Tuesday, June 5, 2012

John Dickson Wyselaskie 1818 - 1883


This memorial is to John Dickson Wyselaskie of "Narrapumelap" Wickliffe, native of "Sanquhar", Dummfrieshire, Scotland.  A biography by J. Ann Hone reports that Wyselaskie explored land north to the Mallee in Victoria and then took up a run (presumably a "sheep run") near Bunninyong.  In 1840 he left to take up Narrapumelap, 40,000 acres on the Hopkins River. His first years were difficult.  He eventually purchased the land and formed a flock of merino sheep which became noted for its fine quality wool. In 1873 he built a French Gothic Mansion which he called Narrapumelap after the land. Today the Mansion stands proud in manicured gardens and is available for tours.  It is on my "must see" list.

He and his wife, Mary Jane Austin, nee Farrell, moved to Melbourne in 1878 where they built Wickliffe House a grand mansion located on the corner of Pollington Street and the Upper Esplanade in St. Kilda. This is a prime location with views over Port Philip Bay.  John lived here in retirement and poor health until his death of apoplexy on 4 May 1883.  He is at rest at Boroondara Cemetery.  He left an estate of 72,337 pounds in realty and 28,063 pounds personally.  Being childless he bequeathed most of his wealth to the Church. His epitaph reads "A good and just man's memory is forever blest".

In 1912 Wickliffe House was converted into a cafe with a theatre called the Arcadia.  I plan to visit this spot to see what exists there today.

Contributed to Julie's Taphophile Tragics. Click the link to view other participants of this meme.

17 comments:

  1. His grand mansion looks like it would make a nice theatre and cafe - moreso than a house (it does rather dwarf the surrounding buildings a bit!)

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  2. too far to be on my must see list , althought my son is touring around Australia right now
    greetings from brussels
    anni

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  3. Another staunch pioneer! Looking at the inner strength of such lives makes me feel very humble. Interesting post.

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  4. No no no Joe! I think his mansion is the Esplanade Hotel which is on the corner of Pollington & Upper Esplanade. Much altered mind you. An abomination in fact.

    Whereas Narrapumelap looks drop dead gorgeous, and only $140 per couple per night. Very reasonable. Out in the Western District, eh?

    The statue makes him appear to have a Lincolnesque beard. His surname does not ring Scottish to me, but maybe it is in a brogue? I wonder why he felt the need to be resting upon two books. Or why someone felt that need on his behalf. Book learning, on the surface, does not appear to have featured in his life.

    Yes, please, go out to St Kilda and see if you can reconcile the Hotel Esplanade with that mansion beside the Plume pump.

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    1. You could well be right Julie. Will pop down on the weekend check it out and post a follow up photo on Taphophile Tragics next Tuesday. Narrapumelap does look pretty special and well priced. I was going to send this blogpost to them but they do not appear to ave an email address on their website.

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  5. What a great story, the names are so evocative. Please report back on Arcadia.

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  6. What a fantastic post. Great picture.

    Herding Cats

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    1. Appreciate your comments Nicola.

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  7. Great post Joe and look forward to what you find when you go put Wickliffe House hunting. Hope that you do not find that it has turned into an abomination as Julie says. It would be a pity.

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  8. Narrapumelap would definitely be on my list of places to explore also Joe. I do like the uplifting angle you've taken with Mr. Wydelaskie and books do seem to feature, I think one of the cherubs also seems to be having a read!

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  9. he is very high up there and looking serious! somehow funny with the cute angels underneath..

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  10. I agree with everyone that Narrapumelap looks fabulous, and I would much rather live there than in the building you link to. I hope Mary Jane Austin predeceased her husband, or that he did not forget to provide for her when he gave all his money to the church! Your POV makes him look more like a politician (Lincolnesque, yes) than a successful pastoralist.

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  11. Wickliffe House was under a demolition order in 1959. It wasn't the "Espy" or Esplanade Hotel as mentioned by others previously. It was only a two storey mansion/house and photos from 1950 show it to the left of an 'Ampol' service station. It can also be seen in other earlier period photos with the 'Espy' shown as well from a photo taken from the end of the St Kilda Pier (pre 1900 possibly)

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  12. Also see: 18-01-1873: Wyselaskie’s ‘Narrapumelap’ Homestead at Wickliffe.
    post at: http://wp.me/p28nLD-Pa

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