Bona Vista stands on what was once probably part of the land of the Gringai clan of the Wonnarua Aboriginal people. In 1822 James Phillips took up the property as one of the early land grants in the Paterson Valley (see map 1 and map 2).
In 1840 James Phillips subdivided 100 allotments from the north east portion of Bona Vista and auctioned them. These allotments adjoined the new township of Paterson and now form its southern part.
When James Phillips died in 1851 the rest of his Bona Vista estate was subdivided and advertised for sale in 1855 but not all the blocks were sold at the time. In 1859 lot 32, which would become known as Cornwall Vale, was sold to James Keppie who in turn sold it to John Harris in 1863.
In 1914 this land again became part of Bona Vista when Henry Harris sold it to Moses Smith who in 1904 had purchased the rest of the Bona Vista land that is now part of Tocal. In 1974 Tocal purchased Bona Vista from the Smith Estate.
Below is part of the 1855 plan for subdivision of Bona Vista, drawn by surveyor GB White. It includes interesing features such as the location of the Paterson lockup, punt and Scotch church (St Ann's). At bottom left it also shows some of the buildings on Bona Vista at the time.
Threlfo, Shirley. James Phillips and Bona Vista, Paterson River. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1999.