|Note*|| Fassifern Homestead is a single-storeyed timber residence erected c1880 to replace an earlier homestead on the same site. The Fassifern run, first taken up by John Cameron in 1841-1842, was one of the earliest licensed runs in the Moreton pastoral district, which was proclaimed on 10 May 1842. In 1857 Fassifern became part of the Wienholt family's complex and ultimately extensive Queensland pastoral empire and in 1869 was amalgamated with the adjacent runs of Moogerah and Tarome as the consolidated Fassifern run. Although from the 1870s used principally to fatten cattle from the Wiehnolt family's western Queensland properties, Fassifern was renowned also for its Clydesdale horse stud.|
The Fassifern district is located in south-east Queensland, south of Flinders Peak, between the Great Dividing Range and the Teviot Range. In late 1841/early 1842 John Cameron occupied about 50,000 acres [20 234 hectares] here centred on the junction of Warrill and Reynolds creeks and which he named Fassifern. In 1844 his brother-in-law Robert Coulson took up Kingbah (later Moogerah) - about 46,800 acres [18 939 hectares] on the Reynolds Creek watershed, to the south of Fassifern; and in 1845 another brother-in-law, William Turner, took up an adjacent run to the west, which he called Cunningham's Gap (later Tarome) - about 41,500 acres [16 795 hectares] on the Warrill Creek watershed. On each run a head station and a number of subsidiary out-stations were established. By May 1848 John Cameron had transferred the lease of Fassifern to William Kent.
In the mid-nineteenth century four young Wienholt brothers , sons of a wealthy London merchant, arrived in Australia: Arnold c1847, Edward and Arthur in 1853, and Daniel c1854. In 1849, backed by family money, Arnold Wienholt purchased the lease to Strathmillar run (which he re-named Maryvale) on the Darling Downs. In 1852 he acquired the neighbouring run, Gladfield, which he incorporated into Maryvale. These runs were situated on the southern Downs on the western side of the Great Dividing Range (Main Range). In 1853 Edward and Arthur Wienholt acquired Moogerah Station south-west of Fassifern, on the eastern side of the Dividing Range from Arnold's Maryvale run. The two Wienholt runs were linked via the new road over Spicer's Peak that the Downs squatters had constructed following Henry Alphen's 'discovery' of a gap in the Main Range in 1847. In the early 1850s this was the preferred route between Ipswich and Warwick for teamsters.
In 1857 Edward and Arthur Wienholt acquired the Fassifern lease from William Kent, establishing a connection between Fassifern and the Wienholt family and their substantial Queensland pastoral empire, which was sustained for over half a century.
In 1859 Edward relinquished his interest in Fassifern and entered into partnership with William Kent in Rosalie Plains run on the Darling Downs. About this time, or possibly as early as 1858, Kent and Edward Wienholt also leased Jondaryan station from Robert Tooth, and in February 1863 purchased both the leasehold and the freehold. Jondaryan became the showpiece of the Kent and Weinholt/Wienholt family pastoral acquisitions. By 1876, 48 Queensland pastoral runs were leased by Edward Wienholt, Wienholt Brothers, J W E A & A Wienholt ,or Kent and Wienholt. By 1877, Edward Wienholt and the trustees of William Kent were the largest owners of freehold land in Queensland and Jondaryan was the largest freehold run. Edward Wienholt further took advantage of the Exchanged Land Act 1879 whereby pastoralists could exchange agricultural land taken up as pre-emptive right for twice the amount of pastoral country.
Edward Wienholt, who served as MLA for the Western Downs 1870-1873 and for the Darling Downs 1873-1875, is generally recognised as the driving force in the creation of the family's pastoral empire. By 1888 he and his partners held 289,966 acres [117,345 hectares] in the Moreton and Darling Downs districts alone, and in 1889 The Wienholt Estates Company of Australia Ltd was formed to manage the Wienholt family's Queensland acquisitions. Their land dealings were complex, extensive, and largely managed from outside Australia. Arnold Wienholt retired to Switzerland in the late 1870s. Arthur Wienholt returned to England with his family in the 1870s, as did Edward Wienholt with his family in 1880. However, Edward continued to make regular trips to Australia to oversee the family's property interests.
