Bella Vistas' Grand History

Bella Vista has been home to many of the significant cultural and historical events that have shaped the economic and social growth of Newcastle. 

Its intimate link with the leaders of BHP and distinguished visitors marks this estate as an important landmark in the growth of our city.

The most famous mansion Bella Vista was built as a residence in 1919 for the manager of Newcastle BHP Steel Works, David Baker.  The American Pittsburgh steel expert had been lured to Australia by BHP in 1912 to install and eventually manage Australia’s first steel making plant.  After extensive study, he had recommended Newcastle for a new steel-industry site over Port Kembla because of the superior Hunter coal and better port facilities.

In Baker’s “Reminiscences of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s Adventures in Steel” he writes:

“…late in December 1920 the house was complete and ready for occupancy. While I was resting at Leura, Blue Mountains, Mrs Baker arranged to move our furniture from the Ingall Street house to the new residence. This house was a great joy to Mrs Baker and to me and when the grounds were laid out under the skilful hands of W. Kirk, the company’s gardener, it was very pleasing indeed.”

David Baker was succeeded by Leslie Bradford. In later years, managers Sir Ian McLennan, Sir James McNeillSir Colin SymeMr Brian Loton and Sir James Balderstone have all resided at Bella Vista. The old dining room (now The Grand Dining Room) and “The Den” (now The Ian McLennan Private Dining Room) must have hosted many a gathering at which major decisions were made affecting the “Big Australian”.



Distinguished Visitors

Many famous people have left their mark on Bella Vista. We know that a regular guest was G.D. Delprat, whose daughter Paquita married Douglas Mawson later knighted for his services to Antarctic exploration. Mawson was certainly a guest, as was J.K. Davis, First Officer of the “Nimrod” and Sir Edgeworth David, personal friends of Mawson and fellow explorers. The legendary Essington Lewis and Harold Darling were guests, as were Edward Prince of Wales, Lord de Lisle and Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Today, Bella Vista continues its role as a centre for celebration of life in Newcastle. The estate hosts a tradition of splendour and elegance that has been enjoyed in the residence since the1920’s. All the guests’ suites are beautifully renovated and luxuriously furnished the guest bedrooms and lounge room will whisk you back to a bygone era to be savored with an oldfashioned welcome and hospitality, fit for a king.

* The magnificent functions rooms and bedrooms which hosted these dignitaries are all available for your wedding, private function, corporate meeting or special event.