Grand residence comes with history
IT'S the grand Rockhampton home that hosted a British princess, an American major-general and an Australian tennis star.
But the colourful history of the heritage-listed "Clancholla" estate in Ward St began before it was even built in 1922.
Fighter pilot and grazier Stuart Roland MacDonald and his wife, Annie Elizabeth, were living next door in the mansion that now serves as offices at the Mater Hospital.
Their grandson, John MacDonald, said his grandmother told his grandfather she felt the mansion was too large for their family.
Annie asked her husband for a cottage, but the home Stuart had built for her was to one day become fit for a real princess - Princess Alexandra of Kent.
John described his grandfather as a very ambitious man, who clearly had a grand dream for his family's home.
In 1959, 22-year-old Princess Alexandra stayed at Clancholla during her tour of Australia.
John said he remembered tales of his father, Ronald Sommerville MacDonald, shooting wild ducks for the princess.
She stayed in Stuart and Annie's bedroom, which was already ahead of its time with a walk-in wardrobe for the lady of the house, a separate cupboard for the gentleman and an ensuite bathroom.
During Princess Alexandra's visit butterflies pressed between sheets of transparent rice paper were placed on the bedroom windows for extra privacy.
The elegant four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a terracotta tile roof also has a maid's bedroom, small library or office, kitchen with a large walk-in pantry, veranda and elaborate stained-glass windows.
The 8000sq m property is a private Garden of Eden, full of blooming flowers, shrubbery, mature trees and an orchard of tropical fruit trees. It remains as exquisite as it was in the 1930s, when it featured in a 1938 newspaper for its "tropical air" and bougainvilleas.
John wasn't born when Major-General Horace Fuller stayed during the late '30s and he was at boarding school during Princess Alexandra's visit.
He also missed out on seeing Rod Laver perform his famous left-handed backhand on Clancholla's tennis court.
But he'll always remember spending time with his family in the regal dining room, which has a marble fireplace.
And John said he would never forget the South Sea Islander women who worked as maids at the house.
"They brought us up," he said. "My parents were always very thankful for them."
But John said it was time for Clancholla to have a new family.
"We'd like to find it a new life," he said. "We're hoping a family will buy it and fill it."
Pat O'Driscoll Real Estate principal Pat O'Driscoll and sales consultant Penny Keating hope to auction the home before the end of the year.
"What amazes me is all the little things," Pat said. "No expense was spared. You don't find a house like this any more, it's unique."
HOME ON THE RANGE
Median house prices
Source: RP Data