Documentary captures restoration of historic Queensland homestead

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Chris Allan and Annie Moir with her mum Jan Moir outside the squatter’s cottage which is the next to be restored at Rosenthal. Picture: Michael Nolan.

ONE of Queensland’s oldest properties, that is said to have sheltered Australian explorer Ludwig Leichhardt and bushranger Captain Thunderbolt at different times, will have its restoration journey revealed to Australia tonight.

The original homestead at Rosenthal is the focus of an ABC documentary to air tonight. Picture: Michael Nolan.

Rosenthal Homestead at Warwick on the Darling Downs was built in the 1840s and is part of Queensland’s pioneering history for its role in the breeding of Merino sheep and cattle.

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The Mulcahy family bought the property in 1919 and ran a dairy farm until the 1980s.

In 2016, third-generation owners, Jim and Diane Mulcahy, made the hard decision the sell the heritage-listed property which included the homestead, a squatter’s cottage, kitchen building, plus sheds and a meat box that served as a garden shed.

The dilapidated squatters cottage as it looked in 2016. Picture: CoreLogic.

“We don’t have any children, so it’s time to turn the page regrettably,” Mrs Mulcahy told the Warwick Daily News prior to the auction.

“I hope someone buys it who has the money and the time to restore it back.”

Their wish came true when mother and daughter team Jan and Annie Moir bought the lot at auction for $845,000.

“I am so grateful to them,” Annie Moir said.

“They were going to sell it in three lots of 20 acres and there were five people wanting the homestead.

“Mum and I had a quick drink at the bar and decided we really wanted all 60 acres so we went up and bid against the vendor for the lot.”

For the past two and a half years, Annie and her partner Chris Allan have worked to preserve the property, while running the nearby Killarney Hotel which is another historic building.

“You have to sometimes kick yourself that we actually got the property in the first place,” she said.

“It was riddled with white ants. I put my hand through a VJ board at one point, but that didn’t’ stop me. I really wanted the place.”

The property is littered with historical relics. Picture: Michael Nolan.

The restoration is running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the main homestead finished and Jan Moir moving in.

Annie and Chris are now working to turn the squatter’s cottage into their own home.

“The homestead is three great big rooms with a big hallway going through it. We had to make a hallway to stabilise the structure.

“There was a lot of white ant damage.”

When Jan and Annie Moir bought the historic property, the rooms looked like this, with all the original furniture inside. Picture: CoreLogic.

Their story has been documented by ABC TV’s Restoration Australia program over the past two and a half years and ‘Rosenthal’ will air tonight at 7.40pm and will be repeated on Monday night at 11.30pm.

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