Purrumbete, with its Walter Withers farming murals, sold in Victoria's Western Districts

Purrumbete, with its Walter Withers farming murals, sold in Victoria's Western Districts
Purrumbete, with its Walter Withers farming murals, sold in Victoria's Western Districts

Purrumbete, the 10-bedroom bluestone homestead in Victoria's Western District, has been sold.

It comes nine months after being relisted with a $6 million asking price, which was then revised to $5.5 million. Andrew Rice at Charles Stewart Geelong has advised the sale, with undisclosed sales price, on the agency website.

Andrew Rice, the agency director of rural property sales, advised Property Observer its sold to an undisclosed Geelong district family.

The estate on 170 hectares, some 75 minutes from Geelong, initially hit the market in late 2010. It was listed by B&B operators Max and Ann Magilton, who've occasionally quipped that they bought six paintings with a house and farm attached. They paid $2 million in 2000.

Set on Lake Purrumbete, the house comes with a 1902 great hall lined with six Walter Withers murals telling how the Manifold family settled the area in the 1830s.

The Manifolds replaced the original slab hut with a bluestone and weatherboard house in the 1840s, which was incorporated into a larger residence in the 1850s and then in 1901 the architect Guyon Purchas undertook extensions and renovations for it to become a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture.

Later in Purrembete's ownership the late Sydney stockbroker Rene Rivkin, attracted by the Withers murals, bought the 170-hectare property for $1.5 million from David Marriner in 1987 and then followed it up with his purchase of the Walter Withers painting Allegory to Spring, which the Manifolds had commissioned to hang in the adjoining Purrembete room. Against a background of blossom-laden wattle and peach trees, it depicts a young girl clad in blue and white gossamer garments stirred by the winds of spring, who is moving with swift step past two shorn lambs to the destiny of love, which inevitably awaits her, according to Fanny Withers’ short biography of Walter. The painting cost $190,000 at a 1987 auction at Joel's.

The murals had gained public attention in the late 1980s and again in the early '90s when the two consecutive high-profile owners, David Marriner and Rene Rivkin, tried to strip them from the house.

With its Withers murals still intact, the bluestone homestead was resold by Rivkin in May 1991 for $950,000 and then later during the same recession Rivkin sold the painting at Sotheby's for $66,000. The property sale represented a 36% net loss; the painting, 60%.

Andrew Rice has enjoyed a close association with the Purrumbete property, having been involved in the sale back in 1987. He suggested the latest result would be an enormous injection of confidence for the rural sector.

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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