Since 1888, Quamby has been known for its lavish hospitality and welcoming ambience, a tradition still carried on by Bruce and Samantha today.
“Quamby” is the Koori name for “resting place”.
The Quamby run has played an important role in the development of the Western District of Victoria. It was first taken up by Messers Mussle, Brown and Wickham and was very rough terrain, heavily timbered and swampy.
The property passed to George Youl in 1848. Quamby was gazetted on February 1849 and covered approximately 25,000 acres.
In 1853 it was sold to Paul de Castella, a Swiss vigneron who then went on to make his name in the Yarra Valley. It is believed the first house was built in the 1850’s, and located on the Croquet lawn.
William Lindsay purchased the property as a squatting lease in 1854, and the present homestead was commenced in 1888, taking two years for the foundations to be laid, and a further three years for the Homestead to be constructed! William was born to an Edinburgh merchant family in 1813, and arrived in Port Phillip in 1841 on the “John Cooper”. The families aboard had large supplies of provisions, including a draught mare and milking cows. The voyage had taken 9 months.
After a period of cattle dealing in Melbourne and Castlemaine, William Lindsay took up the Quamby lease, and it became a freehold property in 1862. A further 2,000 acres were purchased and in 1864, William bought Union Station from his brother-in-law for one pound an acre, which added a further 25,600 acres to his holdings. (Union Station now 5,000 acres was recently sold for $9 million).
Union had been taken up by the Carmichaels, the first settlers in the district in 1840, and William Lindsay married Grace Carmichael, and had two sons and three daughters. After William’s death in 1898, one son – James, ran Quamby and the other son, William Junior, managed Union.
Clearing the land at Quamby was a huge task, and no expense was spared. Enormous drainage works (covering 120 miles) were carried out to increase the stock carrying capacity and prevent flooding. The demand for beef and wool, as a result of the gold rush and also the increasing population of the colony, bought great prosperity to the Lindsays. They insisted on protecting kangaroos when other landowners were eliminating them, and at times, descendants of the original stock can be seen grazing on the pasture flats at the rear of the guest accommodation.
The Lindsay’s were also said to have been kind and tolerant to the Aborigines in the area, when many landowners were not. William Senior and his son, James, were charitable men, both were very involved in local affairs, and both held the position of President with the Warrnambool Shire Council.
Quamby was known for it’s lavish hospitality, and also for it bloodstock and racing interests. The winners of the 1927 and 1929 Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase were housed in the existing stables.
James married Margaret Esther Parker in 1887 and had five sons and two daughters. The boys were high-spirited, to say the least, and there are many tales of their escapades.
Following James Lindsay’s death on 6th March 1908, Mr William R Douglas managed the property and married one of the daughters, Miss Grace Lindsay. James died in-testate and his wife instructed Mr Douglas, who knew the Quamby run better than anyone, to divide the land in to seven equitable shares, one for each child. Each picked their inheritance from a hat!
The other daughter of James and Margaret, Miss Nell Lindsay, lived at Quamby Homestead until she was almost 90 years of age. She died at age 92 in Port Fairy, in 1984.
The homestead was sold to Mr and Mrs Anthony Loquet in 1974. In 1984 the old outbuildings were converted into guest accommodation and the homestead equipped with restaurant facilities, features that are today used for the bed & breakfast at Quamby.
For more history, visit the Warrnambool & District Historical Society listing.