Yobarnie Keyline Farm | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Yobarnie Keyline Farm

Item details

Name of item: Yobarnie Keyline Farm
Other name/s: Redbank, Belmont Park
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Agriculture
Primary address: 108 Grose Vale Road, North Richmond, NSW 2754
Parish: Kurrajong
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Hawkesbury
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT332 DP1199663
PART LOT100 DP1199664
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
108 Grose Vale RoadNorth RichmondHawkesburyKurrajongCookPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Regent Property Group Buildev Development (NSW) Pty LtdPrivate 

Statement of significance:

Yobarnie was one of the properties (the other was Nevallan) on which the Keyline system of soil improvement, erosion control, water storage, cultivation and irrigation on undulating topography was first developed and demonstrated from the mid-1940s. This design approach has since been adopted by farmers in almost every country in the world. These properties are associated with Percival A Yeomans (1905-84), inventor of the Keyline system. Yeomans was the first contemporary Western agriculturalist to take a whole-system approach to sustainable design and management of the landscape. The cultural landscape resulting from this technical achievement is itself aesthetically distinctive and pleasing. The property is held in high esteem by the permaculture and sustainable agricultural community. Yobarnie (with Nevallan) is unique in its ability to demonstrate the principles of the Keyline system of agriculture, on the site where this system was first developed, trialled and demonstrated.
Date significance updated: 06 Dec 12
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: PA Yeomans
Builder/Maker: PA Yeomans
Construction years: 1943-1964
Physical description: This pastoral properties is located on the south side of the Redbank Creek valley. It demonstrates the essential elements of Yeoman's Keyline System: the undulating terrain; the current hydrology of the place, as managed by the Keyline System - i.e. how water behaves there and both the big-picture and fine-grain biophysical effects of this; the dams; the ploughed contours and the resulting increased, enriched and productive topsoil. Together, these elements form a cohesive cultural landscape.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Keyline system has not been actively maintained or operated onYobarnie since 1964. A recent geotechnical assessment indicates that some maintenance would be required to bring the dams up to contemporary standards. The contours and dams of the original Keyline system are readily legible to anyone acquainted with the system, despite their neglected and overgrown condition. Of the original 12 dams, 10 remain as built, although neglected and unmaintained, damage to dam walls by cattle appears negligible and easily repaired.
Date condition updated:06 Dec 12
Modifications and dates: Modification through lack of active maintenance and use of the Keyline System, since 1964, affects the evidence of the Keyline System.
Further information: When Yeomans purchased Yobarnie and Nevallan, Yobarnie was already substantially cleared and this feature facilitated his early experiments there.
Current use: Pastoral
Former use: Pastoral, experimental pastoral

History

Historical notes: The original inhabitants of the Hawkesbury district were known as the Darug tribe of Aborigines, also known as Dharug or Daruk. Their name for the Hawkesbury River was recorded as Deerubbin and Venrubbin.

North Richmond:
North Richmond was originally known as the village of Enfield. It is marked on the Parish of Currency, County Cook maps. The name was changed at a later date in the 19th century to avoid confusion with Enfield in Sydney's (inner) west. This interesting little township in the Hawkesbury has experienced many changes over the last 100 years.

Following European settlement of the eastern coast of Australia in 1788, Governor Phillip explored the Hawkesbury River and climbed Richmond Hill.

From 1794 European settlers were granted farms in Windsor along South Creek and the earliest grant in Richmond seems to have been 1795.

It was on this site in 1795 that there was a fierce battle between the Dharug inhabitants and soldiers of the colonial government (Graham Edds, letter in support of grant application, 2011).

Grants at North Richmond along the river date from 1796 and in the early 1800s, larger grants were given to members of the Rouse, Bell and Bowman families, including the land relating to this study which was granted to Archibald Bell.

Belmont / Belmont Pastoral Estate (in time it was called this):
Governor Macquarie toured the NSW settlement in 1810. On the 1st December he and his party travelled to Richmond Hill, the "Kurry Jung Brush" and Richmond Terrace. They visited 'Belmont' the home of Archibald Bell and he recorded in his journal:
"...rode up the hill to call on Mrs Bell (the wife of Lt.Bell of the 102nd Regiment) who resides on her Farm on the summit of this beautiful Hill, from which there is a very fine commanding Prospect of the River Hawkesbury and adjacent Country. We found Mrs Bell and her family at Home, and after sitting with them for about an hour, we again mounted our horses to prosecute our Excursion, directing our course for the Kurry Jung Hill". A few days later on the 6th December, 1810 Macquarie named the townships of Windsor, Richmond, Castlereagh, Wilberforce and Pitt Town.

While in 1813 Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson successfully crossed the Blue Mountains, it was some ten years later in 1823 that Archibald Bell (Junior), son of Archibald Bell of Belmont, discovered an alternative route over the mountains which is (now) known as Bells Line of Road. This launched an expansion of land holdings in the west and a constant flow of traffic through North Richmond to Sydney.

