The Noojee Lea Homestead is located on the northern end of Portions 23 and 24 which are two narrow blocks with frontages to the Belubula River.
These Portions (then known as Portion 69/8 and Portion 69/9 respectively) were originally granted to Richard Read in 1869 by a “grant of land sold at upset price after attempted sale by auction”. The property then passed through ownership to Thomas Townsend in 1876, to Stephen Chandler in 1881, to William Henry Boxall in 1889 and to John Edwards in 1907, who sold the property to Frederick Thomas Matthews on 3 February 1910.Frederick Thomas Matthews, who had been born in Berry, New South Wales had later operated the general store at Bellingen, where he was Mayor. Following the sale of the store, the family moved to Mosman prior to Frederick Thomas Matthews purchasing the land at Canowindra on which he erected the Homestead. He also purchased adjoining land comprising the property Boridgeree.
In 1913, the property Boridgeree was transferred by Frederick Thomas Matthews to Arthur William Matthews and Stanley Ethelred Matthews. In 1925, Arthur William Matthews became the sole owner of the property and following his death, his widow moved to Sydney with her three year old son David to attend to his education at Mosman Preparatory School, Shore and Hawkesbury Agricultural College. Later, David Matthews and his wife Nadine farmed Boridgeree.Photographs from the time show servants carrying coal scuttles to service the seven fireplaces and the large AGA stove in the Homestead. In the grounds of the Homestead is a dairy, a meat house and a Coach House which some years ago was converted to a cottage.
In 1915, Frederick Thomas Matthews transferred the Noojee Lea Homestead property to his five daughters being sisters of Arthur William Matthews, who in 1936, transferred the property to Edwin, Alexander and Henry Traves. The Traves family held the property until 1951, when they sold the Noojee Lea Homestead property to Frank Maurice Felton, together with land to the east which the Traves family also owned. The remainder of the Matthews property to the west (being the Boridgeree property) remained in the ownership of the Matthews family.
It is believed that Frank Maurice Felton is the person who built the guest wing at Noojee Lea and installed central heating, before selling the consolidated property in 1955 to Arthur Heness Buckley and William John Buckley.
The Curran family purchased the property from the Buckley family in 1981. At the time of the purchase of Noojee Lea, there was an established garden, the northern boundary of which was in line with the rear of the tennis court which was then not in commission. Soon after the purchase, the family established the line of London plane trees on either side of the entrance road.
Marcia Hosking provided a garden design which included a Chinese elm in the front lawn bounded by the circular drive. Her design also incorporated the planting of a number of trees in the garden and the planting of a number of replacement trees in the orchard.
Subsequently, the tennis court was refurbished and a wisteria pergola was built beside the tennis court, replicating a pergola which had been seen during a visit to the Murdoch property Cavan on the Yass River. The wisteria pergola provides an entry walk for guests who might park in the adjoining paddock.
In 2010, in accordance with an attractive plan that was prepared by landscape designer Sally Bourne of Gooloogong, the garden was extended to the north, enabling the expansion of the orchard with the balance of the area becoming an open lawn area. At the same time, the timber fence to the south of the front garden was replaced by a wire fence to give a view to the vineyard and the river flats beyond. This design gave a more expansive sense to the garden which had previously appeared somewhat narrow and constrained. At the same time, a silverberry (Elaeagnus–Russian olive) hedge was established beyond the croquet lawn to create an enclosed square for later garden development.
The Melbourne-based and internationally acclaimed landscape designer Paul Bangay had in 2015 designed a garden for the Sydney home of the Curran family. In 2016, Paul Bangay designed the Western Courtyard at the rear of the Homestead which comprises a herb garden, rose bushes and other shrubs and plants, together with a central fountain which was constructed by the Eugowra builder Herb Beer. The Western Courtyard includes a wisteria patio outdoor dining area with matching double doors at either end, one connecting to the main kitchen area and the other connecting to the Guest Wing kitchenette. In accordance with a design prepared by architect Susan Rothwell, a feature was added to the garage roof, as had been adopted in many designs prepared by the well-known architect Leslie Wilkinson. This feature provides an interesting addition to the vista from the Western Courtyard, including at night when it is illuminated. The brick paving in the Western Courtyard was laid by Canowindra craftsman Bill Sheer.
The area enclosed by the silverberry hedge has now been established as a Walled Garden, which was also designed by Paul Bangay. Access from the northern end of the croquet lawn is through an archway builtin a drystone wall style by Bill Sheer to Paul Bangay’s design.Bill Sheer also built the stone gate posts for the Sunrise Gates, adjacent to the Walled Garden. The stones are from the hills adjacent to the Fish Fossil site and would therefore be over 300 million years old. The Walled Garden has two main avenues which intersect at a central pond, constructed by Herb Beer and rendered by Bill Sheer. There is an arbour and two Paul Bangay designed berry cages, fabricated by Darren Cowan Mobile Welding & Fabrication Pty Ltd of Forbes and installed by Herb Beer.
The recent garden renovation also included the elimination of the driveway from the old Coach House to the front of the Homestead to make the garden safer for children. The driveway area has been grassed which provides a link between the Northern Verandah and the tennis court, the croquet lawn and the Walled Garden.
The establishment of the Western Courtyard and the Walled Garden has been undertaken by Bob Fallon, with the assistance of a number of local support staff. The roses have been supplied by Luke Gordon of Eureka Plants and many of the other shrubs and plants have been supplied by Chris Cuddy of Perennialle Plants, both being local Canowindra nurseries with Australia-wide reputations.The Curran family is pleased to be supporting the Canowindra Soldiers Memorial Hospital through the Canowindra Garden Club Open Day. It is hoped that visitors can participate in Noojee Lea Open Days each year to benefit the Hospital and to enable visitors to observe the new garden areas grow to maturity.