Right: Lanyon Homestead lies at the foot of the Brindabella Ranges near Tharwa, south of Canberra. It is one of Australia’s premier historic properties. The precinct’s centrepiece, the 1859 homestead, has been beautifully restored and furnished.
Convicts were assigned from Sydney to work on the property in return for rations, clothing and wooden huts to live in. With the help of this labour James established a home farm to provide food, built a small house, and a kitchen and barn both of which still stand today.
Left & below left: Lanyon kitchen circa 1830s. Kitchens were commonly in a separate building to prevent kitchen fires from damaging the main house. This kitchen also contains a room in which the cook lived, and an underground cold store.
Right: the convict-built barn.
Squatters grazed the area prior to the land being granted to James Wright and John Lanyon in 1834. At that time, the journey from Sydney took several weeks by bullock wagon over rough tracks. As well as fine grazing land, the property had river frontage to the Murrumbidgee so water was no problem.
Left: view down to the Murrumbidgee River from the main entrance.
Andrew and Jane Cunningham bought Lanyon in 1849. They built a new homestead which faced north towards the realigned driveway (top of this page) and the gardens were extended to surround the house (right).
The Cunninghams and their descendents occupied the property for more than 70 years. It changed hands a couple of times after that before being compulsorily acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1971, as was all land inside the boundaries of the new Australian Capital Territory (there is no freehold land in the ACT, it is held by owners through 99 year leases).
The Government wanted to demolish the property on the grounds that the land may have been needed one day for suburban housing. Fortunately this was averted and the property opened to the public in 1975 as an historic place. Parts of it are still leased for farming.
Above: front verandah.
Left & below: rear courtyard.
Below right: 1940s machinery shed and dairy with the Brindabella Ranges behind.