Bluestone Blackwood in Western Victoria listed by RIFA Chinese interests

Bluestone Blackwood in Western Victoria listed by RIFA Chinese interests
Bluestone Blackwood in Western Victoria listed by RIFA Chinese interests

The historic 2,420 hectare farm, Blackwood near Dunkeld has been listed for sale by Rifa Salutary through a CBRE expressions of interest campaign closing September 5.

It was the Ritchie family who sold to the Chinese owned farming operation Rifa Salutary in late 2013.

The Chinese backed firm has listed several farms.

The director of Rifa Salutary and Vice President of Rifa Holding Group, Bobby Jiang, said the company felt the time was right to capture value as a result of completed expenditure and improvement programs, combined with the growth in land value of its recently accumulated farms.

Blackwood is regarded as a western districts' icon, with a history dating back to 1842, and outright ownership by the Ritchie family dating back to 1845.

It's 2014 sale was actually the second time the property had been sold by the Ritchie family as it was bought back in 1927 after an 11 year gap following the great war.

The Blackwood homestead, with private cemetery, is located on the Dunkeld - Blackwood Road, eight kilometres north east of the township of Penshurst.

penshurst_feb_17_one

It comes with the original two roomed bluestone homestead, constructed after 1842; a second bluestone homestead built in 1864; a bluestone and timber woolshed, and the current Blackwood homestead, stables and coach house which were constructed in 1891 amid four acres of garden.

The land was first taken up as pre-emptive right by James Sceales in 1842, some 10 000 acres, and by October 1845, James Ritchie had full control of Blackwood having bought out his partner Sceales. James Ritchie had arrived from Scotland in April 1841.

Blackwood has most recently been farmed by Jason Ritchie, the son of the late Robin Ritchie, onetime chair of Energy Victoria and his wife, Eda Ritchie, the commissioner of the Shire of Moyne, a former president of the Victorian Liberal Party and the sister of Tammy Fraser and Hugh Beggs, the former head of the Wool Corporation.

The cemetery, surrounded by a bluestone fence, located some distance from the current homestead contains several unmarked graves of the Ritchie family, as well as and an obelisk dedicated to James Ritchie, who died in 1857, aged 45 when his horse bolted and threw him against a tree.

The main bluestone homestead and separate stable block was constructed in 1891 by the architectural firm, Butler and Ussher for Robert Blackwood Ritchie on a hill top overlooking the surrounding plains with view of the Grampian Ranges.

The homestead was constructed of local bluestone in the Picturesque Aesthetic style.

Bluestone has been combined with sandstone for window details, along with half timbering and plaster to the gable ends, all under Major's patent terracotta tiles from Bridgewater in the UK.

Bluestone Blackwood in Western Victoria listed by RIFA Chinese interests

The interior is in the Jacobean manner and has dado paneling. 

Notes from the National Trust state that the tender accepted for the construction of the house was for 4790 pounds, 1000 pounds being allowed the contractor for 'old building'. The tender for the stables was for 1202 pounds.

The house and stables took 18 months to construct.

George Tibbits, in an article titled 'The So-Called Melbourne Domestic Queen Anne' describes Blackwood Homestead as one of the finest 19th century examples. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Rifa Blackwood

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