By 1813 a school house had been constructed in the area which was also used as a temporary chapel. A Methodist Church was established in 1857 and Bishop Barker laid the foundation stone of St.Phillip's Church of England on 23/5/1859 with a school house completed in 1861. Public education began in North Richmond with the opening of the Public School in 1871. The Burial ground at St.Phillip's Church of England was consecrated in 1861, however the Bell family have their own vault on the site at Belmont Park (Urbis, 2008, 5).

The first house on the estate was built by Archibald Bell who lived there 1810-1849 but now the foundations of that house `Belmont' are all that remain.

An opulent mansion designed by Morell and Kemp and built by Howie for Phillip Charley, Director of B.H.P. who acquired the property in 1889. The mansion was completed in 1892, one storey high with cellars.

An unusual curved terra-cotta stair and balustrading in the centre axis leads down to a lower terrace whose centre feature is a sandstone and timber octagonal conservatory dated 1910.

The Charley family entertained lavishly, a feature of these occasions being theatrical performances in the courtyard which was provided with a stage opened by lowering the large window across the proscenium into the cellars. Leading to the house is a fine avenue of Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis) approximately 1/2 mile long, entered at an elaborate sandstone gate house built c1910.

The property has been developed as a psychiatric (St.John of God) hospital and is well recognised as a place of healing and therapy. The property retains the mansion, gate house, formal driveway with date palm avenue, a garden pavilion/conservatory with grotto and a beautifully manicured and landscaped forecourt with pleasure grounds, all overlooking the Hawkesbury River. Its location on Richmond Hill includes an Aboriginal Memorial Garden - a place of peace, reflection and reconciliation. It was on this site in 1795 that there was a fierce battle between the Dharug inhabitants and soldiers of the colonial government (Graham Edds, letter in support of grant application, 2011).

Yobarnie:
Yobarnie (together with the adjacent St. John of God Hospital site) formed part of the historic core of the Belmont pastoral estate, developed by Archibald Bell from c.1804.

In 1943, Percival (P. A.) Yeomans, a retired mining engineer purchased two properties (Nevallan and Yobarnie) and, on Yobarnie, began conducting experiments in soil conservation and enrichment, erosion control and water management, based on his engineering insights. In 1944, the Geography Department of the University of Sydney began using the property for student mapping exercises which ultimately produced a complete contour map that guided future development of the Keyline System. By 1948, Yeomans devoted himself to his experiments on a full time basis. After a further three years trialling various methods of artificial drainage, he abondoned this approach in favour of the system of deep soil ripping, ploughed contours and dams exploiting the natural topography of the place, that he called the Keyline System. The favourable results of this work on Yobarnie were then implemented on Nevallan which became the principal site for demonstrating the system. By the early 1950s, the results achieved attracted numerous visitors to Nevallan and Yeomans' publications describing his discoveries excited the interest of agriculturalists worldwide. During the following decade, farmers in every corner of the world, confronted with poor soils on steep, undulating terrain adopted the Keyline method.

Following the death of his wife, in 1964, Yeomans was obliged to sell Yobarnie and Nevallan to pay estate taxes. The properties were purchased and operated as pasture for beef cattle (and erroneously known as "Peel's Dairy"). This use continues to the present. In 2009, most of Yobarnie was purchased by a land development company which received planning permission from Hawkesbury City Council to construct a Seniors' Living facility on the portion of the property adjacent to the existing suburb of North Richmond. Local residents and members of the sustainable farming ('permaculture') community became concerned that further development would obliterate the physical evidence of Yeomans' achievements and, in June, 2009, nominated the properties for listing on the State Heritage Register.

