This lowset brick villa and its estate, built between 1858 and 1865 for Captain Louis Hope, is significant not just as the oldest on the Cleveland peninsula but as the birthplace of the Queensland sugar industry.
Hope, having arrived in NSW in 1843, moved to Queensland in the 1850s and wasted no time snapping up landholdings and residences including Shafston House at Kangaroo Point in 1854, Kilcoy Station, and land here at Cleveland which he began farming in 1858. The slab hut in the grounds was the earliest of the buildings in this estate, itself dating from 1858.
By 1862 an ornamental garden had been established as had saltpans producing up to 4 tonnes of salt per day, around 5 hectares of corn and 8 hectares of sugarcane.
Come 1864 Hope had acquired a further bundle of land from the Postmaster General Thomas Murray-Prior to add to his 325 hectares and built a sugar crushing mill. It was at this time he substantially extended and improved the brick residence, with features such as the Doric columns being made from local cypress tress which he had shipped to England to sculpt, bricks made on site and, significantly, ahead of its time features such as gas lighting, hot water and cisterns.
In 1865 Hope’s sugar plantation was the largest in Queensland and by 1867 South Pacific Islanders had been imported to step up production which was by then 50-60 tons per season. In 1869 a distillery was added to the operation.
After continued litigation from a neighbour, Hope sold the plantation in 1875 to his manager Gilbert Burnett but retained the 80 hectares containing his house until 1881 when he put it up for sale and moved back to England. It never sold and remained in the family until 1912, 18 years after Hope’s death.
In 1959 cashed-up Carmelite nuns bought the property and built a monastery on the grounds and today it remains under their ownership.
As such a well-preserved estate comprising many pieces of history it is well worth a look if in the region on Sundays between April and October for a Devonshire tea between 12pm and 4pm. Ph: 38241285 Entry is $5 per adult, $1 per child.