In 1860 William Kent and Edward Wienholt re-purchased Fassifern Station from Arthur Wienholt but Arthur soon entered into partnership with John Hardie as lessees of Fassifern, Moogerah and Tarome runs. In November 1861 they acquired a pre-emptive purchase of 53 acres [21.5 hectares] around the Fassifern head station on Reynolds Creek. Hardie was the senior partner, and in the early 1860s appears to have been resident at Fassifern, where he accrued substantial debt. In 1864 Hardie and Wienholt were declared insolvent, with the liquidation of their assets resulting in Fassifern Station (including about 1300 acres [526 hectares] of freehold) being acquired by their mortgagees, the Bank of Australasia. In January 1865 title to the pre-empted Fassifern head station passed to the Bank.
In June 1868 the Bank applied for the runs of Fassifern, Moogerah and Tarome to be consolidated under the provisions of The Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1868, the consolidation to be known as Fassifern. At this period most of the improvements were located on the original Fassifern run, and comprised the Fassifern Head Station and adjacent cultivation paddocks, four out-stations, a wash pool, wash pool paddock, and bull paddock. The Tarome improvements comprised a head station and two out-stations; and on Moogerah improvements included the head station, three out-stations, and an inn near Spicer's Peak.
The nature of the association between the Bank of Australasia and the Wienholt family in connection with Fassifern is not clear. Arthur Wienholt and his family appear to have been residing at Fassifern in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Early in 1873 the Bank transferred the lease of the consolidated Fassifern run to William, John, Edward, Arnold and Arthur Wienholt. Title to pre-emptive portion 1a, the Fassifern Head Station, was issued to the Wienholt brothers in March 1874.
From 1875 the Queensland government began resuming land for closer settlement from the consolidated Fassifern run, and during the 1870s and 1880s the Wienholts took advantage of this to gradually transform Fassifern into a freehold estate of about 44,000 acres [17 806 hectares], stocked with shorthorn cattle, including a stud herd, and a stud of Clydesdale horses. In 1889 Fassifern was included among the Wienholt family's pastoral properties floated as The Wienholt Estates Company of Australia Limited with a company capital of £500,000. Other properties in this conglomerate included Maryvale near Warwick, Warenda near Boulia, and Saltern Creek and Katandra in south-west Queensland.
From at least the late 1880s and until his death in March 1893, Fassifern was managed by the Wienholt's cousin, Henry Edward Hill. A sketch of the Fassifern Station Homestead, which appeared in the 1889 Brisbane publication The Jubilee History of Queensland, shows the homestead in the same form as its present L-shaped configuration with its two chimneys, but with what appears to be a shingled roof, and separately-roofed verandahs. Whether the residence was erected for HE Hill has not been established, but the core fabric suggests a c1880 construction date.
Photographs of Fassifern Homestead dated c1899 and c1903 indicate that by the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the residence had been renovated but the essential form had been retained. The earlier roof had been replaced with the present hipped, bungalow-style roof of corrugated iron, extending over the verandahs. The southern end of the roof of the north-south wing had been truncated as a half-hip, and a small covered porch had been created centrally in this elevation. All the present stairs to the verandahs were extant by this period, as were the curved window hoods with the decorative timber infill to the sides, over the double-hung sashes.
Following HE Hill's death in 1893 John Daniel Wienholt (only son of Daniel Wienholt) took over management of Fassifern, residing at the head station. Renovations to the main residence may have occurred during his occupancy in the late 1890s.
In the late nineteenth century the Wienholt family began to rationalise its Queensland interests. Arthur had died in England in 1892 and Arnold in Switzerland in 1895. By this period the huge freeholds that pastoralists such as the Wienholts had amassed under earlier selection Acts (via various 'peacocking' and 'dummying' practices), and which tied up much valuable agricultural land, were proving expensive to sustain. Under the provisions of the Agricultural Lands Purchase Act 1894, pastoralists were encouraged to relinquish land through repurchase by the government for re-sale as farm selections. By 1902 the Wienholt Estates Company of Australia Ltd retained Fassifern, Katandra, Maryvale and Stamfordham stations, and the Jondayran Estates Company of Australia Ltd had been formed to hold Degilbo, Jondaryan, Rosewood and Tarampa.
