On the slopes of "Mount Bellevue", in Victoria's remote King Valley, Winnie Jones is engaged in a multi-faceted farming operation focusing on robust and vigorous Welsh Black cattle.
As a child, I lived all over the world from Holland and Sweden to Thailand but when I first saw “Mount Bellevue” I knew I’d found somewhere I could really call home,” says Winnie Jones, talking about her property in the rolling countryside above the King Valley in the foothills of the Victorian Alps. “I had been breeding Welsh Black cattle on a farm in Brecon Beacons National Park in southwest Wales for 10 years so it was only natural that I would expand the breed when we settled here in 2000.”
Winnie’s father was an executive at Shell, which explains her exotic childhood, but she had always been a country girl at heart. Her father had retired to Melbourne and she was keen to have her kids grow up in Australia.
High-trellised vineyards line the driveway that climbs a hillside above the village of Myrrhee before a hand-built stone entrance announces Mount Bellevue and the Silver Metal Welsh Black Cattle Stud with a majestic panorama of paddocks and vineyards. The road swoops down between rolling, lime-green hills dotted with 100-year-old peppermint gums and red and yellow box trees. Pretty, docile black heifers and calves look up casually as you pass. A farmhouse, built from local blonde basalt stone, is ringed by an English country garden full of climbing roses and geraniums in hanging pots. Just beyond the tennis court and solar-heated pool, ducks, geese, peacocks, guinea hens and chickens peck around a large orchard. From there a grove of 70 olive trees overlooks the horse pastures and steep hills of the cattle stud and across to another ridge of vineyards before continuing in a gentle meandering patchwork of fields and bush all the way to the horizon. It is difficult to imagine a more appealing rural vista in Australia.
Mount Bellevue is small: 300 head of cattle on 445 hectares. “It is too steep to work the cattle with motorbikes so we still use horses,” Winnie says. And you get the feeling the owner, the staff and the cattle like it that way.