Forrest Homestead


City of Bunbury

Place Number



Lot 91 South Western Hwy Picton - now Wollaston

Location Details

fmr Picton Road (On the Preston River near the intersection with Vittoria Road)

Other Name(s)

Olive Trees & Mill Farm
The Old Place

Local Government



South West

Construction Date

Constructed from 1849 to 1930

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List Adopted 15 Apr 2003
State Register Registered 29 Sep 1998 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Municipal Inventory Adopted 31 Jul 1996 Exceptional Significance
Classified by the National Trust Recorded 05 Oct 1970
Register of the National Estate Indicative Place

Child Places

  • 05676 Forrest's Leschenault Water Mill & Mill Race - Site

Statement of Significance

Forrest Homestead and Olive Trees, has cultural heritage significance because: the place has been the home of members of the Forrest family since the 1840s; the Forrest family were of exceptional importance in the development of Bunbury and Western Australia, and also of Australia; the place is a well preserved example of a rural homestead which has been adapted to suit the needs of subsequent generations; the early fabric and particularly the 1930s addition, which comprise most of the house, are fine examples of architecture from their period. The 1930s addition is a fine example of the work of promient architects Eales and Cohen; the place includes an important collection of furniture and memorabilia relating to its owners and occupiers and important events with which they were associated; the grouping of the house and large, mature olive trees planted by William Forrest to represent each of his nine sons form a landmark that contribute to the aesthetic qualities of the landscape; and, the place includes the site of the Leschenault Mill Race which was testimony to the engineering skills of early settler, William Forrest, who constructed a mill race capable of powering what was eventually a large two storey mill. The mill was important to the local economy and provided flour for the local market.

Physical Description

Forrest Homestead is a former farmhouse with additions in four distinct stages since first built c. 1849 by William Forrest. The house is a single-storey building constructed of brick walls, terracotta tile roof and timber floors. Verandahs to the north, west and south elevations and large bay windows to the north dominate the building form. Although built up in stages, an orange terracotta tile roof (Bristile and Wunderlich ‘Roman’ pattern) installed in the 1960s unifies the house. Walls to the older section of the building appear to be laid on brick footings. Bricks to the pre 1930 building were made from clay dug on site. The clay pits are extant. There are three distinct building styles discernible in the exterior of the building which match stages in building. The older part of the building, as defined by the 1930 additions, could be best described as ‘Colonial Vernacular’ as identified in Hocking (1995) which is a Western Australian extension of Apperly (1989). The extensions designed by Eales Cohen and Bennett are in an arts and crafts style defined by Hocking as ‘Inter War Arts and Crafts’. This extension and extensive remodelling of the exterior and interior of the house betrays Eustace Cohen’s intense interest in arts and crafts architecture. Inspection of external walls of the pre 1930 building reveals that there were probably at least one addition to the original 1849 building as both Flemish and Colonial bond brickwork can be discerned. The west verandah was deepened in 1930, but the west wall left intact including two fine cast iron casements in Gothic trace patterning. Forrest Homestead was again altered in the 1960s with a new wing containing a large kitchen, laundry and garage in painted stretcher bond brickwork and aluminium windows. At this time the entire building was re-roofed in Brisbane and Wunderlich Roman pattern clay tiles. Displaying clean brickwork, orange roof tiles, exposed timber eaves, verandahs and regard for climate the style could be described as Late Twentieth Century Perth Regional.


Forrest Homestead was built c 1849 for the Forrest family, who were closely linked with the development of Bunbury. William Forrest, an engineer, was born on 19 February 1819 at Bervie, near Stonehaven in Kincardinshine, Scotland. He married Margaret Guthrie Hill in Glasgow in June 1840 and in September 1842 they answered an advertisement in the newspaper for a husband and wife to move to Western Australia as servants for Dr Ferguson. Ferguson, a medical doctor, was emigrating to Australind as an investor/settler with the Western Australian Company. The Forrests left from Gravesend on 2 August 1842 aboard the Trusty. They arrived in Bunbury on 9 December 1842. Although the Australian scheme was a failure, Ferguson struggled to make a success while on the other hand Forrest proved that he was capable of almost anything. Forrest built many of the first bridges in the district. The Forrests were released from their employment with the Fergusons in 1846, when William Forrest was appointed Colonial Medical Officer. William returned to his former trade of an engineer and millwright. To this end he leased land on a promontory in the Leschenault estuary and constructed a wind powered mill and a small timber home. By this time, the Forrests had three sons: William (born on the voyage out to Western Australia, 1842); James (born at Australind, 1845), and future premier John (born at Mill Point on 22 August 1847). After the milling enterprise failed due to flooding and intermittent wind, in 1849 Forrest purchased 100 acres on the banks of the Preston River at Picton from James Hertman for £50. The same year their fifth son, Alexander, was born. William built the homestead using clay from a seam on his property near the Ferguson River. He used hand fired bricks, crushed limestone and pit-sawn jarrah to build the house which had a low, split shingle roof. He also built another mill by constructing a dam on the Ferguson River and a mill race to power the mill. By March 1851, the Leschenault Water Mill was in operation, producing a ton of flour a day and was so successful that Forrest was soon able to purchase 400 acres of surrounding land. Despite the limited output of early flour mills such as Forrest’s, it played a vital role in the colonial colony. Due to the shortage of cash, much of the internal trade was carried out by barter, flour being one of the commonest commodities used. This gave the mill owners a powerful role in the district, and the ownership of mills was, not surprisingly, closely associated with the colonial pastoral and mercantile elite. Forrest’s mill closed in September 1867 when the building was destroyed by fire caused by a lightning strike. Damage was estimated at £3,000. William and Margaret had five sons while they were at Picton; David (January 1852), Robert (September 1854), Mathew (January 1857), George (November 1858) and Augustus (November 1861) who drowned as a toddler in the mill race. William is said to have planted nine olive trees for each of his sons on the west side of the house and they still stand today. Of the sons, Alexander became a leading explorer, financier and pastoralist, William and James were successful farmers in the south-west, George stayed on at the ‘Old Place’ and taking over from his father when he died and Robert continued his father's engineering and flour-milling business in Bunbury. John became premier of Western Australia in 1890 and was the first federal treasurer in 1901. Margaret and William are buried at St Mark’s Anglican Church at Wollaston [Picton]. Between 1849 and 1960, three major additions were completed to the Forrest’s Homestead. The first was probably completed in the late 1800s and Eales, Cohen and Bennett designed additions in the Arts and Crafts style in the 1930s. More additions were completed in the 1960s. Forrest Homestead has remained in the Forrest family for generations. In 2011, it it still owned by William and Margaret's descendants. This history is largely based on the documentary evidence in Heritage Council of Western Australia, 'Register Entry: Forrest Homestead’, prepared by Donna Houston and John Stephens, 1998


No apparent loss of architectural integrity with the 1930s unification of buildings under one roof.


Brick and tile homestead, mill farm and olive trees all appear in good condition.


Name Type Year From Year To
Eales and Cohen Architect - -

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Present Use FARMING\PASTORAL Homestead
Original Use FARMING\PASTORAL Homestead
Original Use RESIDENTIAL Single storey residence

Architectural Styles

Late 20th-Century Perth Regional
Federation Arts and Crafts
Victorian Georgian

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall BRICK Rendered Brick
Roof TILE Terracotta Tile
Wall TIMBER Other Timber
Wall BRICK Handmade Brick

Historic Themes

General Specific
PEOPLE Early settlers
PEOPLE Famous & infamous people
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Workers {incl. Aboriginal, convict}

Creation Date

30 May 1989

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

24 Oct 2017


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.