From early 1902 to mid-1904 Daniel Wienholt (eldest son of Arthur Wienholt) took on the management of Fassifern, taking up residence at the head station. He left in mid-1904, prior to the Fassifern freehold of 41,406 acres [16 756 hectares] being offered for sale by public auction on 8 August 1904. At this time the Fassifern freehold comprised 3 blocks: Kent's Lagoon (2,361 acres [955 hectares]); Fassifern (37,351 acres [15 115 hectares]); and Moogerah (1,694 acres [686 hectares]) - the whole divided into 32 paddocks 'with a good homestead and out Station, besides outbuildings and yards' (Dalgety & Co. Ltd auction map, 1904). Like Maryvale, for many years Fassifern had been used for fattening cattle from the Wienholt family's western stations, and was noted for its Clydesdale horse stud.
Very little of the Fassifern freehold was sold at the August auction and in September 1904 the Wienholt Estates Company offered the Fassifern Estate to the Queensland government for repurchase. The Land Commissioners who inspected the property in May 1905 found the estate well-suited to agricultural settlement, being close to the railway, with good soil, the fences in good repair, well watered, and free of noxious weeds and ticks. The manager resided in a 'good building' (ie. Fassifern Homestead) seven miles from the rail head at Munbilla.
Despite the favourable report the State government took no action. In January 1906 the Wienholt Estates Company again put up the Kent's Lagoon and Moogerah paddocks for sale at auction, and offered the balance of the estate to the government at £3 per acre. Again, the estate proved difficult to sell at auction to farmers who believed that the bulk of the estate would be repurchased soon, and again the government took no action in this matter. Finally, in December 1908 a deputation of MLAs in support of the Fassifern repurchase approached the Minister for Lands (Digby Denham), but in January 1909 the Queensland government wrote to the Wienholt Estates Company firmly rejecting the offer.
In 1908 the Queensland government did repurchase the Wienholt's Maryvale estate and the manager of Maryvale for nearly 40 years, Edward Ormond Waters Hill, then took up the management of Fassifern. EOW Hill was another Wienholt cousin and brother of HE Hill who had managed Fassifern in the 1880s and early 1890s; he was also a shareholder in and director of The Wienholt Estates Company.
Also in 1908, Arnold Wienholt (son of Edward Wienholt) and his cousin Daniel Wienholt (son of Arthur Wienholt) were appointed respectively General Manager and Company Secretary of The Wienholt Estates Company of Australia Ltd, with instructions to oversee the winding up of the Company's estates in Queensland. In September 1909 they offered the bulk of the Fassifern estate for sale at auction, at which time EOW Hill acquired the Fassifern Homestead on 457 acres [185 hectares], together with about 3,000 acres [1 214 hectares] of grazing land.
In 1916 the homestead, located on Reynolds Creek about 4 miles from Engelsburg (later Kalbar), was described as having 'replaced the original house some years ago' and as 'a comfortable wooden building, with water and gas laid on. It is surrounded with lawns and flower-beds, and has an orchard, vineyard, and vegetable garden attached' (Fox 1919:325).
EOW Hill resided at Fassifern Homestead until c1921. In 1927 title to the homestead on about 316 acres [128 hectares] was transferred to Timothy Dwyer. Changes to the homestead made during Mr Dwyer's occupancy include the removal c1930s of an adjacent early kitchen and staff building and the extension of the south-east corner of Fassifern Homestead to accommodate an internal kitchen. Following Mr Dwyer's death in 1939, the property passed to his son, Patrick Francis Dwyer, who ran a grazing farm from Fassifern Homestead until his death in 1980. Patrick was buried in the Fassifern Homestead yard. In 2008 the house, on a substantially reduced parcel of land of just over 6 000m², remained the property of his widow, Joie Elwyn Dwyer (a former long-term Boonah Shire Councillor).
During the 1970s changes were made to the north-facing wing of the house. The timber arch dividing its two rooms was removed to create one long room and the entire corresponding length of northern verandah was enclosed. The french doors opening out onto this verandah were removed and replaced with timber-framed sliding doors with large single lights. The interior spaces were lined with fibrous-cement sheeting, but the original timber linings were retained beneath this. Other changes to the house made by Patrick and Joie Dwyer include later linings to other rooms in the house; the enclosure of part of the western verandah on the north-south wing as a laundry; the enclosure of the north-east corner of the verandahs as an office; and the insertion of an ensuite in one of the bedrooms.5