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Place: Warlaby Place No.

- 76

Type: Farm Complex - homestead and outbuildings


Location: 395 Oaklands Road, Oaklands Junction.
Critical Date(s): Constructed:- c.mid nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries.
Historic Theme(s): 'First Settlement'; 'The Land: Producing'; 'The Landscape: Perceptions and
Transformations'.
Previous Heritage Registration(s): None.
Recommended Level of Significance: State

Statement of Significance:

Warlaby is of State level heritage significance for the evidence of its use as a highly
significant short-horn cattle stud (probably dating from the 1850s or early 60s) in the nineteenth
century, and as a major racehorse stud in the mid twentieth century (probably dating
substantially to the 1930s and 40s). It also retains an extensive, reasonably intact and
significant farm complex of the early to mid twentieth century.
By 1863, but perhaps considerably earlier, Warlaby was established as a cattle stud by
Robert McDougall, famous for his herd of 'Booth' strain short-horn cattle. McDougall compiled
Victoria's first Shorthorn Herd book, was briefly a Member of the Legislative Assembly, and
was active in the Port Phillip Farming Society and the National Agricultural Society. Warlaby
was almost certainly named after the Booth stud in Durham, England of the same name. It
designates the property's association with this famous nineteenth strain of short-horn cattle, and
McDougall's proud status as Victoria's primary breeder of the strain in its pure form.
It is not known whether Warlaby was ever McDougall's main home (from c.1870 his
home was Arundel in Keilor), but the large bluestone bull-pen which remains on the site
constitutes solid evidence of Warlaby's use for stud purposes. It is not known whether any
comparable structures remain in Victoria, but presumably the pen constitutes rare evidence of
an early type of structure; it also commemorates the dominant role played by Victorian stud-
masters in supplying cattle for the expanding pastoral frontiers of New South Wales and
Queensland, especially during the 1870s, and in laying the foundations of Australia's later meat
export industry.
The property is also historically significant for its ownership, between c.1932 and 1957,
by EA Underwood, renowned racehorse breeder, owner and racing administrator. Like his
father Underwood was prominent within the Williamstown Racing Club, and the Underwoods
were leading racehorse owners in Australia. Caulfield's 'Underwood Stakes' commemorates
their distinguished role in the racing industry. Warlaby was EA Underwood's stud, and also a
training property. Amongst its vast stable of stud horses were 'Helios', which had been trained
by King George V, and which sired Underwood's 1953 Melbourne Cup winner 'Wodalla', and
'Landau', which Underwood had purchased from Queen Elizabeth II. During one of her early
visits to Melbourne, the Queen went to Warlaby to see 'Landau'. Underwood's use of
McDougall's bluestone bull-pen as a stable is evident in conversions to the stalls and some outer
walls.
Warlaby is also significant for the quantity and variety of its buildings and works
associated with the operation of a large early-mid twentieth horse-stud and farm. These include
the remains of timber lunges and yards; a remarkably intact precinct of racehorse stalls, some
retaining horse nameplates; extensive housing, ranging from detached bungalows for principal
employees to barrack style 'mens quarters'; farm sheds which retain lineshafting and equipment
associated with chaff and dairy operations; a ventilated 'meat-safe' outbuilding; and various
stone walls, fences and plantings of interest.
The Warlaby homestead, thoroughly remodelled and extended over the decades, may
incorporate at its core the remains of an original or early bluestone dwelling. The front of the
homestead retains a now rare example of the substantial drystone fences which were once
features of the district. The front garden also includes a mature weeping elm which is thought
by the current owners to be uncommonly old, and some Alister Clark roses, significant in
themselves, and evidence of the property's historical links to the Glenara coterie.
Warlaby is also significant to horse aficionados for its ownership by Alexander
McDougall, the first Master of the Oaklands Hunt Club (1888-1900), who established the Club's
first hound kennels at Warlaby c.1888, and Noel Mason, a well known identity in hunting
circles in the 1950s. The present property also incorporates the 'Branagan's Ruin' (qv.) heritage
site.

