Australian Homestead: Markdale…… endings and beginnings…

Markdale, a historic Australian homestead, has been in the same family for three generations.

Set in the rolling green hills around Crookwell, New South Wales, this sheep and cattle property was bought in 1920, by Mr James Ashton, a parliamentary member for Goulburn 1901-1908.

”our family have been living and working on this property since the 1920s.” said Mary Ashton.

The Shearer by Rix Wright

Today the house and garden are open because the property has been sold and there is to be an auction of the all contents of the house on Sunday.

We have come to look at the garden, designed by a pioneer of Australian landscape design, Edna Walling.

However, it is tempting to look inside the elegant homestead, with high ceilings, sitting rooms and a dining room, all filled with antiques, books and art.

Each room is decorated with original pieces of antique furniture…..

It is truly ”the end of an era” sale, right down to fur coats and a beautiful 1920s wedding dress…

Upstairs is a large room probably used as a playroom, or a school room. Many children on remote farms traditionally had a tutor or governess until they went on to boarding schools in the cities or larger farming towns.

Every room has its own private view of the garden…


In 1947 Edna Walling re-designed the garden, removing many existing hedges to make way for the natural scenery of the paddocks and hills.

Many of the hallmarks of her design are here….curved granite walls, gently dividing the garden, a profusion of roses, and hardy perennials…..and the paddocks and hills can be seen at every turn..

Edna Walling is said to have designed the garden around some of the original trees. Unfortunately I don’t know if these are still standing, but there are some striking Eucalyptus trees on the right of the homestead…

…and from these trees the sweeping lawns guide the garden

…..through a canopy of trees and greenery.

Stone paths lead to garden rooms, which are protected from the winds by hardy perennials ….

Plants in this garden have to survive extremes of weather, very hot summers, and regular snow in winter…


Wisterias, magnolias, weeping elms, and claret ashes, and a great variety of shrubs and trees lead the eye onwards to the depth of the garden and the small lake beyond….


Even in the fading light, the autumn colours on the water are wonderful..

Autumn shows the colours of the garden, but spring is just as grand I’m told.

A new family with young children are moving into Markdale to begin a next chapter in the life of this beautiful property.

…just think of the fun they will have with this bonfire!

PS….In true country style the family and local community had tea and coffee ready, and all the wonderful homemade cakes that you only see in the country…..scones and cream, lamingtons, lemon meringue pie, passionfruit slice, and of course,  Caramel slices, dripping with goodness ….be still my beating heart!!

I didn’t take a photo of all the wonderful cakes on offer, but here is a sample of an Aussie country favourite cake…a lamington.

Image result for photos of lamingtons
Lamingtons… photo by

 Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved.














19 Replies to “Australian Homestead: Markdale…… endings and beginnings…”

  1. What a splendid tour of a beautiful property, thank you so much for showing us round. I used to love Lamingtons when I lived in Victoria.

    1. Thanks Susan…it was a lovely time to go and visit the property, and I’m not sure it will be open in the future..(glad you were reminded of dear old Lamingtons!)

  2. This is truly an amazing piece of property inside and out. I hope the new family has many happy years there, but it always strikes me as sad when I hear about an estate sale. It’s kind of like a funeral for a house and its previous owner. We went to one a couple of weeks ago just down the road from us. The owners had aged out of property ownership, had moved into an apartment, and their adult children had all their possessions spread out and ready to sell. I know it is a necessary transition, but I don’t like how it feels. In your case, I can picture young children running all over the property with the sound of laughter floating in the air. Now, that’s a nice thing. 🙂

    1. Yes, I felt the same way about the house Judy, and especially seeing the children’s room and the wedding dress. But good to know another young family will enjoy the property.

  3. Oh dear – all that historic furniture moving on. How sad. It all looks so at home there. What a wonderful garden – I could get lost in all that colour.

    1. So true about the furniture, and you should have seen the dining room….lovely things there too. The garden was gorgeous.

  4. What a magical house and fantastic garden! Sad though isn’t it? I am glad I wasn’t there, my cheque book would have been hammered, auctions are my week spot, and I would have spent well above my

    1. Yes, so true, sadness and joy. We used to have National Open Gardens, and a booklet with all the gardens came out every year, however, it has ended, and individuals and gardening groups organise their own…not as good sadly.

  5. I agree with the previous comments that there is something terribly sad about seeing the end of a family era. All those lives and memories reduced to an estate sale … Of course, the family may have been a bunch of mean cranks and the house a place of great unhappiness and heartbreak. It doesn’t look like it though–it appears to have been a comfortable, beautiful, well-loved homey place. I hope the new owners will embrace the history of the place.
    I had to look up Lamington Cake, because I’d never heard of it. It looks and sounds scrumptious.

    1. I think it was a very happy home, … But as with so many country properties the world over, distance becomes a problem for careers etc

  6. It was lovely to see this old house and garden. It must be sad that after so long it will belong to a different family. I’m sure they will love it and breathe new life into this special place. Sarah x

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