If you are visiting Central West N.S.W you will find a wonderful hidden gem there. It is Mt Oriel Homestead, or as it is known locally, Iandra Castle. And yes, it really is a castle and it just has to be seen to be believed.
Located about 11 kilometres from the small village of Greenethorpe or 45 kilometres from Cowra, Iandra Castle opens its doors to the public just a handful of times a year. But if you can, it really is worth planning your trip to the Central West around one of those open days.
The history surrounding Iandra Castle is a fascinating look into Australia’s pioneering past. The land that Iandra sits on was first purchased by Mr George Henry Greene, an Irish immigrant in 1878. The sizable piece of land that he purchased was estimated to be in the vicinity of 34,000 acres. Many of Mr Greene’s friends thought he was settling in a most unpromising area. He soon proved them all wrong embarking on a program of land clearing, fencing and building. He subsequently commenced growing wheat there in the 1880’s and also started a successful share farming operation as well.
In 1880, the first Mt Oriel homestead was built. It was a double brick, single story dwelling and in 1908 this first building was incorporated into a double story reinforced building which is what became known as Iandra Castle.
There are several other outbuildings at Iandra, including an extensive stable block and an equally impressive managers ‘cottage’. At one time Iandra boasted its own post office, store and school. A church – St Saviours was built just down the road in 1886 and both Mr and Mrs Greene and their two sons are buried there. Sadly the church is no longer in use and has fallen into a state of disrepair despite being renovated during the 70’s and 80’s.
Iandra itself is now heritage listed and restoration work is ongoing as some sections of the home are not in good condition. The property was sold to the Methodist Church in the 1950’s and became a boy’s home in 1956. It was subsequently purchased by David and Margaret Morris in 1975 and is still owned by Mrs Morris.
The interior of Iandra is vast. The entry hall is dominated by beautiful timber paneling and a large timber staircase. To the right of the staircase are the dining room, billiard room (formally a chapel) and a sitting room. The kitchen, a smaller sitting room and a bathroom are behind the staircase.
Upstairs there are dozens of rooms, some leading out onto the large veranda’s at the front of the house. A feature of the house is the lead-light paneling in nearly all the doors and windows. Each panel in the bedrooms features a different coloured flower and the room is then known by that colour. The most impressive windows are at the top of the staircase.
There are many servants rooms at the rear of the house and in its heyday there must have been many staff to keep the house running smoothly and heated in winter as the temperatures in the area can be quite chilly, hence the many fireplaces that would have needed lighting each night.
If you are visiting the area for any length of time there are several places to stay in and around Grenfell that offer free or low cost camps. My pick for places to stay if you are self contained would be Ochre Arch Farm.
IANDRA CASTLE OPEN DAYS 2017
Iandra Open Days for 2017 are –
- Sunday 16th April (Easter)
- Sunday 23rd April
- Sunday 11th June (June Long Weekend)
Entry is just $10 for adults and $5.00 for children payable at the gate. Opening times are 10am to 4pm. Many people bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the beautiful grounds and fresh coffee is also available. All monies raised from these open days contribute to the up-keep and restoration work needed to keep Iandra Castle in the best possible condition.