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Appeared InLocated 2,133 feet above sea level and just over an hour’s drive from Sydney, the New South Wales Southern Highlands has been a pastoral playground for Sydney’s elite for more than 140 years.
Special IssueWWD Scoop issue 09/29/2008
Now it’s “Kurban” country.
In July, Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban purchased the Sutton Forest cattle farm Bunya Hill sight unseen for $6.5 million, upping the area’s celebrity ante.
Set on 120 acres of lush, pasture-improved land, Bunya Hill isn’t quite Faraway Downs—the fictitious Australian cattle farm the size of Belgium that is inherited by English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley, played by Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming epic, Australia, due for release on November 13. But with its rolling hills, landscaped English gardens and gracious Georgian mansion—the latter leased in the 1880s to NSW governor Lord Augustus Loftus—Bunya Hill epitomizes the complete Southern Highlands fantasy.
Nestled on a tabletop plateau of the Great Dividing Range equidistant between Sydney and Canberra, the Southern Highlands is etched with spectacular gorges and valleys and flanked by nine state forests and national parks. The region has a population of only 42,000 and comprises four main towns: Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bundanoon. Dotted around these townships are approximately 20 sleepy smaller villages that include Sutton Forest, whose “town center” consists of a pub, a church and two shops. There’s also the quaint Berrima, Australia’s only preserved Georgian colonial town, which was established in 1831, 14 years after European settlers first set up camp nearby in the now-defunct settlement of Bong Bong.
Large tracts of land were granted to explorers/settlers Charles Throsby and the NSW colony’s surveyor general John Oxley, who established important Georgian residences Throsby Park in 1834 and Wingecarribee House in 1857.