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Landscape designer Paul Bangay’s masterpiece, Stonefields

The Versailles of country Victoria, Paul Bangay’s home and garden will remain in his own safe hands.
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The preeminent Australian landscape designer Paul Bangay has regained ownership of his beloved home of almost 20 years after the sale to his friend, and fellow green thumb, Jamie Durie fell through.

Stonefields is described by Paul himself as his “life’s greatest work” and on the real estate listing as “one of the world’s most celebrated private gardens”. Set on 27 hectares in Denver, between Kyneton and Daylesford in Victorian spa country, the sprawling property features a Tuscan-inspired villa, symmetrical formal hedges, oak trees, a rose garden, a 16-metre pool and even a resident peacock. It’s considered by some to be the Versailles of rural Victoria.

The pool at Paul Bangay's Stonefields
The dreamy 16-metre pool and beautifully manicured lawns provide just a snapshot of what Stonefields offers. (Credit: Forbes Global Properties)

Stonefields was advertised with a price guide of $8 million to $8.8 million, which didn’t include The Farmhouse — existing guest accommodation with four bedrooms just 100m from the main house. Jamie and a consortium of investors pitched to buy the off-market Farmhouse as well, resulting in a sale of more than $11 million in February 2023. The offer, clearly too good to refuse, ultimately did not settle according to reports and despite the property now being listed as sold by private treaty, Paul retains ownership with a view to possible business opportunities down the track with his long-time friend.

It remains to be seen whether these plans mean Paul is considering joining celeb landscaper Jamie and his business partners to turn Stonefields into a “luxury eco retreat,” as told to Homebeauitful.com.au by real estate agent Michael Gibson. The consortium, Opulus Hotels, planned to spend $70 million on the project, according to the Australian Financial Review, making it “Melbourne’s ultimate weekender”. But don’t pack your bags just yet.

Paul Bangay's chef's kitchen
It doesn’t get any more Hygge than this: imagine yourself roasting marshmallows here or poring over a good book (or both). (Credit: Forbes Global Properties)

Plans for redevelopment

It was Paul who inspired Jamie to pursue horticulture about 25 years ago; they’ve been friends ever since. The main house was to be transformed into a high-end restaurant and lobby, while up to 50 private villas were likely to dot the surrounding hills. “For me, it’s about providing a healthy hotel,” Jamie told the AFR back in February.

“We’re not building a health retreat, we’re building a luxury hotel that has the healthiest form of architecture we can possibly build with today’s technology. You don’t have to compromise on luxury if you want to tread lightly on the planet.” The Opulus Group was hoping to welcome guests in 2025, with a nightly tariff for the hotel expected to be between $900 and $1100. Watch this space.

The kitchen at Paul Bangay's Stonefields
Celeb chefs such as Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander have used the generous kitchen in Paul Bangay’s home. (Credit: Forbes Global Properties)

Garden path and gates to Paul Bangay's Stonefields
Jamie Durie owes much of his career success to Paul Bangay, and now he, along with his hotel consortium, owes him a lot of money — to the tune of $11 million! (Credit: Forbes Global Properties)

According to real estate records, Paul bought Stonefields in 2004 for $320,000, when the property was bare paddocks, a blank canvas. In two decades he’s created a living masterpiece through experimentation, and Stonefield’s gardens have inspired books and private tours. Paul’s designs are always influenced by his world travels, namely to the Middle East and Europe. “The style is classic but I try to give it a contemporary edge. I don’t like it to be too pastiche.” 

Hedges and tulips in Paul Bangay's garden
Paul Bangay’s landscape design is inspired by his travels, including to Europe and the Middle East. (Credit: Forbes Global Properties)

Now that Stonefields is complete its legacy holds endless potential and while it remains in the hands of Paul Bangay and husband Barry McNeill perhaps we can still expect to see this realised. “As a designer… you like to think you can retire, but you can never extinguish that passion inside,” Paul says on his website. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish.

Aerial view of Paul Bangay's property, Stonefields
Paul Bangay has been offering tours of his piece de resistance, Stonefields, and now more people will be able to enjoy its beauty. (Credit: Forbes Global Properties)

Stay at The Farmhouse at Stonefields 

While we wait in the wings to see what’s next for Stonefields, it’s still possible to stay at ‘The Farmhouse’, which has been open to guests for some time. Set 100 metres from the main house at Stonefields with four bedrooms, a wood-fire heater and proximity to the gardens and Paul’s rare British White cattle, it’s still the perfect country getaway, so maybe you should pack your bags afterall. Take a look at stonefieldsthefarmhouse.com.

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