BONA VISTA

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In the small rural town of Avoca, in the Fingal Valley lies the elegant homestead of Bona Vista.

Formerly the centre for regions wealthy and rich, Bona Vista was built in stages in the 1830's and 40's. The house is backed by unusually high stone walls and was designed to resist attack from bushrangers and Aboriginals.

Under the ballroom in the east wing are the dungeons, where convict servants were confined at night. When you see the location, a row of rusty bells can still be seen above the stone steps leading down.

The basement cells overlook the main driveway to the house.

The house was built for Simeon Lord and his wife Sarah Birch. He was a harsh and punishing supervisor to his workers, who he looked down upon as slaves, who worked for only the cloths on their bodies, food and accommodation.

The servants were severely punished for insolence or disobedience and punished by way of solitary confinement or even lashings.

It is said that in 1853 two workers named Andrew Dalton and James Kelly, absconded from working. They returned sometime later to steal money and other items in an act of revenge.

After tying up all of the workers, they ransacked the house. Four policeman arrived and noticed that the shearers were not at their work and then began a shootout. The police were not armed properly and lost control of the situation. One Constable Thomas Buckmaster tried to make a run for it and was shot on the front steps through the glass panelling on the main door.

The bushrangers then escaped using the Lords own carriage taking the loot with them. They were later caught and tried.

Dalton admitted to shooting Buckmaster and also claimed that he had been treating him badly. He also informed how Simeon Lord had been mistreating the servants and put them through cruel oppression, and this is what turned them to a life of crime.

Kelly denied any involvement in the murder of Buckmaster, but he to was hung next to Dalton.

A female servant whom worked at the location stated that the bloodstain on the steps from the constable was irremovable., no matter what they did, the stain always returned.

It is said that a soul rattles chains near the kitchen, whilst other souls still remain in the underground dungeons.

It is rumoured that another murder also occurred at Bona Vista near a wood pile, but no evidence has been found to back this up.
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