 36 stand shed which meant 36 shearers could be shearing at one time."

In a nearby paddock, a small mob of sheep is proof that, in a way, Peter and Andrew have 'bought back the farm'. They've purchased the original Anlaby Merino bloodline which means the breeding of these girls can be traced back to the original flock over-landed from Goulburn way back in 1839. That makes their modest clip a valuable commodity which is being spun and woven into a very exclusive range of limited edition thro rugs.

Peter Haywood: "in our first shearing we did we made 140 blankets which are going to be numbered. This is number one of 140. We shore four bales of wool and one of lamb's wool and we're gong to make a range of products including baby's blankets made from the lamb's wool. They are really soft.'

Buy one and you buy your own slice of South Australia's oldest Merion Stud. They are $200 each and are available from Anlaby direct or online. Tours of the House and Garden are available for groups of 10 or more by prior appointment.

And B&B accommodation in the Manor House starts at $160 per room per night. Contact 8566 2465 or log onto anlaby.com.au for further details. Anlaby is located on Anlaby Road - mid way between Kapunda and Eudunda in South Australia's mid north. If you have any further questions please email info@postcards-sa.com.au

Anlaby Homestead
Anlaby Rd
Kapunda
Ph 8566 2465

Published 23rd May 2010

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