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Stonefields sale sours, prized garden estate set to rejoin market

Bonnie Campbell
Bonnie CampbellLuxury property reporter

When news emerged in January that celebrity gardener Jamie Durie was taking the reins of esteemed landscaper Paul Bangay’s Victorian rural property Stonefields, it was celebrated as a match made in real estate (and gardening) heaven.

Now, the circa $11 million deal has fallen over, as Opulus Hotels group – a consortium helmed by Jamie Durie alongside financier and hotelier Dominic Lambrinos and investment banker Kim Jacobs – has “elected not to proceed with its purchase”, according to selling agency Forbes Global Properties.

Paul Bangay at Stonefields.  Brendan McCarthy

City PR’s Tim Allerton – who represents Opulus Hotels – said souring of the deal was largely down to local backlash over the proposed $70 million transformation of the beloved residence into an eco-resort set to include up to 50 private villas nestled in hills outside Daylesford, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne.

Mr Allerton said while the boutique hotel group had the backing of the local council, it did not have the endorsement of the local community.

“We’ve taken views of the local residents into account, and they [Opulus Hotels founders] don’t want to develop a property without the support of the local community,” Mr Allerton told The Australian Financial Review.


Mr Allerton says Mr Durie and Mr Bangay remain close friends, and hope to collaborate again in the future. Mr Bangay could not be reached for comment.

Forbes’ Mike Gibson said while the previous deal included Stonefields and an adjoining property also owned by Mr Bangay, he expects any future sale be for the Stonefields property alone,

“It was a mutual arrangement, and Jamie is doing another development elsewhere, and they [Opulus] wanted to focus on that,” Mr Gibson said.

Jamie Durie and Paul Bangay remain “close friends” despite the Stonefields sale falling over.  

Mr Gibson said there were multiple interested parties when Stonefields was first offered to market, and says some of those parties were “highly likely to re-engage when news of Stonefields’ potential availability reaches them”.

“Properties like Stonefields aren’t that easy to forget, so there may well be someone out there who doesn’t want to let it get away from them a second time,” Mr Gibson said.


Stonefields has been the long-time base of Mr Bangay and husband Barry McNeill. Purchased as cow paddocks in 2004, the 27-hectare holding features a four-bedroom house, a 16-metre pool with valley views, a chef’s kitchen, walled rose garden and English-style woodland retreat.

It is understood Mr Bangay will spend Christmas at Stonefields, and reassess a new timeline for a second sales campaign in the new year.

Bonnie Campbell is the luxury property reporter at The Australian Financial Review Email Bonnie at

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