By Jonathan Porter
While the Station, which will be 175 years old this Christmas, has been in the same family the entire time is steeped in history and legend, it’s the details which count.
Like the fully victualled fridge, with eggs, bacon and coffee ready to go, because as the sun burns the mist from the Clare Valley floor, there is a distinct possibility you may get a bit peckish and want to put on the nosebag.
The property is now a mixed-use farm, so the heritage buildings have been repurposed for accommodation, and it’s now an ideal hub from which city folk can explore the Valley’s cellar doors, cafes and byways.
I speak to Victoria “Vicky” Stewart, who runs the accommodation side of the business with her husband Mark. Her brother Edward Hawker runs the farm. And there are plenty of kids about, so the next generation is assured.
There is a family legend that the first grapes in the Clare Valley came from Bungaree, when Jesuits visited from nearby Sevenhill to take cuttings from the family vines to make sacramental wine.
After the war, Vicky’s grandad Sir Richard Hawker ripped out the historic vines to make room for the pool.
I ask Vicky what being part of such a venerable property and family tradition that goes back to the early days of the colony means?
She replies without a beat: “It’s something unique. You can’t reproduce it. It’s authentic and you feel so lucky to be part of it.
“We are stewards here. You don’t own Bungaree – we are just caring for it for the next generation. It was a great place to grow up and a great place for people to visit as well.”
The Bungaree saga dates back to 1841 when George C Hawker and his brothers, James and Charles, selected the area as the site for their Station.
They had purchased 2000 of NSW’s finest merino breeding stock, and settled on land that had been vouchsafed by explorer Edward John Eyre as having reliable water on the Hutt River.
They found “good drinkable water at a depth of 8 feet and plenty of it” and named the property Bungaree, after the Aboriginal name for the area.
Over the years and decades that followed, Bungaree grew into an English-style manor-village -sandstone Homestead, Woolshed, Shearers’ Quarters, Station Store, Manager’s House, District Council Chambers, staff cottages and a church.
Visitors have it a bit easier than the early pioneers, thanks to motor vehicles, Bungaree is now an easy drive 12km north of Clare and 1 ½ hours’ from Adelaide.
A day in the region might mean touring the Valley and its many cellar doors with Bungaree an ideal base.
And after a day on the road, back to Bungaree for a lie down before dinner – a two course roast lamb with all the trimmings followed by a quince strudel, delivered to your lodgings by Vicky herself.
Tel: +61 (0) 8 8842 2677