Day 28: Bella Vista Farm

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In 1799, Joseph Foveaux was granted 300 acres (1.2 km2), which he expanded to over 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) and later sold to John Macarthur in 1801. John and Elizabeth Macarthur farmed sheep on this property in addition to their properties at Camden and Parramatta. For much of the time that the Macarthur’s owned this farm John was overseas and it fell to Elizabeth to manage the various Macarthur properties and flocks. Reference is made by her to “my Seven Hills Farm” and this refers to the property, part of which later became “Bella Vista”. Although claims are made by some that the Seven Hills Farm exclusively was used by the Macarthurs for the breeding of their merino flocks, this is clearly not the case as the documentary evidence of the Macarthur papers shows that their Merino rams were paddocked at “Elizabeth Farm” at Parramatta. The Seven Hills farm was isolated and stock there were always in danger from theft and aboriginal attack. Two of Macarthur’s stockmen were killed on the farm by natives in 1805. In fact the sheep at the Macarthur’s Seven Hills farm had their genesis in the 600 sheep which were purchased from Foveaux at the same time as the property. What can justifiably be claimed about the site is that it was one of the first major Australian sheep breeding farms and that the results later achieved at Camden with fine merino sheep only followed Elizabeth’s efforts at Seven Hills. Part of this land was later acquired by the Pearce family and became known as Bella Vista. All the buildings on the site today date from this period of its history with no extant buildings from the Macarthur period. In the 1890s, Edward Henry Pearce (1839–1912) of Bella Vista was declared the “largest and most successful orange grower in the colony.” Bella Vista was sold by the Pearces in 1950.

Until the mid-1990s, the area was primarily used for small-scale agriculture. Since then, significant changes have become apparent as it incorporates a residential area and a busy business district. However, the homestead and old farm buildings have been preserved and this portion of the former Pearce family property is now owned by The Hills Shire Council. The Friends of Bella Vista Farm Park has been formed and they are working actively to achieve the continued restoration of all buildings on this unique site.