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Set on a high bank overlooking the fertile flats of the Murray River, Old Blythewood stands as a testament to the industry, ingenuity and flexibility of the pioneering McLarty family. John and Mary Anne McLarty were amongst the first Europeans to settle in the Murray District around 1842. John was a tenant farmer and Mary Anne the local postmistress.
John was a tenant farmer and Mary Anne the local postmistress. As their economic situation improved, the McLartys were able to purchase their own property of some 6,100 acres. Not content to simply farm the new land, in 1860 John applied for, and was granted, a publican’s licence. Blythewood was built to accommodate not just the family but the family businesses.
Patrons of the hotel and post office entered the small rooms off the verandah while access to the family bedrooms was from the dining room and parlour. A detached kitchen block was built at the rear. John extended his business interests to bridgebuilding and road maintenance. Together with his sons he expanded the family cattle business well beyond Blythewood up into the Kimberley District.