Royalty, governors, prime ministers and stars of stage and screen have all either visited or stayed at Delatite Station over the years.
Purchased by Geoffrey Ritchie and his partners Phillips and Palmer in 1902 and still owned by Ritchie’s descendants, Delatite has a rich history. First known as ‘Head Station’, the first home built on the property (in the 1830’s) by the Hunter brothers was a bark hut about 250 metres north east of the current homestead. The next owner Dr Rowe (around the 1850’s) named the property Loyola. It wasn’t until the partnership of Chenery and Goodman that it was renamed Delatite.
During the late 1850’s or early 1860’s the Chenerys constructed a fairly substantial homestead complex, of
which one section still remains. Henry Ricketson purchased the property from the Chenery family and constructed the main house and the stone and brick stables in the late 1880’s-early 1890’s.
Chris’s Cottage is thought to have been originally built in the 1860’s as the unmarried men’s quarters. In the 1920’s all but the chimneys were demolished and it was rebuilt in poured concrete.
Bob’s Cottage was built in the 1930’s to house the property’s first full-time gardener.
There is no clear record of the extent or nature of the garden during that era. It is known that there was a small garden between the older original building and the current stables. The holly tree at the north east corner of the current house, and the rose climbing along the verandah facing the formal rose garden (‘Fortune’s Yellow’), are also from that period. To the east of the house on the slopes that lead down to the river was the orchard, of which three fine pear trees still stand giving shade to the lawn.
The first Mrs Ritchie started the garden (currently about 2.5 hectares in size), but it wasn’t until Bob and Sylvia Ritchie (parents of Geoffrey, Robert and David) moved into the homestead in 1936 that the real work of creating what you see today began. Sylvia, along with her great friend and Bob’s cousin Miss May Fisher, a Burnley graduate, started a labour of love that lasted almost all their lives.
The orchard trees were incorporated into the design and framework of the garden. Elms were planted to shade an ‘English bluebell wood’, and trees and shrubs along with beds of annually planted flowers flank the generous lawns which lead down towards the river.
The grass tennis court was sculpted into the slope just below the old carriage circle. Another stone path leads from there north eastwards to a pergola covered in roses, and in earlier days lead out to a nine-hole golf course.
In June of 2000 the avenue of Radiata Pines, planted in about 1898, was removed and replaced with English and Red Oaks.
Today, Delatite’s 1800 hectares is grazed for fine wool and beef production.