Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bonus Downs: Mitchell Qld

On the weekend of 22, 23 October 2011, Bonus Downs (located 46 km from Mitchell, and 630 km west of Brisbane) celebrated its centenary -- in style!

Bonus Downs is a cattle property of 13,380 ha that was selected in 1860 and now runs a tourism enterprise as well as cattle. Madonna and Lyle Connolly offer guests the opportunity to see how early pioneers lived and worked. In addition, they share their stand of rare ooline trees: about 80 ha grow at Bonus Downs.

Built in 1911 by innovative pastoralist and philanthropist Sir Samuel McCaughey, the homestead of 60 squares is designed for coolness, comfort and elegance. It's a fine example of Queensland architecture.

The homestead has a long hallway, 14 rooms and wide verandas. There are tasteful furnishings, antiques and memorabilia -- most of which were handed down from Lyle's grandmother.

Restoring the homestead to its original condition was a labour of love for the Connollys. When Lyle and Madonna and their two young children purchased Bonus Downs, in 1990, it was run-down and neglected with peeling paint, rotting stumps and weatherboards, and an overgrown garden. Since then, they've restored the homestead, outbuildings and tennis court, added a pool and created spacious lawns and gardens.

Bonus Downs offers farm stay accommodation in the jackaroo's cottage and shearing shed. Alongside is a large dining hall that is decorated with interesting historical photos, bits and pieces from the past and natural heritage posters. At Bonus Downs, guests receive warm hospitality and a memorable Australian outback experience.

So much happened throughout the weekend of celebrations, that I plan a series of 4 blogs (and lots of photographs) to cover the Centenary Celebrations at Bonus Downs.

The 2 paintings: one is of Bonus Downs and the other is Lyle Connolly.

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