The National Trust of Australia, New South Wales Division, has announced it has received the largest gift in its 70 year history of conserving the built, cultural and natural heritage of NSW.
Philanthropist and arts patron, Mr James Fairfax AC, gifted his historic Retford Park home to the National Trust of Australia along with a significant endowment for the property’s ongoing conservation and maintenance.
Speaking at the handover ceremony at Retford Park, Mr Fairfax said: “It has long been my wish that Retford Park be preserved so that future generations can see how the property was lived in and used. I know that I am transferring the property into safe hands to be preserved for future generations of Australians.”
Dr Clive Lucas OBE, President of the National Trust, commented: “The National Trust is honoured to receive this gift of the magnificent Retford Park property and the accompanying endowment which together represents the largest gift ever received by the Trust.
“Retford Park will be the first and grandest heritage property on the National Trust Heritage Trail which will run along the Old Hume Highway 31. Ultimately, heritage enthusiasts will be able to visit Retford Park at Bowral, Harper’s Mansion at Berrima, Golden Vale at Sutton Forrest, Riversdale at Goulburn and Cooma Cottage at Yass as part of a package tour of Southern Highlands Heritage,” said Dr Lucas.
Set over 33 hectares in Bowral, Retford Park has been the country home of Mr Fairfax since he acquired it as a 4 hectare holding in 1964 for £15,000. Over time, he increased the holding to 120 hectares, however 90 hectares on the eastern and western curtilage is now under development for residential purposes. A significant portion of the sale proceeds of that development will also be gifted to the National Trust Heritage Foundation to provide income for the ongoing upkeep and maintenance of the property.
“The National Trust of Australia (NSW) Heritage Foundation was established to ensure that the intent of the donations and bequests received are respected. A non-heritage property may also be donated or bequeathed to the National Trust and the asset may then be sold with the funds invested in the Foundation to help carry the donor’s name into the future,” added Dr Lucas.