The story of Toowoomba’s Bunya Park begins with the arrival of two brothers from Scotland in 1871. Today the story continues with Jeremy and Lucy Osborn.
The Osborns’ dedication to the historic Bunya Park runs beyond maintenance. “I am trying to find out more about these families and the history of the house so that we can understand how it has become the lovely home it is today,” says Jeremy.
Archibald and Duncan Munro made their fortune in timber milling and transport. The brothers set up their first timber mill on the banks of Geham Creek in 1874, and in 1903 they updated their timber-tracked tramline to accommodate steam locomotives. This change was to seal the brothers’ fortune and their timber business continued until 1935 when the mill closed and the railway dismantled.
Duncan Munro commissioned the build of Bunya Park in 1888. Prior to this, he had already built the impressive Argyle homestead in Geham, where he lived with his wife Matlida and their 10 children. The steep pitch of Argyle’s roof is thought to be reminiscent of Duncan’s travels to Canada during his business life. These North American influences are also visible in Bunya Park, a home that has attracted the admiration and attention of locals and media during its long history as one of Toowoomba’s finest homes.
Bunya Park remained in the Munro family until 1913, and since that time has seen a series of owners, each adding a personal touch to the property. However, the charm of its former glory remains today. The homestead retains its heritage features, two formal sitting areas, an impressive dining room and four large bedrooms that open up to the garden.
“All of the original four rooms and hallway remain much as they were when they were built,” says Jeremy. “They all retain their pressed metal ceilings and two rooms have their open Victorian fireplaces. Other than repainting, the lounge room added on in the 1920s and the dining room built in the 1930s are as they were.” As for an original semi-detached three-bedroom cottage on the property, “We think this is now the garage,” says Jeremy Osborn. “It is possible to see where there were other brick pillars that must have divided up the area.”
Two separate subdivisions on the property took place in the 1950s and in the 1960s. The owner at the time, Mr James Rosbrook, subdivided the property to create 14 new residential blocks, which also allowed for Geoffery Street to be extended through to Mackenzie Street. The owners preceding the Osborns did extensive work to the garden and even reclaimed more space by purchasing an adjacent block. This is now a tennis court with lights, and what Jeremy calls “an integral part of the property”.
Since buying Bunya Park, the Osborns have repainted a number of rooms, added central heating, renovated two bathrooms, extended the kitchen and added an indoor/outdoor living room at the back of the home. “For us, it is the perfect balance of history coupled with a modern home,” says Jeremy. “It has a very welcoming feel to it and, if it could only talk, would have some amazing stories to tell about the many families that have lived here.”
Words by Alice Thompson | Images by Cory Rossiter