Maryland (Under consideration) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Maryland (Under consideration)

Item details

Name of item: Maryland (Under consideration)
Other name/s: Nonorrah
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Farm
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP218779
LOT29 DP872135


Refer to Plan No. 1923


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Aitken LawyersPrivate 

Statement of significance:

Maryland is State significant as an intact example of a major surviving mid-19th century rural estate, - the core of the original 1815 grant of 300 acres - within the Cumberland Plain which continues as a working dairy farm. It occupies a prominent hilltop location forming an important reference point in the local area, further emphasised by the conspicuous old Araucarian pine plantings - and gate lodges along the Northern Road. The homestead and associated buildings, gardens and plantings have characteristics of the Summit Model of homestead siting within an intact rural landscape setting fundamental to its interpretation. The traditional rural landscape character and its setting is largely uncompromised.

Maryland retains substantial evidence of earlier estate layout and design by engineer Thomas Barker with an outstanding group of dairy and winery outbulidings and gate house.

Maryland is a rare example of mid 19th century gardening design and remains an historical resource in its remnant gardens and vineyards. Other historically related rural landscape elements beyond the homestead may still be appreciated in relation to it - old farms, creek lines, fence lines, the dairy group and outlying gatehouse. It retains important traditional historic views to and from The Northern Road.

It offers an outstanding landscape archaeological resource with its extensive remnant vineyard fields and other remnant functional and ornamental plantings. The significance of Maryland is considerably enhanced by the extent to which it has retained its form, character, fabric and rural setting.
Date significance updated: 07 Aug 15
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.


Designer/Maker: unknown
Builder/Maker: unknown
Construction years: 1820-1859
Physical description: Landscape / gardens
The main homestead, outbuildings and remnant landscapes are scattered along the main ridgeline and slopes. The main cultural plantings occur near and around the homestead, loop road and the eastern slopes. The house is sited on a knoll typical of the "summit" model of homestead landscaping, and has extensive views to the north over Lowes Creek catchment.

The estate forms one of the most important clusters of colonial plantings in the municipality and is dominated by massed plantings of emergent Araucarias which form one of the major visual components of this hilltop landscape. Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) dominate the horizon on approach. These Bunya Pines due to the drier climate and colder winter nights have been co-planted with hardy Monterey Pines ( Pinus radiata), Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia) and Pepper trees (Schinus areira). Araucaria pines ranging between 18-22 metres in height have been concentrated over the northern grassy slope, along the upper eastern loop of the driveway and down the old track to the lower gate. In the lower parts of the slope is a scattered plantation of Monterey Pines ( Pinus radiata), Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), Stone Pines (Pinus pinea) and English Oaks (Quercus robur). Port Jackson Pine (Callitris rhomboidea) is scattered throughout the hilltop area and mainly on the lower eastern slopes and is likely to be a remnant of the original woodland.

A single Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) has been planted on the northern lawn to the house and is a rare planting to the Camden area. A large Carob Bean (Ceratonia siliqua) is growing within its canopy. Rain forest plantings of two large Lacebarks (Brachychiton discolor) 15 and 18 metres in height can be found in the fork near the driveway and Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) planted nearby.

Typical of many larger estate plantings is a wilderness area located close to the homestead which contains a variety of wild hedgerow plants and vines. These create a dense canopy and tangled understorey dominated by species now considered weeds. Wild Olives (Oleo africana) dominate the understorey throughout the eastern slope and continuing down to the lower road. Wild Olives (Oleo africana) interconnect to create a canopy over the driveway giving the appearance of a gothic landscape. Beneath this canopy is a clipped Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) hedge which competes with weed species and naturalised remnant Century plants (Agave americana) and Kaffer Lilies.

The garden entry to this area is dominated by a single large Loblolly Pine (pinus taeda), Wild Olives (Oleo africana) and clipped hedges of Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) and Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis). Other historic species within this wilderness area include the Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia), Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), Pepper Tree (Schinus areira), White Cedar (Melia azedarach), Lemon-scented gums (Eucalyptus citriodora), Funeral Cypress (Cupressus funebris), Cotoneaster (Contoneaster sp.), Chinese Hawthorn (Photinia serratifolia), and Oleander (Nerium oleander). These species are common to many 19th century landscape schemes in the Camden area. Camelot in particular has almost identical major tree species to Maryland.

