11 September 2019

Former convent owned by ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ composer for sale in Binalong

| Glynis Quinlan
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If these walls could talk. A former convent which became the home of Australian film composer Bruce Smeaton is on the market in Binalong. All photos supplied by Flemings Property Services.

A grand five-bedroom home which began its life as a convent and went on to be owned by the man who composed the haunting music of Picnic at Hanging Rock is on the market in the historic village of Binalong, around an hour’s drive from Canberra.

The stately house at 6 Sykes Road was dedicated as a Catholic convent in July 1920 and for the past 28 years has been the home of Australia’s most prolific film composer, Bruce Smeaton, and his wife Mary.

The current five-bedroom home.

An old photo of the Catholic convent.

Originally the residence of four nuns and young female boarders, the house was purchased by the Smeatons in 1990, with the former chapel becoming a music studio/library and resounding to a different kind of music – film scores, advertising jingles and orchestra music.

On the market for $790,000, the Federation-style home has been extensively renovated by the Smeatons while keeping its rich character and the charm of its origins.

For example, the door between the main bedroom and the chapel still has the original sliding panel used by the priest to hear confessions while directly across from the chapel is a room without windows once used to store chapel paraphernalia while doubling as a nun’s retreat.

Mr Smeaton said that the five bedrooms all have very high ceilings, with the library’s Wunderlich pressed-tin ceiling higher still.

There are five sets of full-length French doors, stained glass windows, four verandahs (two enclosed in the mid-1920s), polished cyprus pine floors, American red cedar picture rails, double-sash windows in most rooms, and a vast Sydney sandstone fireplace in the living room.

The home’s large country kitchen, laundry and main bathroom have been completely redesigned and rebuilt by the Smeatons, who have extensively renovated the home to suit modern living needs.

“Bruce and Mary have gone to lots of trouble and made it a home with plenty of character,” said listing agent Justin Fleming of Flemings Property Services.

“It’s got a real grandeur about it,” he said. “It’s a big, impressive property.”

The home sits on 9,500 square metres of land, with expansive rural views.

“When we arrived 28 years ago the land around the house was no better than flogged-out paddocks and full of weeds,” Mr Smeaton said.

“We have planted 430 trees and countless shrubs, roses, bulbs – daffodils, jonquils, irises etc – and managed to grass the place from boundary to boundary.”

It was Mr Smeaton’s love of vintage cars that originally attracted him to the property and this is reflected in its five-bay machinery shed/carport and a spacious, well-used workshop. There are also freshwater tanks, cool room and storage sheds.

Bruce and Mary Smeaton have put a lot of love into their home but have put it on the market because they have decided to return to their home city of Melbourne to be near their daughter

For more information or to arrange an inspection contact Mr Fleming or 0429 820 389 or click here.

Original Article published by Glynis Quinlan on The RiotACT.

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