About Bellevue


Bellevue (which part(s)?) is one of Queensland’s oldest buildings.

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Bellevue’s Beginning

April 4, 1843

Wivenhoe Run (sheep station) is established on 38,000 acres by the Brisbane River. ‘Bellevue’ is just a slab hut occupied by Ferriter and Edmund Uhr.

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The Norths Lease Bellevue

January 1, 1859

After John Uhr’s death in 1858, Ownership of Wivenhoe run (including Bellevue slab hut) is transferred to Major William North and his son Joseph, from Fairney Lawn, Ireland. The Norths establish Bellevue Station as a 2,000 hectare sheep-run.

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Family Residence Added

May 24, 1860

The four bedroom family residence was built in the 1860s, making it the first wing of Bellevue.

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Wivenhoe Run Split

October 9, 1868

Wivenhoe run was resumed, thrown open to selection and leased, but the North family retained the Bellevue sheep run and its buildings (about 1202 acres). Two years later, this sheep run became a cattle run (1870s).

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Bellevue Homestead is located opposite the railway station in Coominya, close to the original entrance to the property. It consists of three interconnected dwellings and attached service wing and separate farm buildings. The main house and guest house face northeast and are encircled by verandahs, with a spine of kitche, stores and servants’ hall attached at right angles, forming a T-shaped plan. A cottage, previously a school house and governess’ residence, is attached on the south-east forming a southern courtyard, and a row of stables and barn are located on the southwest. All buildings are single-storeyed and sit on timber stumps.

The original building was a Slab Hut which has been retained as the old kitchen in the service wing. The main Family Home and Governess’s Quarters were built in ‘Colonial style’ around 1868-1870. The plan of the Family Home consists of four rooms with a central hall. The end verandahs have been enclosed to expand the rooms through large archways, the northwest being enclosed with very wide chamferboards. Some rooms show different layers of the building’s fabric, including pit sawn framing with mortice and tenon joints and hand finished lining boards. Decorative features include painted woodgrain in the hall, hand painted wall paper, pressed metal ceilings in the drawing room, carved timber fireplace surrounds, casement windows (some of which have coloured glass inserts), step out bays and pressed metal window hoods. Timber shingles are visible under the corrugated iron sheeting. This house has projecting gable porches to the southwest and northeast entrances with decorative timber barge boards, trusses and finials that were added when the guest house was built.

The attached 1903-4 Federation style guest house has a projecting gable porch to the northeast with decorative timber arch brackets, barge board, finial and diagonally boarded gable (the ‘Risiing Sun’ symbol of Australia). The verandahs have dowel balustrade, lattice valance and timber arch brackets. The plan consists of a dining room, a smoking room and a two-roomed guest suite. These are accessed from an enclosed verandah entrance hall with entrance doors at both ends with sidelights and fanlights of etched ruby glass. The dining room has a metal lined wine store cupboard and fretwork ceiling rose. The walls are panelled with cedar and silky oak to a dado with vertically jointed Queensland Pine boards above and on the ceiling. The tiled fireplace has a carved timber surround, and all timber is oiled/stained. All rooms have step out bays with timber shutters and internal doors have fanlights.

The service wing conists of weather-boarded kitchen, store and servants’ hall. The kitchen has a corrugated iron gable roof with a verandah to the courtyard and three pressed metal ridge ventilators. Timber shingles are visible under the corrugated iron sheeting and the interior has single skin cedar board walls and a large brick fireplace. A modern kitchen has been installed in one room.

On the other side of the courtyard facing the service wing, the Governess’s cottage has an L-shaped plan and consists of a series of rooms added at different times. The weatherboard building has a corrugated iron gable roof with a bay to the northwest, surmounted by a gable, and verandahs northeast and northwest.

A row of weatherboard stables with corrugated iron gable roofs is located to the southwest. The stables have sawn cross cut timber and earth floors.

The grounds include a circular drive with gardens to the north, overlooking a private dam beyond.

(Queensland Heritage Register).