Description:

The bull-pen is in the centre of a fenced farm precinct to the west of the homestead. It
would appear to be a very old building, perhaps as early as 1850s, and its bluestone walls have
developed substantial cracks. It consists of two parallel rows having 10 bluestone pens each.
The space between the pens has well-built and high bluestone walls at either end, capped by
rounded coping stones, with centrally placed timber gates at both ends. This northern wall is
bearing outwards, and parts have collapsed.
The row of pens on the eastern side of the courtyard is more intact, with a hipped slate
roof (in need of repair). Its interor pens retain the bluestone partitions, about 1.3 metres high;
some have timber or wire mesh above this level. The doors of this row face outside the
courtyard. Its inner wall has bluestone buttresses, and ventilation slots splayed inwards in the
manner which was common in very early houses and barns in the district. Both the eastern and
the western rows have buttresses on their rear walls. These have not prevented some significant
cracking in the walls of the eastern row. The eastern row also has a chimney in its centre, and
retains the remains of whitewash. Some of the stone arch doorways have had arched metal
lintels added. The floors are partly of cobblestone, partly of brick.
The westernmost row of pens has been more extensively modified for conversion to
stables, with the side facing the internal courtyard converted almost entirely to timber walls and
doors. Similarly, most of the internal partitions are now timber. Its bluestone outer, or western
face has only one opening. Its slate roof has been replaced by corrugated AC sheeting.
At the south end of the pens are three underground tanks. One has a metal cover on
which is embossed the words 'John Bellamy, Bying Street, Millwall, London'.
Immediately to the east of the pens, presumably to facilitate access to the horses which
were later stabled there, are the remains of 3 circular lunging rings. One of these timber
structures is in reasonable condition.
On the west side of the bull-pen/stable is a large complex of corrugated iron farm
buildings. They include a hayshed and chaff room, and a milking shed, cream room and store
room. Most of the buildings and the cattle walkways to the west have concrete floors. There
are associated paved yards with timber and iron corrals.
There is a cobblestone road leading to the complex. There is no shearing shed and the
current owner advises that the sheep were taken to Tulloch for shearing.
The farm buildings retain some machinery and plant, which is uncommon, including a
chaff cutter and concrete chaff bin. There is also some now-uncommon evidence of line
shafting, which once transfered power from an electric engine to the chaff cutter and cream
separators. There is also an old double action pump to move well water to the house.
Around the bull-pen and farm buildings are quarters for workers. These comprise
barrack style quarters for workers, and bungalows for the farm and stud managers and their
families, and for the cook. Immediately to the north of the bull-pen is a derelict timber framed,
two-roomed weatherboard hut with brick chimney, which was apparently accommodated two
men. This would appear to have been the two-roomed mens quarters listed in the 1915 probate
description of the property. To the south-west is the large mens quarters, which comprised 16
bedrooms and lounge and laundry. It has corrugated iron walls, plaster interior, corrugated
fibre-cement roof, four sash windows, and a brick chimney.
The weatherboard bungalow in best repair has a gable roof clad in corrugated iron. It is
painted green to match the stables installed by Underwood. The second bungalow appears to
have been built in the 1920s, or perhaps 30s. It is timber framed, weatherboard to sill level,
with fibro-cement sheeting to eaves. It has a gable-hipped roof of corrugated iron, and some
prominent hoods with timber brackets on one side, with a verandah on the other.
The former 'Cooks House' has a timber frame with weatherboard lining, with a double
gable roof and skillion verandah, both lined with corrugated iron. A long 'dining room' has been
added at the rear of house. One brick chimney is located in the valley of two roofs. There is
another smaller addition on the north side of the building.
Of particular significance is a meat cool-room situated behind the dining-room. It is in
some disrepair but retains some hessian and wire netting, and its distinctive frame and
appearance is intact.
The current owner believes that there were about 35 men working the property when
Noel Mason took over the property from Underwood in the 1950s. There was once a small
store in the farm complex, which was described as having been like a little village.
To the east of this farm precinct there is a precinct of stables which is also associated
with EA Underwood's occupation. The precinct comprises a quadrangle enclosed by original
fences, in part a drystone wall, and in part a timber post, tubular steel and wire fence with a
picket gate. In the centre of the quadrangle is a timber corral, and a few remains of a timber
lunge. Also set in the ground in this area is what appears to be the stone footprint of some
former structure or structures:- a long rectangular outline of stones, with a stone ring at its south
end.
Around this area are stable buildings and what appears to have been an office and
perhaps also accommodation. On the eastern side is a three stall stable building which Warlaby
oral tradition suggests was removed from the former Williamstown Racecourse aroung 1940
(which date may fit the demise of the Williamstown Club). Two of the stalls have horse name-
plates - 'Robber Prince', and 'Stanley Sterling'. On the opposite (west) side are five stable
buildings of timber and corrugated iron. These mostly contain three stalls each. Their walls are
painted cream, and the roofs and doors dark green. At north end of the quadrangle is a small
office/cottage building in the same materials and colours. It has two rooms and a verandah, and
has been kept in good condition.
The main homestead encompasses an old (perhaps 1850s or 60s) bluestone section in its
centre. This was discovered by the present owners in the course of renovations. The remainder
of the house has been added, probably over a long period. Stylistically it appears to be
associated with the 1930s (with later alterations and additions), which matches the Underwood
era.
The impressive dry-stone wall around front and side of homestead is said by the owners
to be in some disrepair due to ground movement and other problems. A mature and scarce
'Weeping Elm' tree is said to be extremely old, and to have been moved to the present site for an
extraordinarily high price. There are also some Alister Clark roses in the driveway. The pine
plantation possibly predates Underwood, who planted sugar gums windbreaks.

