Former Fairfax family estate hits the market for $12 million

A stunning country estate that was built for media mogul John Fairfax’s grandson, has hit the market with an asking price of $12 million.

The historic Southern Highlands estate in picturesque Bowral was built in the 1880s as a country retreat for Charles B Fairfax – the grandson of Herald founder John Fairfax – and his wife Florence.

Known as Knoyle Estate, the 4.54ha property, has a total of 2000sq m of internal space with 31 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms and space for six cars over four residences, including the two-storey main estate and three guest houses. 

The luxurious estate boasts a collection of residences on the grounds, including a main house spanning 1155sq m, with 14 bedrooms, five living/dining rooms, and seven bathrooms, along with two kitchens. 

Additionally, the estate offers three guest houses, each with its own unique features, with the largest guest house offering eight bedrooms, one living and dining room, and two bathrooms.

The Queen Anne style has influences of the Gothic Revival and Arts and Crafts style, with features of the main residence including an impressive entrance leading to a vast stair hall with sweeping cantilevered cedar staircase, detailed plaster arches, impeccably designed bay windows and 13-inch ceilings. 

The park-like gardens feature rare specimen trees, lush green lawns and beautiful flowers with century-old trees, mature plantings and full arch canopies, as well as an incredibly rare, permanent seven-level private labyrinth, a rewarding source of relaxation, refreshment and insight.

Knoyle Estate first hit the market at the start of 2022, but a fresh campaign is being launched by agents Nathan Berlyn and Andrew Blake.

Frank Knight agent, Nathan Berlyn said the property was steeped in history, being of great historical significance for Bowral and having ties to the Fairfax family.

“It has had a variety of uses, being a boarding school at one point, and the additions over time have created an incredible offering, with complete privacy and wide pretty garden vistas” Mr Berlyn said.

“It’s also one of the largest landholdings and oldest gardens in the suburb of Burradoo and the Southern Highlands region.” 

He said Knoyle Estate is architecturally and historically like another former Fairfax family estate, Elaine, one of Sydney Harbour’s most significant properties.

Knight Frank agent Andrew Blake, said the property was expected to attract a variety of buyers, including owner-occupiers intending to live in it, as well as investors and developers, particularly given the size of the landholding and the multitude of options for the property moving forward. 

“The property could be used in its current form as a grand home, but there is also the opportunity to repurpose the residence, as well as to develop, subject to council approval and hence for it to instead be a commercial acquisition,” Mr Blake said.

“Other possible uses include a bed and breakfast or a country hotel with the demand for premium accommodation in the area, a luxury wellness retreat, a wedding or events venue, a cooking school, an art gallery or even as a retail outlet for antique dealers. 

“There is also the potential for a group homes and seniors’ living.”

He said the property currently sits on three titles, with the potential for subdivision and dual occupancies.

“Not only is it on a large landholding, but its location is ideal, being just a three-minute drive from the thriving town of Bowral, with its café culture and village atmosphere,” Mr Blake said.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.