Expanded History

The earliest sections of Bellevue Homestead date from the 1840s. Intially Bellevue was part of the Wivenhoe run, taken up by Ferriter and Uhr in the early 1840s, then transferred to the Norths of Fairney Lawn in 1858. Soon after acquiring Wivenhoe, William North Snr established a 2,000 hectare section as Bellevue Station, on which he ran sheep. In 1869 half of the Wivenhoe run was resumed and thrown open to selection. Those portions containing the Bellevue lands and buildings were retained by the Norths under pre-emption selection rights. The older parts of the present homestead were most likely constructed around the time the North family transferred the Bellevue leasehold to Campbell and Hay in 1872. In the 1870s sheep gave way to cattle. The leasehold was converted to freehold in 1879, and in 1884 was acquired by James Taylor, MLC, whose son, George Condamine Taylor, and his family, occupied the homestead until 1953. During the Taylors’ occupancy a flood in the Brisbane River in 1893 destroyed the adobe walls of the timber-framed house, which was re-clad with mill-sawn timber. George Taylor died in 1899, but his widow, Edith Maud, remained at Bellevue and in 1901 married pastoralist Charles Lumley Hill, MLA.

In 1903-04 the Lumley Hills extended the homestead, adding a new dining room, guest suite, and servants quarters. Earlier sections of the house were renovated also. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Bellevue was the social centre of the district. At its peak, c.1910, the station comprised over 14,000 acres, with a Hereford stud of national renown. In the 1970s Bellevue was resumed by the Coordinator General, as part of the Wivenhoe Dam project. In 1975 the homestead and associated buildings were acquired by the National Trust of Queensland, and between 1975 and 1980 were romved to nearby Coominya township, established in 1905 on part of the Bellevue selection. The trust restored the complex to its 1904-1910 appearance.

(Queensland Heritage Register).

Coominya Township

The name Coominya means ‘in view of water’, and is a corruption of the Yugarabul Aboriginal word Kung-i-nya from Kung meaning water and nya meaning to see. The name of the railway station, town and post office was adopted because of the swaps and lagoons in the neighbourhood. Coominya, situated midway between the towns of Esk and Lowood and quickly accessible form the Brisbane Valley Highway, has developed a reputation for its turn-of-the-century buildings, including the famous Bellevue Homestead beatifully restored by the National Turst of Queensland. The town inclues the histroic Bellevue hotel, Blue Teapot cafe, preserved railway station, post office, fire station, and the delightful Catholic and Presbyterian churches. Edith Maud Park picnic facilities, opposite the railway station, is named after Mrs Lumley Hill and is jointly operated by Bellevue Homestead and the Esk Shire Council. The Lowood-Esk section of the Brisbane Valley Branch Railway (35 kilometres) was opened on August 9, 1886, and a railway station named Bellevue was opened on this section the same day.

This station mainly served Bellevue Homestead whichw as some eight kilometres away to the north-east (the entrance gates to the Bellevue property were opposite the railway station). A Bellevue Station receiving office opened at the homestead in 1889, and a Bellevue Railway Station receiving office opened at the railway station in 1890. In August, 1905 Mr Charles Lumley Hill, owner of Bellevue, asked that the name of the railway station be changed to Coominya because of confusion with his property. The post office and railway station names were changed to Coominya in October 1905.

(Esk Shire Council).

The Brisbane Valley

The major holdings in the Brisbane Valley were selected in 1841 and 1842. Cressbrook (240 sq ml), Colinton (336,000 ac), Durundur (200 sq ml), Mount Brisbane and Mount Esk (45,900 ac), Fairney Lawn, Eskdale (18,840 ac), Buaraba (32,000 ac), Kilcoy (35,000 ac), Wivenhoe (60 sq ml), Taromeo (64,000 ac), Crows Nest (500 ac), Mount Stanley (94 sq ml), Tarampa (39,000 ac).

The squatters who took up these leases were mostly wealthy and often aristocratic families from England (eg. the Archers, the McConnells, the Balfours, the Biggs, the Borthwicks, the Norths, the Taylors, and the Lumley Hills). In the 1840s, 50s, and 60s there were influxes of German migrants escaping from their homelands and the government resumed and subdivided half of the pastoral properties into smaller lots which were sold for more intensive agricultural production.

The Brisbane Valley has always been a productive area (sheep and wool, cattle and beef, dairy cattle and milk products, pigs, cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, lucerne, orchard crops, grapes, root crops, fresh vegetables and timber). The need to get produce to the Brisbane markets prompted the development of roads and the railway from Ipswich to Yarraman.

In addition to Bellevue Homestead and other heritage buildings, remnants from the early stock routes, mail and coach runs, railways, timber trackers, and vineyards can be found using the Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails website. The railway line, which passes the entrance of Bellevue Homestead, is being redeveloped for walking, cycling, and riding by the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail project. The ‘Coominya section’ of the rail trail was opened on 15 November 2008.

(Based on information from R.S.Kerr (1988) Confidence and Tradition. A History of the Esk Shire).