Mulla Villa today
Mulla Villa is situated in the scenic Hunter Valley countryside one kilometre south of the historic Wollombi village. Mulla Villa is unique among other guesthouses, set on nearly 100 acres of tranquil bush land with numerous bush walks through our natural rain-forest and working farmland. Explore our caves and see abundant flora and fauna. With plenty of onsite parking for buses and cars this picturesque location is perfect for weddings, functions, car clubs and bus groups.
The original home has been converted into a B&B with four spacious bedrooms, all with private facilities, two with spa bath ensuites. Indulge in a luxurious spa bath filled with pure, fresh rainwater. Plus we have a two-bedroom self-contained cottage that was previously the 1900’s dairy and has been recently renovated. We invite you to discover Mulla Villa with an intimate candlelight dinner in front of an impressive open log fire in the original servants quarters, now Mulla Villa Restaurant – air-conditioned for comfort on the warmer nights. The open log fire dates back to the 1830’s, and was the original kitchen / food storeroom. Purchased by the Spencer Family in November 2014 we are committed to providing country style hospitality.
Mulla Villa in the past – Hunter Valley history
Built in sandstone by convicts in 1840, Mulla Villa was the original local Magistrate’s home. Where did the name come from? We are not sure for certain but it has two possible origins. Mulla might be an aboriginal word. Or the name might be of Irish origin. Eliza Dunlop the wife of the first owner of Mulla Villa was from Ireland and there is a village called Mullagh. If you see a piece of sandstone, look at the pick marks in the stone crafted by the convicts.
David Dunlop, the Magistrate of Wollombi who organised the construction of Mulla Villa, was its first owner. He was a lawyer, born in County Antrim, Ireland in 1794. He married Eliza Hamilton Law in 1823 in Scotland, and they had five children. In February 1838 they arrived in Port Jackson and on the 10th June that year, he was appointed as the Police Magistrate at Penrith. On the 10th November 1839 he was transferred to Wollombi as its first Magistrate on a salary of £250 per annum. He held this position until the 1st January 1847, when he was succeeded by Major Benjamin Sullivan. He resided at Mulla Villa until his death on the 24th March 1863.
David Dunlop was a forceful man with strong convictions, and he was far ahead of his time in the treatment of aboriginals; “he advocated the wisdom of contracting with any willing aborigine for the completion of a limited and specific task, and then letting him return, dignity unimpaired, to his own tribal business.” He was also a difficult and quarrelsome man by nature, having been removed from office in Penrith after many disagreements with the unpaid magistrates.
He was initially popular with the free settlers by improving convict behaviour through his stern disciplinary measures, and he was an efficient administrator who involved himself heavily in the affairs of the district. But being autocratic and abrupt, he soon made enemies in the district, with people who were influential enough to have him removed through representation to Governor Gipps. It is not known at this stage what he did in the last 16 years of his life, but it is assumed that he looked after some of the official administration of government agencies in Wollombi.
Eliza Hamilton Dunlop was born in 1796 in County Armagh, Ireland, the daughter of Honour Solomon Hamilton, a judge of the Supreme Court of India. She first married James Law, an astronomer but he later died. A daughter, Georgina, was born to them in 1816 at Coleraine, Ireland. She married David Dunlop in 1823, and died on the 20th June 1880 in Sydney. She is buried next to David in the Wollombi Cemetery. Eliza was a lyric writer and a student of the aboriginals, and contributed to the literary life of the Hunter circle. Some of her early verse were sentimental in nature e.g. “The Aboriginal Mother” was written in 1838 and it expressed her dismay and outrage at the Myall Creek Massacre. Her works were published in such magazines as the “Dublin Penny Journal“, the “Australian“, and the “Maitland Mercury“. Her Australian lyrics were set to music by Isaac Nathan, and from 1842 they appeared in his “Australian Lyrics” series. A volume of her collected works “The Vase, Comprising Songs For Music and Poems” remains in manuscript in the Mitchell Library. She was one of the few people at the time to appreciate the literary worth of aboriginal songs and poetry. She translated aboriginal verse into English and recorded the aboriginal dialect in Wollombi. We hoped you enjoyed our small piece of Hunter Valley history!