Moving to Chiverton Homestead in 1999 was a bit like coming home for the late Jill Roe.
A former country girl from Longreach, Jill Roe had spent a good innings in the city, and moving back out to the bush to this beautiful homestead was to indulge her passion for country homes and for the good life. Set in 10 acres of park-like gardens which once belonged to the 390 acre South Toolburra Station, Chiverton is a handsome country homestead, trimmed with beautiful gardens that separate it from the great expanse of countryside that surrounds it.
Chiverton’s history begins long before Jill with the Leslie Brothers in the 1800s. When they marked out the blocks for North and South Toolburra Stations just outside Warwick in 1840, these Scotsmen changed the history of the area and were henceforth celebrated as the pioneers of the Darling Downs sheep industry. The two properties, North and South, straddle the Condamine River. Chiverton Homestead, set on the highest ground, overlooked the southern property. Although there is some debate over the exact date of construction of the homestead, it is believed to be about 1871, when the property came into the hands of Joseph Charlton Parr.
The homestead gathered local fame, and for its design was known as an attractive ‘gentleman’s residence’. The double brick construction was flanked by sandstone verandahs, smartly designed for keeping the building envelope cool over summer months. Three fireplaces were charged with generating warmth throughout the winter. Over the course of time, the design was altered with wings added and others removed. The interior was originally fitted out with beautifully coloured wallpapers, cedar trims around door and window openings and plastered walls with some timber panelling.
As time wore on, the original owners of the building moved and in doing so the homestead was left unoccupied for decades. Once fallen into disrepair, the house became a place for hay storage and cows became the sole occupants of the formerly grand home. For 50 years, the homestead remained neglected, until 1990 when Jill’s predecessors undertook the first major restoration – 380 acres of the 390 acre South Toolburra Station were sold off to fund the restoration. Since that turning point the homestead has slowly been brought back to life.
Under Jill’s guidance, additional doors, windows and panelling were crafted to match the original cedar joinery. A new staircase to the attic rooms has been installed and the terrace gardens restored. The walled courtyard gardens at either end of the house have been completely restored, acting as signature features of the homestead and adding timeless elegance to the design.
As fate would have it, Jill’s daughter Rikki Stubbs is a nationally renowned interior designer. Along with her twin brother, Bruce Stubbs, she took the restoration a step further. With Rikki’s expert eye, the homestead has been given a new lease of life with colour and furnishings. The home is looking as fresh as ever, while staying true to its original handsome bones and heritage style.
“Chiverton is about as Australian as you can get – the architecture, the history and the setting,” says Rikki. “It’s a great house for entertaining. Drinks and dinner watching the sunset over the Condamine is pretty special.”
Words Alice Thompson Images by Christine Bickley, Vizionz Photographers