Martindale Station

13 Nov

When his father drowned in the River Wakefield across from the paddocks at Martindale Station, Edmund Bowman was 11 years old. The Station was an 11,000 acre Merino sheep farm in a vast valley of land built up by his father, a free man and immigrant to Australia.  As a boy Edmund lived with his brothers, miles from the nearest neighbor in a land of cicadas, gum trees and ferocious summer heat.

Edmund inherited the station, the land, the sheep and a vast sum of money He later went to Cambridge University, graduated without remark, and returned from London to run the station.

But Southern Australia was a long way from England. And at 21, Edmund wanted to become a country squire and “Lord of the Manor,” rather than owner of a remote sheep station in the uncivilized country of Australia. So to confirm his pedigree and show his wealth Edmund built the Georgian mansion, “Martindale Hall” for 30,000 pounds, a significant sum in 1841. He had a butler, a housekeeper, 13 servants, a billiards room, a formal dining room with primitive air conditioning and many large crystal chandeliers.

He lived a princely lifestyle with formal dinners, balls, polo games and imported guests.

Ten years later, after spending all of his inheritance and mortgaging his land and the Hall, a strapped Edmund left to seek a new fortune farther north in the Flinders Ranges.

Today Martindale Hall is best known for its appearance as the girl’s college in the Peter Weir film, “The Picnic at Hanging Rock.” If you see the movie you will see the house and the land and hear Edmund’s cicadas endlessly buzzing still.

4 Responses to “Martindale Station”

  1. Maryl November 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    It looks like a stately mansion that we saw on our travels up the Hudson River in NY. The only dead giveaway are the palm trees in front of the house. Were you able to go inside? Did it have original furnishings of that era?

    • Jill November 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      We did get to explore the entire house. There are no furnishings from the time of Edmund Bowman but there are furnishings from later inhabitants. There is only one room that is completely intact. That is the study of a lifelong bachelor who collected art and artifacts from all over the world.His survivors closed the door when he died and it wasn’t reopened until it was a museum. Otherwise most of the furnishings are an eclectic mix of periods. There is a great billiards table (original) and the chandeliers. The air conditioning was interesting. They trapped cold air in the basement and it flowed out vents on the first floor. The summers here are very, very hot so we hear. There is a mammoth coach house that has yet to be restored about 300 m. from the house. If there were gardens, they have no photos from any era. I suspect there weren’t any plantings. I think that is what makes the place feel so awkward on the land.

  2. Neil Freer November 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Succinctly put:

    The Dalai Lama: we sacrifice our health in order to make money. THEN….we sacrifice money to recuperate our health. THEN….we are so anxious about the future, we do not enjoy the present.

  3. Neil Freer November 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    30,000 pounds………………. !!!
    Wonder how hard one has to work to blow a fortune and assets of that magnitude……..uhhhhh

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