Our visit to Armidale was to stay with a close family friend, but also to do a little family research. There was the added possible bonus that Hannah was hoping to ride a horse too on the property, or at least get up and personal with one or two of them.
Booloominbah is a huge house that is now nestled in the centre of the grounds of Armidale University. Amanda’s great great grandmother had grown up in this house and she was keen to have a close look. The grandeur imposed by the building itself indicates that pastoralist farming was a lucrative business back in the 1880s when the house was built. We trooped in and looked around the entrance, then climbed up the main staircase admiring the stained glass window, at which point a lady appeared asking us if we required assistance. When Amanda revealed her credentials we were whisked off on a tour of the entire building, pretty special as this is now the administration centre for the university.
Among the highlights were the hand-painted glass windows in the nursery depicting scenes from nursery rhymes, but also the extravagance of the dining room was astounding.
Clutching new acquired brochures we thanked our guide profusely and headed for the Saumarez homestead, where we were welcomed by an equally accommodating caretaker, despite the fact it wasn’t open. Again the family link worked, and we explored the homestead but not inside the main house which was left pretty much as it stood when Elsie White died there at the age of 90. It has since been adopted reluctantly by the National Trust (due to maintenance costs) as it is such an important piece of heritage in the region.
With hours of exploring Amanda’s heritage behind us it was time to relax in the peaceful gardens of our host and Hannah managed to get her long-awaited ride.