Oswald and Mildred Syme purchase Bolobek
Bolobek is situated at the foot of the Macedon Ranges less than one hours drive from Melbourne and approximately 35 minutes by car from Tullamarine Airport. It is five minutes by car from the townships of New Gisborne, Macedon and Mount Macedon and it is only a little further to Gisborne, Woodend and Kyneton.
Bolobek is an aboriginal word meaning undulating. On a map of the area that hangs in the information centre at the nearby Hanging Rock, there is an area clearly marked as the Bolobek swamp. The swamp which was a significant source of food for the local aboriginal tribes was drained during the nineteenth century. Bolobek is the site of the only known axe-grinding rock used by members of the Wurundjeri people in their former tribal territory.
The property now known as Bolobek was created when Oswald Syme, the youngest son of David Syme, founder of the Melbourne Age purchased adjoining parcels of land (parts of two former pastoral runs, Turitable and Wooling which were originally settled from 1839), between 1910 and 1914. Wooling was settled by William Robertson (no connection to the current owners) around 1840. The name Wooling apparently comes from Woolong another aboriginal word meaning “the nestling of many waters”. In its heyday Wooling had an orchard of nine acres and a kitchen garden of four acres. Wooling is purported to be the site of the first sawmill in Victoria. The fish ponds which are now obscured by “Mr Symes lake’’ were the first breeding ponds for brown trout and English Salmon trout on the mainland, the ova having been imported from Tasmania in around 1862.
It is understood that the Symes moved into the newly completed house at Bolobek on 13th January, 1911. Oswald’s wife Mildred whom he married in 1908 was by all accounts a very keen gardener and it is believed she was responsible for the layout of the original garden.
The Syme family owned Bolobek for almost sixty years. The Symes had two daughters: Nancy born in 1909 and Margaret in 1914. Nancy’s three elder children Jean, Ranald and Moira Macdonald, spent a lot of their holidays at Bolobek which was much cooler than their home in the Riverina. By all accounts the Symes were very generous hosts holding many tennis and garden parties and many charity events.
In 1969 a new era in the history of Bolobek began when the property was purchased by Robert and Joan Law-Smith. The Law-Smiths demolished the old house and many of the outbuildings, siting the new house (although much smaller than the original) in almost exactly the same position as the 'old' Edwardian house. Joan Law-Smith was a talented gardener, artist and writer. She had exceptional taste, admirable restraint, and a preference for pastel colour schemes and over time she altered the garden to reflect these characteristics. During the Law-Smith era Bolobek continued as an agricultural enterprise.
In 1990 the Law-Smiths decided to sell Bolobek and it passed through a number of hands until it was bought by Greville and Jill Edgerton around 2002. The Edgertons began a rescue operation of the garden and of the property both of which had been neglected prior to their ownership.
In 2006 Bolobek was sold to Hugh and Brigid Robertson. The Robertsons have since invested extraordinary passion and energy into the continuing renovation and rejuvenation of the magnificent property that is Bolobek.