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The birth of an icon

A Hordern History

The Hordern ‘boys’, dashing, handsome, fun-loving and exceedingly rich, with a shared passion for grand motor cars, aeroplanes, polo & stock breeding, were to have the most significant impact on the Southern Highlands.

Sam Hordern II inherited the Italianate mansion Retford Park, which sits within walking distance to the North of Milton Park, on the death of his father in 1909 and continued to operate it as a stock breeding showpiece for nearly 50 years. Sam II became president of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1915 and was knighted in 1919.

Lebbeus Hordern acquired Hopewood in Bowral in 1912 and lived there until his death in 1929. Lebbeus imported the first sea plane ever to land in Australia.

In 1910 Anthony III, bought Mansfield’s Farm, a 1200 acre property, changed its name to Milton Park after taking a cursory glance at his bookshelf and seeing the word Milton on the spine of a copy of Paradise Lost, and immediately commenced to plant shelter belts of Cypress & Pine to protect his Estate from the prevalent westerly winds.


Anthony Hordern was 21 when he bought the Estate. Previously described by gossip columnists as Sydney’s most eligible bachelor with an annual income in 1910 of ‘not less than 50,000 pounds a year’. He married Viola Bingham shortly before buying Milton Park. He retained Morrow and De Putron of Sydney, the family’s favoured architects, to design his home. Their work for the Horderns included Retford Park, Hopewood, Babworth House in Darling Point and various extensions to Anthony Hordern and Sons Department Store.


The resultant Milton Park Homestead reveals European Villa Influences with an eclectic mixture of both French & Federation detailing.

In 1960 Milton Park was acquired by King Ranch of Texas and for the next 16 years was the headquarters of the company’s introduction of Quarter Horses & Santa Gertrudis cattle to Australia. National records were established at the famous Milton Park Stock Auctions that were held annually.

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From 1976 until 1984, Mary Horderns daughter, Edwina Baillieu, and her husband Peter, lived at Milton Park and continued the immaculate maintenance of the grounds.

However, by 1984 the viability of the Estate as an agricultural holding, with its Homestead, Carriage House, Stables, Cottages, Gardens and farm buildings became questionable.


The conversion of Milton Park to a country house hotel began in 1984 when Doctors Ron White & John Cooper purchased the Estate and, inspired by the Great Country House Hotels of Europe, initiated an ambitious development program to establish a luxury hotel of the finest standards at Milton Park.

In 1993 Milton Park was purchased by luxury hoteliers, Aman Resorts, and became a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux collection.

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From 1998 to 2014 the property was owned by the Dobler family. At the end of April 2014 a private consortium of shareholders Yufan Australia purchased Milton Park, they immediately fell in love with the estate and saw its true potential.

During the Yufan's ownership, they adding touches of comfort and luxury benefitting such a magnificent and historic estate includind renovations of the French Pool House, Day Spa, Fitness Studio, Tennis Pavillion, Polo Bar and Billiard Room.

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In 2023 Milton Park was purchased by Salter Brothers. Since then they have already set to work restoring the hotel's heritage-listed gardens and will soon embark on restoration work that pays homage to the glory days of the Hordern "boys".

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As part of the garden restoration, significant garden ornaments were installed.

These include the bronze chiming fountain in the guest courtyard, which came from a park in Paris, and the two large stone urns on the beech & cedar lawns that came from Anthony Horderns uncles estate in Wales, named Margam.

Milton Park is a living tribute to all those who have woven its unique fabric, and to the great natural beauty of the countryside that preceded it and inspired its custodians.

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