The eastern driveway is dominated by by the emergent plantings of two Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) and a large spreading Lemon Scented Gum (Eucalyptus citriodora). The western part of the loop road to the outbuildings and barn continues through the Wild Olive grove and a remnant of the Cumberland Plain woodland. An enormous Eucalypt, possibly a Mana Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) is located on the steep embankment adjacent to the road. On top of the hill beside the outbuildings, Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) remnants of the original woodland compete with a dense understorey of exotics dominated by Wild Olives. A Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) is the dominant ornamental tree in this area and a large leafed Mulberry (Morus alba) is also growing in this area.

Throughout the ridge area to the south of the homestead associated with outbuildings are further cultural plantings forming important clusters of vegetation. Another Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) is located in a paddock adjacent to the entry roadway in association with other remnants of cultural plantings. The Lower Road, located above the dam and adjacent to a derelict farm building, contains a significant grove of cultural plantings which includes Hoop Pines (Araucaria cunninghamii), a Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata), Pepper Trees (Schinus areira) and Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia) (Camden Significant Tree and Vegetated Landscape Study. 1993. pp131-132)

Immediate Garden
There is a large rambling garden of oaks, olives, auracarias, plumbago hedges, geraniums, and oxalis planted by Thomas Barker Snr. There is also further landscaping on an extensive scale executed by Thomas Barker Jnr.

The house has been extant on site since c. 1820. The present building was completed by 1859. The colonial estate consists of a large single-storey brick and stone-rubble homestead with cellars, built with two fronts. It includes associated outbuildings.

The exterior is plastered in imitation of ashlar and sandstone quoins (painted). There are flagged verandahs with turned timber posts to north and east fronts, separate galvanised iron roofs to the house and verandahs, and sandstone Gothic chimney shafts. The shuttered French doors to the east-facing reception rooms have single panes of glass above and panels below. There are also margin bars glazed to the floor in the bedrooms on the north or entrance faade.

There ias a large vestibule with a flagged floor of exceptional quality and a flagged central corridor with skylights. The joinery has been painted throughout. Other detilas include four panel doors, black/grey marble and painted timber with paterae in bedrooms.

Kitchen and offices are traditionally believed to predate the house. There are a stone rubble winery, a fine stone stable with loft, a stone barn (re-roofed) and a stone and brick manager's cottage

Gate Lodges:
There are two Gothic sandstone gate lodges on the Northern Road (one altered c.1960).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The estate is prominent in the local area, has a number of significant outbuildings and although overgrown, the garden remains in recoverable form (ibid, 2000, 57).

The general layout is well maintained but some overgrown areas need attention. Some thinning and replanting is necessary. The archaeological potential is high regarding remnants of the previous house on the site, thought to be dated c.1820.
Date condition updated:29 Jul 03
Modifications and dates: During 1859 , major developments were undertaken when Thomas Barker converted 280 hectares of the original 1,200 hectares to grazing and agricultural land. Between 1920 and 1940, Thomas Barker Jnr undertook major works to extend the original gardens and made 10 hectares of the original grant into a grass-like park land.

One of the two Gothic sandstone lodges was altered c.1960

It is uncertain when the present house at Maryland was built. The farm would have supported some form of dwelling from at least the 1820s, possibly similar to its neighbour Denbigh, which was built of framed construction with brick nogged and weatherboard. The only record of building activity on the property so far found is contained in a letter to Thomas Barker from his agent/manager, Clements Lestir, c. 1849. Listir’s letter indicated a small verandahed house, with a detached kitchen and small shed, and noted that it was being rented out. The letter also mentioned costs for repairs, including an order for 3000 bricks. It is unclear whether this letter implies that the original house Nonorrah was of full brick construction or whether the bricks were to be used only for paving or chimneys. If this little house mentioned here was on the hill-top, it must have been demolished and replaced by the present house. Some of the rear sections of the present house are believed to be part of an earlier dwelling.
Further information: The architectural quality of the house and outbuildings in association with the quality of the surrounding countryside/landscape justifies the inclusion of a large curtilage with this classification.
Current use: Working farm
Former use: Working farm.