History:

The original 640 acres on which Warlaby was established - Section 11 of the Parish of
Bulla Bulla - was first acquired by J.Cameron in May 1849. Cameron is said to have lived in
the Geelong district, but in the early 1850s he granted part of his land to the Bulla community,
for use as the site of a school.1 The person who acted on Cameron's behalf in the undertaking of
this conveyance was apparently a Mr. McDougall of Glenroy, Moonee Ponds,2 who
subsequently became the owner of Section 11. It is quite possible then that McDougall was
renting the property from Cameron by this time. Isaac Batey records that John Cameron called
his property Sober Mary but 'when Robert McDougall became its owner he renamed it
Warlaby.'3 Although possible, it is probably less likely that he built the large bull-pen before he
owned the property.
Robert McDougall was born in Scotland in 1813, and came to Port Phillip in 1842. As
station manager for the Learmonths shorthorn herd at Ercildoun in the Western District, he
learnt much about cattle breeding, and began to build up a shorthorn herd of his own. In 1848
he rented part of the Glenroy estate, making the breeding of shorthorn cattle his speciality. He
remained on the Glenroy estate for 14 years, was on Aitken's estate, Saltwater River, for some
years and then in 1868 bought the Arundel estate in Keilor, where he lived from c.1870.
McDougall appears to have resided at Arundel from this time; in 1885 he was listed as living at
Keilor.4 He married a Miss Rankin and had a family of one son and 5 daughters.5
McDougall's development of a fine herd of shorthorn played an important part in the
expansion of the beef cattle industry. Margaret Kiddle records that by the 1850s and 60s
McDougall was known as one of the leading breeders of shorthorn, and the chief representative
of the pure 'Booth' strain of the breed. 'By 1870' says Kiddle, 'he was quoted with something of
the reverence usually accorded an oracle.'6 McDougall has also been described as a severe and
somewhat inflexible character who spiced his public utterances with 'scriptural references and
moral injunction', and as a 'fine Gaelic scholar and a relentless Presbyterian'.7 It is not
surprising that such a character was a leading antagonist among Victoria's shorthorn devotees,
described by Kiddle as a 'collection of tough-visaged male prima donnas each with his own pet
obsession'.8 It lead him into acrimonious rivalry with a fellow Scot, the formidable Neil Black
of Glenormiston near Terang, who favoured the alternative 'Bates' strain of the shorthorn breed.
McDougall favoured the Booth strain over the more stylish Bates strain because it was more
hardy and suitable to colonial conditions. Kiddle recounts in detail an incident, emanating from
McDougall's and Black's mutual antagonism, which became legend in the Shorthorn world.9
Regardless of the jealousies which inevitably arose amongst Victoria's competing
shorthorn breeders, together they developed a breed of cattle equal to any in the world, and