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 Turf 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 Mushroom 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 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 Attempting to transplant European farming practices to Australian environments-
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 and parklands of distinctive styles-
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 and countryside of rural charm-
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 food production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Modifying landscapes to increase productivity-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal 1820s-1850s land grants-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Early farming (Cattle grazing)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Granting Crown lands for private farming-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Sub-division of large estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to tourist-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of rural estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Teaching young or new farmers-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with P.A. (Percival) Yeomans, mining engineer, experimental 'Keyline' Farmer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Archibold Bell Jnr., 'discoverer' of Bells Line of Rd across Nth.Blue Mountains-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance as the place in which the Keyline system of soil improvement, water storage,cultivation and irrigation on undulating topography was first developed and demonstrated. This system has since been adopted by farmers in almost every country in the world. The Keyline system is considered to be the precursor of the Permaculture movement. The properties continue the pastoral landuses begun when Yobarnie formed part of the Belmont estate, established in 1804.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance for its association with Percival A Yeomans, inventor of the Keyline system. Yeoman's achievements were recognised internationally by the Prince Philip Design Award, in 1974, and a nationwide poll conducted by Country Life magazine placed him among the top 3 Australians who had contributed most to Australian agriculture.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance as the earliest and still legible evidence of the techniques and systems pioneered by PA Yeomans for soil improvement, water storage, cultivation and irrigation on undulating topography. In addition to the increased fertility and productivity of the soil subjected to the Keyline regime, by-products of the system include erosion prevention, increased fire safety, significant carbon sequestration and improved wildlife habitat. The distinctive cultural landscape resulting from this technical achievement is itself aesthetically pleasing and offers considerable scope for contributing to the visual and recreational amenity of any future adaptive reuse.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance for the high esteem in which it held by the state's (and indeed, the country's) agricultural community. This esteem is evidenced by a nationwide poll conducted by Country Life magazine that placed PA Yeomans among the top 3 Australians who had contributed most to Australian agriculture and by representations received from the practitioners and advocates of Permaculture attesting to the seminal role of the Keyline experiments in subsequent sustainable landuse theory and practice.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance for its ability to demonstrate not only the principal characteristics of the Keyline system, but also for the evidence of Yeomans' early experiments which led to the perfection of that system. This evidence is not to be found on any other property.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance as the site of the original development, implementation and demonstration of the Keyline system. Yobarnie is unique in preserving evidence of the early experimental stages in the development of that system. Such evidence of the sustainable transformation of natural landscapes by human agendas is rare in NSW and in Australia. These attributes have the potential to play a significant ongoing role in the cultural, recreational and economic life of the community.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Yobarnie is of state heritage significance for its ability to demonstrate the interaction between topography and poor soil and the Keyline System, which created from this challenging environment the prototype of a viable agricultural landscape now represented worldwide.
Integrity/Intactness: The Keyline System has been neglected since 1964, although it has continued to operate passively to the extent possible without maintenance. Two dams on Yobarnie have been demolished. Some of Yeoman's contours have been breached by cattle or subsequent land use. The overall legibility of the Keyline System is good
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:

The cultural landscape resulting from implementation of Keyline principles is aesthetically distinctive and pleasing and offers considerable scope for contributing to the visual and recreational amenity, as well as the educational value of any future adaptive reuse. A lack of heritage listing to date has placed this rare site and its components at risk of modification or destruction without due consideration of the values of its retention or adaptive reuse potential. This potential should be explored in a Conservation Management Plan covering both properties. Stautory listing at local and state levels is approriate.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)
TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL

Yobarnie Keyline Farm

SHR No 1826

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in ScheduleC by the [owner, mortgagee or lessee of the land] described in Schedule B on the item described in Schedule A.

The Hon Robyn Parker, MP.
Minister for Heritage

Sydney, 29th Day of January 2013

SCHEDULE A

The item known as Yobarnie Keyline Farm, situated on the land described in Schedule B.

SCHEDULE B

All those pieces or parcels of land known as Part Lot 271 DP 1156792 in Parish of Kurrajong, County of Cook shown on the plan catalogued HC 2291 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SCHEDULE C

1. All Standard Exemptions
2. Future development:
(i) Development that is specified as exempt development or complying development in State Environmental Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 provided it is also in accordance with a site specific Development Control Plan endorsed by the Heritage Council of NSW and a Masterplan for the site endorsed by the Heritage Council of NSW.
(ii) Development carried out generally in accordance with any site specific Development Control Plan endorsed by the Heritage Council of NSW.
3. Maintenance of dedicated open space:
General maintenance and repair by Hawkesbury City Council for:
(i) Tree surgery where considered necessary for the health of a tree;
(ii) Removal or pruning of trees considered a danger to the public or staff;
(iii) Minor works to reduce risks to public safety;
(iv) Repair of damage caused by erosion and implementation of erosion control measures; and
(v) Routine horticultural maintenance, including lawn mowing, cultivation and pruning.

4. Maintenance and repair of infrastructure
Maintenance and repair by Hawkesbury Council of existing roads, paths, fences, gates, sporting amenities, drains, water reticulation facilities and other utilities. This exemption does not apply to excavation, unless Council can demonstrate the subject site is previously disturbed or comprises previous fill.

5. Temporary uses
Erection and dismantling by Hawkesbury Council of temporary structures, signs, crowd control barriers, banners, stages, lighting and sound, and public address equipment associated with special events, sporting activities and functions held on Council land. This exemption does not apply to excavation, unless Council can demonstrate the subject site is previously disturbed or comprises previous fill.
Mar 8 2013

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register HERITAGE ACT 1977 ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) 0182608 Mar 13 34615 & 616

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJ Macdonald Holmes1960The Geographical Basis for Keyline
WrittenJones, David, in (ed.s), Aitken, Richard & Looker, Michael2002'Yeomans, Percival Alfred' entry in 'The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens'
WrittenNoel Bell Ridley Smith & Partners2006Opportunities and Constraints from a Heritage Perspective - North Richmond Project
WrittenPA Yeomans1954The Keyline Plan
WrittenUrbis2012Conservation Management Plan The Former Yobarnie, 108 Grose Vale Road, North Richmond, October 2012
WrittenUrbis2009Heritage Assessment - Lots 26 & 27 DP 1042890, Grose Vale Road North Richmond

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: 5061775


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