Historical notes: Maryland is situated west of the Northern Road on land granted to John Dickson, a prominent Sydney engineer, manufacturer,flour miller and grazier (Wrigley, 2006) in 1815. John Dickson named this 1,200 hectare grant, "Nonorrah". It is thought that Dickson built a hill-top house on the property by the 1820s that was later demolished to make way for the present residence.

Dickson in England had been very interested in the use of steam in industry and when he migrated he decided to bring one of the new steam engines to New South Wales in the hope of making a fortune with it. He arrived on the Earl Spencer in Sydney in 1813. Another ship brought him a complete saw milling plant. On arrival he received his grant on which to erect his mills and steam engine. His grant of nearly 16 acres included nearly all the land bounded by Hay, George and Goulburn Streets to Sussex Street in Sydney (ibid, 2006).

Thomas Barker (then aged 16 (ibid, 2006)) was apprenticed to John Dickson and in 1823 married Dickson's niece, Joanna, daughter of James and Helen Dickson of Bringelly. The newlyweds were given Dickson's Sydney property (ibid, 2006).

Both John Dickson and Thomas Barker established profitable milling businesses but in 1833 Dickson sold his business and returned to England, instructing his agent Matthew Dysart Hunter to sell his holdings in 1838. These were Nonorrah, Netherbyres, Orielton, Moorefield and Eastwood.

Thomas Barker built Roslyn Hall at Woolloomooloo Hill (now Kings Cross) in 1833 and had a keen interest in gardening. A list of plants despatched to Barker from the Botanic Gardens in 1832 indicates a more than usual interest in ornamental plants including 50 vine cuttings and he was trustee of (Sydney's first) nurseryman Thomas Shepherd's will (ibid, 2000, 56). He was one of the richest flour millers in Sydney, with a splendid house in Sussex Street next to his mils and later (in 1835) a place called 'Roslyn Hall' in Darlinghurst "more like a palace than a private home", near the present Roslyn Avenue (now Roslyn Gardens)(Fox, 1978, 47).

Just when Barker came to control Nonorrah is unclear. There is an unsubstantiated story that Nonorrah was a wedding gift to Thomas and Joanna. However recent research indicates that Thomas Barker purchased the homestead part of the Nonorrah estates in 1854 (Don Gapes, Land Titles Office, June 1999)(ibid, 2000, 56).

Either way, Thomas Barker was certainly managing both Nonorrah and Orielton in 1834 and his name is marked on an old parish map on both the Netherbyres grant (App 1833) and Oran Park (App 1834).

Joanna Barker died in 1851(1853, and childless and some years later (Wrigley, 2006)) Thomas married Katherine Heath Grey in 1857 (and they came to live at Nonorrah / 'Maryland' (ibid, 2006)). By 1870 Thomas Barker was known as "one of the chief patrons of gardening". After the 1859 sale of his Sydney property Roslyn Hall he shifted his gardening efforts to Nonorrah, which he renamed "Maryland". Authors of an article in the Horticultural Magazine and Gardeners' and Amateurs' Calendar, describe Maryland as covering an area of seven hundred acres of "ine grazing and agricultural land" (Britton & Morris, 2000).

The major development of the estate was undertaken after Barker took up residence there. There were entrance lodges to the property, both on the Bringelly and the Cobbitty sides of the estate. The main house stood on a hill, "for it is entirely on its slopes that the garden and vineyards are situated - is surrounded by a strong fence, having two sets of gates" (Horticultural Magazine & Gardeners & Amateur's Calendar, 1870).