1 JAS Broughton and NF Walters, 'A General Survey of the Early Settlement and Architecture along
the Maribyrnong between Bulla and Keilor', Melbourne University Architecture Thesis, 1963 (no
pagination).
2 Broughton & Walter, op cit.
3 Sunbury News, 3 September 1910, p.2
4 Roll of Ratepaying Electors, 1885, Southern Province - Broadmeadows and Bulla Division.
McDougall's address is given as P.O. Keilor.
5 Biographical information comes from a number of sources, which contain some slightly conflicting
dates and other incidental information. They include:- GR Quaife's entry on McDougall in Pike,
D (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, 1851-1890, (MUP, Melbourne, 1984 ed)
p.150; A. Sutherland (ed.), Victoria and its Metropolis: Past and Present, (McCarron, Bird and
Co., Melbourne, 1888), p.430.
6 Kiddle, M, Men of Yesterday: A Social History of the Western District of Victoria, 1834-1890
(MUP, Melbourne, 1983), p. 391.
7 Quaife, loc. cit.
8 Kiddle, op cit, p. 388.
9 ibid, pp. 393, 395-7.
unequalled in Australia until at least the 1880s. Cattle were favoured in the initial settlement of
rough country, as it was believed that they would eat the grass down and leave it fit for sheep.
Other areas were simply unsuitable for sheep. Victoria's shorhorn cattle became particularly
profitable in the 1870s, as the constant demand from Queensland and New South Wales for
bulls and cattle combined with an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in England, forcing new
settlers to stock-up from Victoria's studs. Victoria's shorthorn (primarily from the Western
District) was almost entirely responsible for stocking the new country opened in the north.10
McDougall would also have shared in the startling prices paid for shorthorn bulls in the 1870s.
By 1880 a new market was opening, as the long endeavours to export a shipment of
frozen beef finally met with success. The day of the great prize bulls had passed, but the new
export industry multiplied cattle sales. While most of the subsequent frozen beef exports came
from Queensland, it was the magnificent beasts which had originally been bred in Victoria
which were among the fundamental factors making for the success of the frozen meat trade.11
McDougall had purchased the Warlaby site from Cameron by 1863, at which date (and
thereafter until his death), the earliest Shire of Bulla ratebook shows him as the owner of this
640 acres of land.12 He twice went to England - around 1860 and 1869 according to one account
- buying and importing only the 'Booth' strain of short-horn cattle; this strain was bred by the
Booth family on their property Warlaby in Durham, England.13 There can be little doubt then
that the Bulla property was named Warlaby after the Booths' stud, probably to reinforce
McDougall's status as the primary breeder of the pure Booth strain in Victoria (and perhaps
Australia).
Robert McDougall died in 1887, and his probate papers provide detailed descriptions of
his properties at that time, including the 640 acre Warlaby:-
'About 400 acres of this property are good agricultural land of which about 300 acres
would be level enough to plough, the balance of the property is fair grazing land. There
is a 4 roomed cottage in fair order and some very good stone buildings built for feeding
sheds and stud cattle.'14
The stone buildings referred to would have included the bull-pen.
A May 1888 supplement to the probate papers indicates states that the proceeds of the
sale of the property known as Warlaby was £9000. However the Bulla Shire ratebooks show
that McDougall's son Alexander owned the property until the turn of the century; perhaps he
had been required to purchase it from the estate.15 (Interestingly the name Warlaby is not noted
until the 1893/94 ratebook entry, though Batey indicates that it was in use well before then.)
Through Alexander McDougall's ownership of the property, Warlaby also became
closely associated with the Oaklands Hunt Club. McDougall was the first Master of Fox
Hounds for the Oaklands Hunt Club from 1888 to 1900, and it was on some land at Warlaby
that the first kennels were established from about 1888 to late 1889.16
In early 1901, Alexander McDougall left the district with which he had been associated
for a number of years; apart from being Master of the Oaklands Hounds, he had also been a
representative of the East Riding of the Bulla Shire Council for many years, on several
occasions holding the office of President; with those achievements he was locally 'held in the
highest esteem'.17
The next owner of the Warlaby property was Maurice Quinlan, who bought it in about
late 1900. Little is known of him other than that he described himself as a 'grazier'. Shortly
after his purchase of Warlaby he leased it out for a few years, and also acquired the Lochton
estate (qv), and leased a great deal of land in the district including the Oaklands estate (qv).18

10 ibid, pp. 386, 394.


