MT BULLER IN walk. hike. run. bike
THE sense of grandeur can be felt at All Saints Estate the moment you turn through the gates and make your way down the avenue, which is lined by some of the oldest and most impressive English elm trees to be found in Australia.
The stately property with its distinctive turreted castle, was built by the original Scottish owners George Sutherland Smith and John Banks in the late 1800s and designed to look like the Castle of Mey in Scotland.
It is proudly one of Australia’s first wineries and since 1992 has been in the capable hands of the Brown dynasty.
Despite living and working full time at All Saints in Wahgunyah, the beauty of the grand landmark nestled within manicured formal gardens is not taken for granted by fourth generation family member, Nicholas Brown.
Nick and his sisters Eliza and Angela grew up in Milawa where the Brown family, led by Nick’s grandfather John Francis Brown, has been making wine since 1889. >>
was running the two properties full time. Nick and his sisters had to sit down and decide whether to sell the properties, get a manager in, or run it themselves.
“We decided, in our youthful ignorance, that we’d give it a go - not really knowing what we were going to take on,” he said.
“We also decided to set up a mini-board so that we would be accountable, and to split up the roles.”
Nick chose to make the winery and vineyards his area of responsibility, while Angela took on sales and marketing and Eliza as CEO concentrated on financial management, allowing each to work cooperatively but without stepping on each other’s toes.
But Nick said the siblings agreed that family would always come first.
“We told each other that if we started fighting then we would sell up and save the relationship rather than risk losing our friendship with each other,” he said.
It was a difficult time and they certainly weren’t short of people willing to give them advice, but were selective and considered about who they chose as mentors and what advice they took on board.
They are now well and truly steering a steady course and moving forward in what is a highly competitive industry.
“There are so many wineries in Australia and the world now that it is certainly harder than it was in our grandfather’s time when there was only a handful of wineries in Australia,” said Nick.
“And there are so many good wines out there too - you can be making a similar quality product to someone over the fence - so you have to differentiate your wine from theirs.”
To achieve this, Nick said one of his major considerations was varietal choice and whether what was planted suited the climate.
It’s the reason he pulled out the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc and planted varieties like Durif, Marsanne, Grenache and more Shiraz, which appreciated Rutherglen’s long summers.
While the wines he is producing are consistently award-winning, Nick said the siblings were conscious of broadening the product they had on offer to the market.
“It was important to introduce a number of complementary components like a restaurant, a wedding venue and gardens people want to come and look at, so hopefully they’ll taste wine while they’re here,” he said. >>
knowledge that kindly farmers would sometimes stop their cars and offer the slowest pedaller a lift.
“Mum said the first time he turned up on a bike (to Uranquinty) she thought he’d pinched it, because they had no money and she didn’t know where he got it from,” she said.
Over the time he worked for the government, Lajos carefully saved, eventually earning enough to buy a block of land in Wodonga, and at the same time began collecting pieces of timber each week.
With the assistance of a group of men who had each agreed to help build each other’s houses, they built a “hut” – enough room for a bed and place to eat, which would be their first home.
The members of the group all purchased land near each other, putting up their makeshift huts before going on to help build each other modest homes.
Ilona says the experience of having absolutely nothing, then having to work hard and put every penny aside to build a home, is something many people these days simply wouldn’t understand.
After two years in Australia, Ilona was still wearing the one and only pair of shoes she owned and had on her feet when she left Germany.
She initially had two dresses, and will never forget the silk dress she ruined at Bonegilla by accidently washing it in salt water, leaving her with just the one. When Martha was a child, she remembers her mother pulling apart old clothes and making something new out of them, as an alternative to going shopping.
Bonegilla was expanded to take 7700 people with an additional 1600 in tents if required as employment officers processed and despatched up to 100 people a day.
As more families arrived, 20 holding centres were set up to relieve pressure on the reception centres and from 1949 to 1951, women and children were sent from Bonegilla to places like Cowra and Uranquinty.
Bonegilla became the largest and longest lasting of Australia’s migration reception centres and between 1947 and 1971 more than 300,000 migrants spent time at the centre - most originating from nonEnglish speaking, European countries.
* EARLIER this year, Wodonga Mayor Anna Speedie invited Ilona to visit Bonegilla and enjoy afternoon tea with her, which was the first time in decades Ilona had been back to the site and seen its new visitor facility.
The “Welcome Centre” was officially opened in November last year and is part of a major redevelopment of the Bonegilla Migrant Experience, which also includes landscaping works, signage, restoration of the Recreation Hut and the installation of two public artworks.
It’s recognition that the Bonegilla Migrant Experience has become an important tourist attraction, welcoming over 17,000 visitors in 2015 and providing information and updates for those looking to trace their family history through a revamped website and new Facebook page.
And with one in twenty Australians believed to have family links to Bonegilla – there is no doubt it has certainly played a significant part in changing the face of Australia.
To find out more about the Bonegilla Migrant Experience visit www.bonegilla.org.au.
Information courtesy of the NSW Migrations Heritage Centre and * “Receiving Europe’s Displaced,” published by Parklands Albury Wodonga.