The prospect was admired for its pool of water, its "peacefully browsing" cattle and its enclosures planted with pines. Gardens and 8.5 hectares of vineyards are situated on (about three parts /21 acres of) the slopes surrounding the house. The orchards and kitchen gardens are both on the eastern slope and there are also plantations of ornamental trees. Katherine Barker was responsible for many of the decorative gardens that were located close to the house, including margins of the whole of the carriage drive and other walkways between the vineyards and pleasure grounds. This was described in 1870 (ibid, 1870) as:
..." a neat border under the verandah, plentifully planted with choice dwarf plants of all kinds. On a wall on the northern side of the house, Bougainvillea splendens and (B.)spectabilis, Quisquales (sic: Quisqualis) indica, Mandevillea (sic: Mandevilla), cloth of gold roses, Bignonia cheree etc, etc, were exerting their powers to please the eye. A well-formed flower garden is made on the platform forming the terrace on the eastern and southern sides of the house. These are planted with roses, carnations, fuchsias, verbenas etc, - all the leading kinds in cultivation. Then, as a breakwind, a tolerably dense belt of pines, cypresses, araucaria Bidwellis (sic: Araucaria bidwillii, Bunya Bunya pine), camphor (laurel), lophostemons, etc are planted. This is also applicaable to the margins of the whole of the carriage driver, and other walks between the vineyards and pleasure grounds...We might state that a neat greenhouse is erected, and was resplendent with bignonias, azaleas, tydias, Russellia, eranthemums, alamandas etc etc."

Thomas Barker died in 1875 and Maryland was inherited by his only son, Thomas Charles Barker (1860 - 1940), who extended the gardens. The impressive park-like landscape seen from the Northern Road is attributed to his stewardship. Thomas Barker Jnr's wife, Emily Macarthur, also grew up on a property known for its prominent garden, Chisholm of Gledswood, Narellan. Both gardens were romanticised by Hardy Wilson. The Maryland garden has been directly linked to Hardy Wilson's description in "On the Cowpasture Road" (ibid, 2000, 56-7). Thomas Charles and Emily Barker lived at Maryland until Thomas' death, aged 80, in 1940 (ibid, 2006).

Maryland was sold in 1940 to Alan and Janet (Jetta) Ievers, the parents of the current owners, Misses Elizabeth and Annette Thomson. The Ievers were living before then at Cuppacumbalong, a property on the Murrumbidgee River south of Canberra. In 1923 Alan took control of the family business, Mauri Brothers & Thomson, a merchant company in Sydney (taken over by Burns Philp & Co. in 1982) and moved the family to Double Bay, Sydney. In 1940 he bought Maryland, then a 400 hectare dairy farm, so he could run the business in the city and enjoy country life (Veitch, 2009)(ibid, 2000).

At that stage (1940) the view to the north of the house was blocked by a dense plantation of trees adjacent to the upper drive beside the house where the slope fell away rapidly. The Thomsons thinned the northerly plantation and extended with fill the platform upon which the homestead was situated. An aerial photograph from 1947 indicates that there were fenced plantations of trees along a drive which was now south of the earlier entrance marked with a gate lodge on Northern Road. The landscape surrounding the hilltop homestead still had clearly defined areas of pleasure grounds. The former kitchen garden, orchard and plantings of trees appear to define the perimeters of the vineyard areas (ibid, 2000, 57).

The Thomsons had four children including two daughters, Annie (1921-2009) and Elizabeth (19? - 2006). Annie & Elizabeth worked on the farm and supported the family during World War II and the hard times that followed. When their father died in 1952, Annie & Elizabeth took over the farm because their brothers had gone into business in Sydney.

In 1959 the sisters joined the Friesian Cattle Club, started building a stud herd of Holstein-Friesians and entered the animals in the Camden and other shows. "The Girls" were the mainstay of the local community, known to everyone as such, and raised prize-winning cattle, showing these all over NSW. "The Girls" were eventually rewarded with life membership of the Camden Show Society, and Maryland Farming Company still exhibits there.

The Thomsons first took their cattle to the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1964. One of the most popular exhibits at Sydney's Royal Easter Show for many years was 'the Milky Way', a portable dairy where milkmaids dressed from the 1800s gave demonstrations. Annie Thomson provided the commentary, helping educate city people about country ways. Their Milky Way also visited Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra shows. When the Easter Show moved to Homebush Bay in 1998 a permanent Milky Way exhibit was built.

Annie's commitment to the dairy industry was recognised in 1988 when she was awarded life membership of the Holstein-Friesian Association of Australia. In 1993 she received a Dairy Industry Merit Award and life membership; in 1994, the Dairy Research Foundation's Tetra Pak award; in 1997, a Royal Agricultural Society contributor's award; and in 2001 she was named a Royal Easter Show Legend.

