If not for a development application to make changes to an old homestead off the Hume Highway, its significance may never have come to light.
Now, moves to protect the Wingello Park, off the Hume Highway some 15km north of Marulan, are embroiled in a legal tangle.
The owner, John Kahlbetzer of Twynam Pastoral Company, is not only challenging Goulburn Mulwaree Council's refusal of his development application, but also opposing an interim heritage order it successfully sought from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in October.
The ashlar stone and timber homestead was believed to have been built in the early 1830s.
Strategic planning manager Kate Wooll said investigations had shown "clear signs of convict activity, including but not limited to the buildings' layout, construction materials and methods and the presence of a structure that was likely used as a convict lock-up."
"It has also been suggested that the building complex may have featured on a prominent Cobb and Co stagecoach route," Ms Wooll reported.
The investigations by the council's heritage advisor, David Hobbes, only arose after Mr Kahlbetzer lodged a development application last September to demolish the homestead's main living area and make alterations and additions for modern accommodation.
But following an inspection, planning staff believed the structure could be historically significant and enlisted Mr Hobbes' advice. This confirmed its importance and the fact that more information was needed. Mr Hobbes' subsequent report found the complex met the criteria for an interim heritage order.
Ms Wooll said on this basis, planners advised the applicant it did not support the DA and suggested it be withdrawn. Mr Kahlbetzer refused to do so and the council formally rejected the application on November 27.
The same day, he filed a class one action in the NSW Land and Environment Court against the interim heritage order, which had been made on November 1.
The partial sticking point for the council is the fact Wingello Park is not listed as a heritage item on its LEP. Planners acknowlege this isn't protection against demolition in itself, but allows for "fuller consideration" of its significance, retention options and adaptive re-use.
"Based on the legislation, the owner's and representative's advice and previous unauthorised development, it is considered that there is a risk to the dwelling complex and potentially the barn, due to a lack of listing under the LEP," Ms Wooll said.
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The interim heritage order is only valid for six months and buys the council time. But at their most recent meeting, councillors endorsed preparation of a planning proposal to amend the LEP and to nominate Wingello Park for inclusion on the State Heritage Register, making its status more permanent.
A pastoral homestead
Mr Hobbes' preliminary report found that Wingello Park was one of the few extant homesteads between Sutton Forest and Goulburn.
"Many buildings from this era appear to be former inns," he wrote.
"To date it appears that the only pastoral properties with homesteads from this era in the northern part of the (council area) are Glenrock and Wingello Park. Glenrock is far grander. Wingello Park is a more modest example, illustrating settlement during the early expansion south of Sydney."
Research revealed 600 acres of land for the farm known as Wingello was granted to Liverpool magistrate Robert Mackay Campbell in 1824. He married Ann Hassall, the daughter of a well known colonial preacher and landholder, Rowland Hassall, in 1830 and they moved into a dwelling at Wingello Park.
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Surveyor Roberty Hoddle's 1835 sketch of the homestead in the Mitchell Library shows a north facing structure with a high pitched shingled roof and shuttered French windows, along with a separate building to the southeast.
Based on futher sketches, Mr Hobbes believed the homestead had been extended by 1846. A barn was built in 1847 and in 1850, when it was offered for sale, it was described as having a shearing shed, granary, storeroom, a patent wool press, a "mail paddock" used by daily mail coaches and a mounted police station at the entry.
...We struggle to see why the property should now be place under historical orders.John Kahlbetzer
In 1871, Arthursleigh owner Thomas Holt bought the property on a 99-year lease, which changed hands several times including to the Sieler and Osborne families. In about 1983, highly decorated World Two Major General, Paul Cullen purchased it, followed by Mr Kahlbetzer in 2014.
Mr Hobbes also believes Wingello Park is associated with the Wingello Stockade, established in 1834 for convicts.
He described the building as being in fair condition with extensive cracking in walls, lifting stone flagging, rusted roof sheeting and sections of the ceiling missing. While it was mostly intact, Mr Hobbes found there were some unoriginal elements but its "form, layout and materials (were) highly readable."
"...The age and degree of intactness of the buildings which date from the early period of settlement in the area make the complex likely to be relatively rare."
But Mr Kahlbetzer doesn't see it the same way. He told The Post the parties disagreed on one section of the homestead which he believed was not historically significant, was in poor structural condition and which he wanted to demolish.
"There are two sections that we believe are of historical relevance and are planned to be kept in their current external state and on which we have spent significant monies in maintaining," he said.
"Considering that the homestead has previously had a DA approved, with substantial modifications (which was not proceeded with) we struggle to see why the property should now be place under historical orders.
"We await to see evidence from the council on the historical merits of the building in dispute."
The council's planning and environment director, Scott Martin, hoped the planning proposal would be relatively straightforward, given it was a heritage assessment. However, it and any State heritage order would have to be publicly exhibited.
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