Poet lyrical about Bella Vista

Encourager: Bush poet Greg Dunn says that it is important to preserve our heritage. Picture: Geoff Jones
Encourager: Bush poet Greg Dunn says that it is important to preserve our heritage. Picture: Geoff Jones

WINSTON Hills poet Greg Dunn can't help but wax lyrical about Bella Vista Farm.

"In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, here's some peace and tranquillity," Mr Dunn said with reference to the 18.5-hectare park off Norwest Boulevarde.

The farm is on the NSW State Heritage Register and includes the two-storey Bella Vista Homestead, built around 1835, which Mr Dunn feels people should know more about. So he wrote Bella Vista Farm, a historical poem that traces the farm back to a land grant, handed down to a Major Joseph Foveaux.

"I'm not a rebel," Mr Dunn, a past district governor for The Lions, promised.

He said he wrote his poem five months before The Hills Council put a proposal to rezone the park, from recreation zone to B7 business park, on public exhibition.

The plan angered some residents — including Friends of Bella Vista Farm, of which he is a member — who were concerned that the proposal may open the way for the heritage park to become an extension of Norwest Business Park.

A draft conservation management plan prepared by Worley Parsons says rezoning is necessary for the property to become "financially independent" from its owner, the council.

"I think it should stay as it is," Mr Dunn said.

Read the poem below: 


‘Tis a modest little farm and not doing any harm

But has been here for a hundred years or more.

With its line of Bunya Pines towering high and giving signs

That the traveler’s direction was secure. 

When the colony began it was up to every man

To contribute to the wellbeing of the state.

A new and timeless land and each had to take a stand; 

How they endured would indicate their fate 

As a gesture from the Crown, a grant was hand down,

And allotted to a Major Joe Foveaux.

Nine hundred, sixty acres for the drivers and the makers

Of the colony, which was about to grow.

With the farm now set on course using convict labour force,

And with Sydney Town a full days ride away;

There was much work to be done and in heat from blazing sun,

He established much of what we see today.

John McArthur became wise, with the stock farm as his prize,

In the colony he was held in high esteem.

With local properties acquired he was like a man inspired;

And the sheep would be significant to his dream.

It was the largest in the land, as a stock farm it was grand;

It was high among the undulating grounds.

It was big enough to keep just on 1300 sheep,

And its prominence made it worth 2000 pounds.

Macarthur like a fool challenged Patterson to a duel

And was transported to England for the trial;

Elizabeth, his spouse, with John Hindle managed house,

And the farm was operational all the while 

Elizabeth loved the charm of her Seven Hills Farm

And for 20 years had overseen the run;

Since her husband took the prize it had doubled now in size,

But they surrendered it in 1821.

The property divided into lots it was decided

To McDougal, Acres, Robertson and Ward;

The Lot that we are on went to one, James Robertson

Who felt Cattle would achieve his best reward.

Mrs. Acres it would seem wanted to advance her dream

And determined that her holding must expand;

So in Eighteen Thirty Eight, purchased Robertson’s estate;

The property once more altered its brand.

And then just Four years hence another player climbs the fence,

A William Thomas Pearce now enters in.

Well respected in the land, and his family here would stand

For a hundred years and more and not give in.

This homestead that we see was built for the family

And for many years has stood here tall and staid;

But as we’ve learnt from ages past, most things aren’t meant to last

And the property became derelict and decayed

Demolition seemed its fate but with time almost too late

A group of concerned citizens voiced alarm;

And in true Australian style which Authorities revile

Protested and joined arms to save the farm.

In Nineteen Ninety Eight, Hills Council closed the gate

On any avenue to subdivide;

They purchased the estate and thus secured its fate,

For all Australians to admire with pride.

Let’s think back for a moment of the troubles, trials and torment

That this farm would have witnessed from the start;

How through drought and floods and famine, we need to re-examine;

Could we have done it? Would we have the heart?

The scorching noonday sun when you’re out upon the run

And no shelter from the hot wind from the trees;

Or the chilling winter rains and your body’s aches and pains

And the agony as your feet begin to freeze.

There was a definite indication that the Native population

Were not in full accord to white man’s way;

And repeated sneak attacks from the white man and the Blacks

Seemed to happen almost every single day.

The bush land never docile, with snakes and spiders hostile,

And other fauna never seen before.

While the convicts showed aggression and resisted the oppression

Of the Redcoats and the muskets that they bore.

One could say in their defense it was never common sense,

Nor a feeling bred from vengeance, greed or hate.

But a sheer determination we’d inherit as a nation;

And the spirit that has made Australia great.

— Greg Dunn

This story Poet lyrical about Bella Vista first appeared on Hills News.


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