Thomson was also passionate about horses and riding. A founding member of the Cobbitty Pony Club in 1960, she taught generations of local children to ride. Maryland was the home ground for the club for many years. Thomson instructed beginners at the pony club until 1985. Giving this up, and later having to give up riding, were two of the hardest and saddest things she had ever faced. She never married or had children of her own.

In 2004 Annie and Elizabeth Thomson were each awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for their contribution to shows, the dairy industry and the community. Even then, they were keeping 120 dairy cows and travelling throughout NSW to show their animals (in their 80s). Maryland will continue to be run by the family (Veitch, 2009).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Orcharding-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Clearing land for farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Growing vines and maintaining vineyards-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of cultural and natural interaction-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Country Villa-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Thomas Barker, pastoralist and flour miller-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with William Hardy Wilson, architect, artist, writer, conservationist-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Maryland is of important to NSW's cultural history because of its role as a early model of garden design and European planing practices within NSW. Its garden was singled out by Hardy Wilson in his studies of early Australian homesteads.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Maryland Estate is a prominent site in the local area and was in ownership of the Barker family from 1854 - 1940 with close links dating back to 1823. Maryland has direct association with the Macarthur Chisholms of 'Gledswood' and has a strong inter-relationship with Hardie Wilson who romanticised Maryland in "On the Cowpasture Road" with direct links to the property. Thomas Barker Jnr was later to design the gardens at Marylands to emulated Wilson's ideal.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Maryland is significant for its high degree of creative landscape design in its vineyards and gardens. These have been consciously organised according to the particularities of its local climate. It offers an important early example of the "summit" model of homestead landscaping.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Maryland is significant in the locality for occupying a prominent hilltop location, forming an important local reference point.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Maryland offers important research potential because it provides extensive and partially intact evidence of early estate layout. Thomas Barker's mid-nineteenth century landscape design includes an outstanding group of dairy and winery outbuildings and gatehouses. The remnant vineyard fields and other remnant functional and ornamental plantings offer potential for archaeological research into mid-nineteenth century gardens within the Cumberland Plains area.
SHR Criteria f)
Maryland is a rare example of a major mid-nineteenth century rural estate which survives as a working farm incorporating original remnants of its nineteenth century gardens and landscaping.
SHR Criteria g)
Maryland is highly representative of early Cumberland County settlements. More generally it is representative of rural landscapes in the English landscape tradition.
Integrity/Intactness: Maryland's house and outbuildings retain much of their nineteenth century architectural integrity. Mayland's landscape qualities include a park-like setting and important remnants of nineteenth century gardens.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Ensure immediate listing on State Heritage Register of whole remaining estate area. The whole remaining estate should be conserved as a cultural landscape including its historic fabric (including the outlying gatehouse and dairy group), layout (including the former entry drive to the north) and visual dominance of the hilltop homestead and garden composition from the Northern Road. Retain the existing zoning for the remaining estate. Consider providing appropriate incentives (at both local, State and Federal government levels) to assist in the responsible ongoing custodial management of the estate.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - Under consideration for SHR/IHO listing  23 Aug 01   
Heritage Act - Listing Rejected by MinisterMinister returned unsigned-further work needed 31 Aug 05   
Local Environmental Plan 004821 Feb 92 0261143
National Trust of Australia register  889321 Oct 80   
Register of the National Estate  12 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW20004.12Morris, C., & Britton, G./NSW National Trust (for the Heritage Council of NSW)National Trust of Australia Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Other 1832Royal Botanic Gardens 'Plants Sent Out'.
Written 1870Horticultural Magazine and Gardeners' and Amateurs' Calendar - Vol. VII
WrittenColleen Morris & Geoffrey Britton2000Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW
WrittenFox, Len1978Old Sydney Windmills
WrittenJames Broadbent1982"Maryland", in 'Historic Homesteads'
WrittenVeitch, Harriet2009Dairy's crème de la crème on city's edge (Obituary: Annie Thomson, 1921-2009)
WrittenWrigley, John2006Historic Sites make up the landscape, in 'Back Then' column

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051539
File number: 11/20788;H02/00080;EF14/11320

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