The farming property "Bella Vista" situated at Carapook on the Casterton to Coleraine Road in south western Victoria was the home of the McDONALD families from the 1850 to the mid 1950's.

According to an article from an old copy of the Casterton News "Bella Vista" homestead was built by a Mr George MacDONALD between 1870 and 1878 after arriving on the property in 1850. He had no family and when he died the property was taken over Mr John McDONALD, who was the headmaster of the first school at Casterton in 1857 and later at Coleraine.

George McDonald & Christian McQueen

John McDonald appears to have been the son of George McDonald & Christian McQueen who were married at Ardclach, Nairnshire, Scotland on 8 Feb 1817. The christenings of a number of children to this couple were located in the Nairnshire records.

  1. John McDonald, chr. 1 Oct 1819, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct., d. 1885 Coleraine, Vic, Aus
  2. James McDonald, chr. 6 Sep 1821, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct.
  3. Jane McDonald, chr. 2 May 1823, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct.
  4. Dugald McDonald, chr. 13 Aug 1828, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct., d. 1899 "Ravenswood" Carapook, Vic, Aus
  5. William McDonald, chr. 13 Aug 1828, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct.
  6. Duncan McDonlad, chr. 13 Jul 1830, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct.
  7. George McDonald, chr. 24 Jun 1832, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Sct., d. 1893 "Bella Vista" Carapook, Vic, Aus, George came from mexico to Australia and built the house at "Bella Vista".

John McDonald (1819-1885) & Rachel McKenzie (1832-1894)

John McDONALD born 1819, Cawdor, Nairnshire, Scotland married Rachel McKENZIE born 1832 Nairnshire, Scotland at Portland, Victoria in 1858 and had four children:

  1. John "Jack' McDONALD born 1860 Coleraine, Vic was a Capt with the 4th New Zealand contingent and fought for about two years in the Boer War in South Africa. He also attended to coronation of King Edward VII in charge of a Maori Contingent.

    Boer War CardBoer War Card

  2. Christina Jamesina McDONALD born 1866 Coleraine, Vic has descendants living in New Zealand.

  3. George William McDONALD (OBE) born 1870 Coleraine, Vic. George was a Chemist and went to France.

  4. Norman McDONALD (BVSc) born 1872 Coleraine, Vic was Acting Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Melbourne from 1911 to 1914 when he enlisted as a Capt.with the 2nd Australian Field Artillery Brigade, 1st AIF. He took part in the landing on Gallipoli on ANZAC Day 1915 and later moved on to the Western Front in France where he was decorated (MID) and promoted to Major. He was invalided home in 1917 with a broken leg received on the battlefields of France.

"Bella Vista" Carapook, 1912

"The Pastoralist Magazine" of December 1912 featured the property of "Bella Vista" in one of its articles:

Messrs. MacDonald Bros. "Bella Vista" Estate

As the name implies "Bella Vista" commands a view of one of the most beautiful valleys in the district.

This magnificent estate, the property of Messrs. MacDonald Bros., is situated seven miles from Casterton.

Captain J. R. MacDonald saw nearly two years' active service in South Africa, and attended the Coronation of King Edward VII. in command of a Maori Contingent. Mr Norman MacDonald has for a year been Acting Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the Melbourne University.

Within the last two years the Messrs. MacDonald have established four dairy farms on the estate. Each of these farms is fitted up with the most modern appliances, and neither time, trouble, nor expense has been spared in perfecting the general equipment. Water has been laid on to the various buildings, yards and enclosures, and everything has been carefully thought out and planned with the objet of economising the time and labour of the dairy farmers. Including employees and the families of the dairy farmers there are now more than forty persons resident upon the estate.

The herd at present consists of about 400 Ayrshires and 50 pure Jerseys. The bulls are all pedigree Jerseys, purchased direct from the stud of Mr. A. L. MANNING, of NSW.

The weight of the milk from each cow is registered morning and evening on a scoring board and transferred daily into a book specially printed for the purpose. A test is taken of every cow's milk at different periods of the year, and the system of bookkeeping is so complete that it shows at a glance the monthly returns in lbs. milk, lbs. butter fat and L.s.d from each individual cow on the four farms.

The splendid results and the success attending Captain MacDonald's efforts are bound to have a beneficial effect on the dairying industry in the Casterton district, and he is proving beyond a shadow of doubt that dairying when carried on under favourable and scientific lines, is a decidedly payable industry. It is a fine object lesson, and four things that appear necessary for complete success as noted from Captain MacDonald's experience and actions are:-
  1. To secure good stock.
  2. To ascertain the actual return from each cow and to weed out the unprofitable animals.
  3. To grow sufficient fodder so the stock will not run down when feed is scarce.
  4. To observe absolute cleanliness.
Captain MacDonald has, by his characteristic energy and enthusiasm in establishing such fine model dairy farms at so much expense, done incalculable benefit to the district, and it is quite likely that others will, recognising the success attending his efforts, follow the example set. Without doubt Casterton district has plenty of room for men of Messrs. MacDonald's stamp.