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Shire of Mundaring

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Darlington Rd Darlington

Location Details

Just off Darlington Road, between Dalry and Coulson Roads.

Other Name(s)

Saw Estate

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1890

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
Heritage List YES 08 Mar 2016
State Register Registered 22 Nov 2005 Register Entry
Assessment Documentation
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Classified by the National Trust Classified 24 Jul 1980

Heritage Council
Municipal Inventory Adopted

Statement of Significance

Holmesdale has a very high social and historic significance for it's association with Amherst, who was a very important State and local figure, especially in the development of the Darlington community. To a lesser extent, it is also important for it's associations with saw who later donated the adjacent land to the University. The house has a strong social significance for the people of Darlington and has aesthetic significance as an excellent example of early stone houses which characterise the 'village'. This significance is strengthened by it's high authenticity and integrity which give the house added qualities of representativeness and rarity.

Physical Description

Holmesdale is located on a large residential lot just off the low (west) side of Darlington Road, Darlington. Whilst the original land holding was subdivided into smaller lots, the residence still has the feeling of spacious grounds. The house would have originally been approached from the low side, or south-west, but the point of arrival is now from the east off Darlington Road. However the outlook to the west remains much as it would have although the trees obscure some of the view to the west and the city beyond.
The house is built of a local granite and dolerite stone laid in rough coursing but with a joint struck in the cement mortar to give an impression of more regular joints. The 'M' roof is of corrugated iron with a wide veranda attached below the eaves on the south-west and north-east sides. The natural ground level drops away sufficiently on the west to facilitate the construction of a cellar below the house and is accessed via a stair from the south-west, "front" veranda. The cellar is of stone construction, however additional basement area under the house has been infilled with weather-boards. An entry portico on the south-east is a later addition but is in keeping with the timber detailing of the veranda. However, a slight variance in the proportions of the portico, compared with the original elements of the house, serves to distinguish between the old and the more recent fabric. Adjacent to the entry, and set into the hill just below Darlington Road, is a stone garage with red brick quoins which contrast rather unsympathetically with the other stonework of the house.
Holmesdale has been built in two main stages which are evident from an inspection of the fabric internally and externally in the variation in stone. The original 'Amherst' residence comprises the rooms to the front (south-west) of the house. During the time of the Saw's, major alterations occurred on the rear (north-east), in the form of added rooms. These included an internal kitchen and a veranda across the back which have been further altered and enclosed over the years. The original rooms are simply finished and not highly decorative. They still have complete authenticity and integrity with their timber floors, plastered walls and 'mini-orb' corrugated iron ceilings. The newer section of the house to the rear is identified by a change in floor level (one step up) and plasterboard ceilings. The veranda at the rear has been enclosed to provide additional informal living space and bedrooms.


In cl890 (or late 1880's), 'Holmesdale' was built for the Hon. Josceline Amherst, who came to Western Australia in 1885, as Governor Broome's private secretary and Clerk of the Executive Council. Amherst was drawn to the hills after Surgeon Alfred Waylen's March 1886 offer of shares in the Darlington Vineyard he'd established in 1884. Before building Holmesdale, Amherst may have lived in the vineyard's existing 3 roomed cottage. Holmesdale was built on part of Lot 71, an Eastern Railway allotment purchased by Waylen in October 1886. The "blue" granite for the house was said to have been laid by the same Italian stonemasons (Source: MHHS) supposed to be responsible for the Darlington Vineyard Cellars, now part of the Darlington Hall (Site 139). Amherst is said to have been responsible for some of the carpentry work in both his house and the cellars. Holmesdale was named after his family's estate in Kent, England.
Amherst took an active interest in the vine and fruit growing associations in the hills. He also encouraged his gardener, Mauritian Francois Arekion in his tea planting experiments. Arekion came to Holmesdale in 1889, when frost and financial difficulties forced him to abandon his Chittawarra Brook nursery at Smith's Mill. Amherst headed the committee which was responsible for building the Smith's Mill Agricultural Hall in 1897. The name "Amherst" was officially given to the Government townsite at Smith's Mill locality for a brief period in 1902, before it was reverted to the better known local name. Smith's Mill became Glen Forrest in October 1915. Amherst took an active role in local government, being a member of Swan Road Board and, in 1898, the innaugural Chairman of Darling Range Road Board.
After Amherst died in February 1900, Holmesdale was purchased by former publican of the Mundaring Hotel, John C Chipper, grandson of the John Chipper who is associated with Chipper's Leap. After Chipper's death in 1906, the property was purchased by William Allnut Saw, of the Department of Lands and Surveys. Between 1924 and 1934, a golf course operated on the western section of Holmesdale, then known as the Saw Estate. After the golf course was no longer used, the Saw family donated the land tot he University of Western Australia which sub-divided the land for housing in the early 1970's.
Except for a few changes to the rear of the house c.1950, few alterations to Holmesdale have been made. An assessment and report by the National Trust was completed in 1980.


Integrity: Very high, still used as a private residence.
Modifications: Additions and veranda enclosures to rear (east)


good-some rising damp affecting stonework; eaves and quoins damaged in 1969 Meckering earthquake


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
MHHS File; "Darlington".
I Elliot; ibid pp. 162, 180, 194-197, 277

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
7026 Images CD No. 30 : assessment images : Blackboy Hill Site, Holmesdale, Mt Helena Tavern, Undercliffe. C D Rom 2004

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Present Use RESIDENTIAL Single storey residence
Original Use RESIDENTIAL Single storey residence

Architectural Styles

Federation Queen Anne

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other TIMBER Weatherboard
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron
Wall STONE Granite

Historic Themes

General Specific
OCCUPATIONS Rural industry & market gardening
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Land allocation & subdivision
PEOPLE Early settlers

Creation Date

30 May 1989

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

10 Feb 2017


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.