11 ibid, p.400
12 Shire of Bulla, Ratebooks, 1863-1888.
13 Information from Judith Faulds, who has researched McDougall.
14 PROV, VPRS 28/P2, Unit 224, Probate papers for Robert McDougall, September 1887.
15 Ratebooks, op cit, 1887-1901. Alexander is shown as the executor of his father's estate in 1887/8.
16 Cameron-Kennedy, DF, The Oaklands Hunt, 1888-1988: A Chronicle of Events, (self published,
1989, Melbourne), p.22, 29.
17 Sunbury News, 2 February 1901, p.2.
18 Ratebooks, Shire of Bulla, op cit.
In 1915 he applied for permission to erect telephone poles from the Red Hill to 'my property,
Warlaby'.19
Quinlan died in 1918, and probate papers indicate that his property then consisted of the
648 acre Warlaby property; an adjacent 235 acres stretching down to Deep Creek on the west,
on which was located a 'very old wooden dwelling, wooden stable and wooden sheds, all
unoccupied' (perhaps the former Branagan property); and 731 acres immediately north of the
township of Kalkallo (not in the study area), on which were located two small huts occupied by
Quinlan at the date of his death. The Warlaby property is described as having:- a 5 roomed
weatherboard dwelling (with bath, pantry and kitchen); a 2 roomed mens ...[hut?]; a bluestone
building having 10 stalls; weatherboard pig pens; 4 pen milking shed; and an iron and wood
machinery shed. His eldest son Laurence was the Warlaby farm manager at the time.20
E.A. (Ted) Underwood, 'renowned breeder, owner and racing administrator,'21and
trainer of thoroughbred racehorses, owned the property from c.1932 to 1957. Underwood's
Warlaby became one of Victoria's leading studs for many years after the Second World War.
Ted Underwood and his father HA Underwood, prominent in the former Williamstown Racing
Club, are commemorated in Caulfield's 'Underwood Stakes'. The Underwood's have been
described as 'perhaps Australia's leading racehorse owners' of the period.22 Ted was also a Vice
Chairman of the VRC. Bob Sinclair was Underwood's trainer for 60 years; Warlaby's other
managers included the local Fitzgerald brothers, Jim, the studmaster, and Felix, who was in
charge of the farm. Among the horses stabled there were 'Landau', purchased from Queen
Elizabeth (for more than £26,00023), 'Helios', 'Dhoti' (Victoria's top stallions, both of which are
buried on the property), 'Comic Court', 'Kings Offer' and 'Masthead'. 'Helios', bred by King
George VI, sired 1953 Melbourne Cup winner 'Wodalla'.24 When the stud closed in the late
1950s some of the horses, including 'Landau', were transferred to the large Stockwell stud at
Diggers Rest. The Queen visited 'Landau' at Warlaby on one of her 1950s visits to
Melbourne.25 Ted Underwood's stable also included two Caulfield Cup winners.
Warlaby retains a quadrangle of stables associated with this period. Some of the
stalls retain the nameplates of some of their more notable former occupants. There are also
the timber lunges and stone footprints of what appears to have been earlier yards or lunge-
rings in the quadrangle.
Warlaby's next owner, Noel Mason, arrived with his family in 1957. Mason was
himself a very well-known identity in Melbourne hunting and riding circles. When he arrived
the property is thought to have been around 4000 acres in area, and carried some 500
thoroughbred racehorses. The property employed about 35 men, and in addition to the workers
houses and quarters, a little store added to its village character. The property's stables have been
used as a settings for several television advertisements.26 The property is now in the ownership
of Mason's daughter and son-in-law.

Recommendations:

It is recommended that the Warlaby complex, including trees and outbuildings, be


included in the Heritage Overlay of the Hume Planning Scheme.

19 Uncatalogued letter, 28/7/1915, George Evans Museum.


20 PROV, VPRS 28/P3, Unit 845, Record 158 of Series 159, Probate papers for Maurice Quinlan.
21 Cavanough, M, The Caulfield Cup, (Jack Pollard, North Sydney, 1976), p.402.
22 Bernstein, DC, First Tuesday in November, (William Heinemann, Melbourne, 1969), p 190.
23 Pacini, J, A Century Galloped By: The First One Hundred Years of the Victoria Racing Club
(VRC, Melbourne, 1988), pp.403-404
24 Cavanough, M, The Melbourne Cup 1861-1982 (Lloyd O'Neil, South Yarra, Ninth Edition 1983),
p.287
25 Pacini, op cit, p.p 392-3; Mrs Fitzgerald, who was living at the property with her husband Jim, the
Warlaby stud-master, pers. conv.; and Mrs Cust, present owner, pers. conversation.
26 Mrs Cust, pers. conv.
The meat cool-room behind the cook's house and dining room.

The Warlaby homestead.


Part of the stables compound.

The milking shed.