Cave lair for sale: Wildman of Tallarook and Man from Snowy River site up for grabs


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430 Ennis Rd, Tallarook has breathtaking views — and a rich history.

Crawl on your stomach beneath two house-sized boulders at this regional Victorian bush block and you’ll find yourself in the pitch-black lair of the Wildman of Tallarook.

And if the exploits of a 19th century vagrant and fugitive aren’t enough to grab your interest, the property is also a part of the nation’s screen history — appearing in films The Man from Snowy River and Ned Kelly The Last Outlaw and also on TV’s The Henderson Kids.

In fact, a shed built high among the granite boulders on the property at 430 Ennis Rd, Tallarook by owners Sue and Bruce Ackland replaced a disintegrating shack built by the previous owner from parts of the discarded set of The Man from Snowy River.

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But a near-new shed with a potbelly wood-burning heater inside built by the pair has proven the perfect spot for picnics, day trips — and to explore the 18.21ha property once roamed by the infamous folk villain.

The man might be gone, but the landscape is still pretty wild.

The Wildman of Tallarook, celebrated in historian Robert Hollingworth’s They Called Me the Wildman: The Prison Diary of Henricke Nelsen, was reportedly a Swedish migrant who turned his back on civilisation to live out of a cave in the 1860s.

After years in the wilderness his lair was eventually found, the Wildman captured and sentenced to six months hard labour at Melbourne Gaol for vagrancy, according to newspaper articles from the time.

And the cave became a local tourist attraction until the early 1900s.

Prison seems cruel after a view like this.

But getting inside the cave in a remote corner of the property isn’t for the faint of heart.

“It’s quite a way down, and it’s very difficult to access,” Mr Ackland said.

“Some people don’t like to crawl in because you are crawling in horizontally, under the granite boulders. It certainly is an endeavour to get there, and it’s pitch-black.

“But it comes out at a cave after a short while and you can stand up in it. The granite boulders are as big as a house.”

A few extra structures ensure full enjoyment of the bush block as a day trip destination.

Natural rock shelves and the spaces where the Wildman slept and cooked can still be made out.

But it’s not the cave that captures most peoples’ imagination.

“The thing that hits everyone when they get there is the spectacular view,” Mr Ackland said.

“You are a couple of hundred metres above the valley floor.”

Would this view be enough to convince you to turn your back on civilisation?

With local echidnas, wombats, swamp wallabies and even a few kangaroos the block’s only full-time inhabitants these days, the Acklands try to head up to the unique property whenever there’s a sunny weekend for a picnic or day trip.

After six years they’re ready to sell up, and the massive property is up for grabs with expectations it will sell in the mid $300,000s.

While it’s not fit for overnight accommodation, the shed is perfect for having a cup of tea.

Pat Rice & Hawkins’ Bart O’Sullivan has the property, which includes a composting toilet, listed for auction on July 13 at 11am.

“It is well set up, and you are only 10 minutes away from the township of Tallarook,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

A third of the property is flat, grassy and parklike with trees across it, while the Colorbond shed is set into a concrete slab high in a granite escarpment.

Inside the shed, which is mostly used for storage.

Melbourne buyers have favoured similar properties recently, despite no dedicated home on them.

Last year the property opposite at 470 Ennis Rd sold for $375,000, despite pre-auction expectations it would only make $200,000.

That 27.5ha bush block has a cabin perched on top of a granite boulder as well as camping grounds.

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