Historic Oakabella property goes on the market

By Belinda Hickman
December 26 2021 - 11:00am
The historical Oakabella homestead has retained it original features, fixtures and furnishings, including the front verandah and stone walled garden, which provide a perfect spot to spend a lazy afternoon.

GREG Jackson is closing a chapter on 111 years of family history with the sale of the historic Oakabella, at Bowes.

And it is a history written large.

Advertisement

Ad

The property still has its original buildings, including its 1850s homestead, walled garden, kitchen outbuilding, original three-stand, long board shearing shed, blacksmiths and stables and huge collection of artefacts, which all bring its past to life.

Mr Jackson grew up on the property and said it was a great place to live - despite its past reputation as WA's most haunted building.

"We lived in the main homestead for quite a few years,'' Mr Jackson said.

"It was a great place to grow up as a boy, riding motorbikes all the time.

"The front lawn of the homestead was always my favourite place - it had a verandah with a lawn and a low stone wall and big gum trees.

"It looks out over the hill and was always a nice spot.''

The original long board, three stand shearing shed pre-dates the homestead and offers a sense of stepping back in time.

Selling agent, Elders real estate specialist Courtney Keeffe said the original features and artefacts of furniture and equipment on hand at Oakabella would be hard to replicate elsewhere in WA.

"It has provenance,'' Mr Keeffe said.

"The shearing shed, which is older than the homestead, still has the stencil marks on the wall and its original equipment.

"It's like you have stepped back in time."

The original kitchen, which also still stands, was built about 20 metres away from the homestead and had an attached quarters to house the cook.

"That is amazing to walk into,'' Mr Keeffe said.

"It is a beautiful property.

The original kitchen, which also still stands, was built about 20 metres away from the homestead and had an attached quarters to accommodate the cook.

"And I am pretty excited to be selling it.''

The original 20,230 hectare (50,000 acres) Oakabella pastoral lease was taken up by James Drummond in the mid-1850 - the homestead was built 10 years before the development of its closest neighbouring town of Northampton, 480 kilometres from Perth and less than three decades after the Swan River colony was established.

Advertisement

Ad

Drummond's holding passed through a couple of new owners and back to the government and since the early 1900s has been sub-divided and had parcels sold off.

In 1910, Mr Jackson's great, great grandparents, who had migrated from South Australia, bought 4047 hectares to run as a wheat and sheep farm around and including the Oakabella homestead precinct, after their family outgrew their farm at Coronation Beach.

Through the next four generations the Jackson family retained the land-holding on which all the original farm buildings stood - which now comprises 438.85 hectares (about 1000ac), which Mr Jackson inherited through his father Alan.

A new chapter opens for Oakabella
The 13-room homestead presents much like it was in the late 1800s. It is furnished with original furniture and artefacts which will stay with the property after the sale.

The long, 13-room, four-bedroom homestead - which had, until recently, been lived in continuously since its construction - is widely recognised for its historic significance and in 2020 was listed on the Heritage Council of WA's Register of Significant Buildings and is also a site of Aboriginal significance.

Advertisement

Ad

The west end of the shearing shed, which still houses much original equipment, was originally used as stables for race horses and horse breeding for the Indian Raj.

Mr Keeffe said in addition to its historic value, the property represented a prime agricultural and tourism business opportunity which new owners could improve.

It is ideally located between Geraldton and Northampton, just nine kilometres north of the Oakajee Industrial Estate and its proposed deep water port.

For farmers, it offers about 242ha of highly productive strong and medium loams which are well suited to cereal, legume and oilseed production as well as livestock.

Farming infrastructure includes a three bay machinery shed, large lock-up shed (with a coolroom and butchering facility) and a modern four stand shearing shed and yards.

A new chapter opens for Oakabella

Advertisement

Ad

Water is sourced from the creek line near the homestead and pumped by windmill.

The balance of the land is made up of rolling hills and creek lines, with extensive areas of remnant native vegetation, rock formations and winter waterfalls.

"It is beautiful,'' Mr Keeffe said.

On the tourism side, for the past 15 years, the Oakabella Homestead Tea Rooms, tours, a small museum and a winter camping ground operated in and around the historic precinct.

On a weekend, the business regularly hosted 30-40 people for tea and tours and up to 20 caravans per night camped at the grounds.

"They used to light the fire every night, sit around and have drinks,'' Mr Jackson said.

Advertisement

Ad

However, the tourism ventures have been closed since April, due to damage caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

The homestead lost some of its roof, Mr Jackson said it remained structurally sound.

"The garden walls, the verandahs are still intact... repairing it is all very do-able,'' he said.

"The tourism opportunity is still there and it could grow.''

Over time, new owners would be able to repair the cyclone damage, capitalise on the huge store of equipment and artefacts that are to remain and restore the precinct to its former glory.

"Everything here is original to the property, nothing has been brought in as a prop,'' Mr Jackson said.

Advertisement

Ad

"I don't think there would be too many places around that would have the memorabilia that we have got there.''

With the Jackson family custodianship running its course, Mr Jackson said it was time for new owners to put their stamp on the historic location.

"The family has decided it is time to move on, but we are really looking forward to following the progress of its journey,'' he said.

Oakabella is being sold via offers to purchase closing on Friday, January 21, if not sold prior.

  • More information: Contact Elders real estate specialist Courtney Keeffe on 0429 625 007.

Want weekly news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Farm Weekly newsletter.

Advertisement

Ad

Get the latest Western Australia news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.