Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sydney - Vaucluse House

If you grow up in Australia, your history lessons will include the names Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson who reputedly discovered a route across the Blue Mountains that inhibited growth to the west of Sydney. One of the trio, William Charles Wentworth, purchased land by the harbour in eastern Sydney and built a house that was named Vaucluse. The surrounding suburb takes its name from the house is one of the most wealthy and exclusive in Australia.

The easiest way to get out to see the house via public transport is to take a bus.

The bus driver let us know when to get off the bus and we strolled up through the grounds to the house.

The design is Gothic Revival. It looks like a two story house from the front but seems to have extra floors at the rear.

The old stables.

The original water source for the house. A small stream flowed close by.

Vegetable garden planted with what would have been planted in the 19th century.

The tour starts at the back of the house in the servants wing. The normal admission is $8 but as seniors our cost was only $4 each. Fortunately there was a very knowledgeable woman waiting to take us on a tour and she was a lot of fun.

The cold room for the butter and milk.

Servants lived above the kitchen.

The housekeeper's room. Notice the dogs on the shelf.

They look valuable but apparently they were quite cheap at the time.

Many areas have oil cloth on the floor.

The  portico leading to the main house. The courtyard seems refreshingly cool and has a Mediterranean feel to it.

Apparently a job lot of tiles was sent out from England all with the same design. You see them everywhere throughout the house.

Drain pipe.

The back hall with stairs leading to the upper floor.

Bust of William Wentworth. Although his father was an Irish highwayman and his mother a convict, he became one of the leading politicians of his time and was a strong advocate for self-government for the colonies. He died in England but his body was returned to Australia and given a state funeral.

He married Sara Cox with whom he had seven daughters and three sons. Because of William's convict mother, the family was looked down on by the high society of the time, even though they were one of the wealthiest families in Sydney. The docent who showed us around was very impressed by Sara and how well she ran the house.

Dining room. If you did not look out of the windows you could easily believe you were in England.

Painting of three of the younger daughters. They were also looked down on because of the convict stain. The one in the middle never married.

The drawing room is a delightful room and looks quite comfortable. With the strong Australian sun it would never be gloomy.

Of course there is a piano for entertainment.

Bridge table for cards.

Steps leading to the top floor.

Private family sitting room.

Main bedroom.

For your riding boots.

One of the boys slept in this walled off part of a corridor so that he did not have to sleep in a room with his sisters.

Girl's bed room.

Now this is a small chair.

Another bedroom for the girls.

What a great staircase. It seems to float in air.


I was intrigued by the red curtains glowing in the afternoon sun.

Tastes have changed over time.

Portrait of William.

The tour was over and so Robin and I inspected the stables while Marianne talked with the docent and a woman from New Zealand who had been on the tour with us.

The stable rooms are very plain but I reckon this would have made a good room for my stereo system.

It was time to leave so we walked down this path towards the front of the house.

The vegetation is quite lush.

I think you would get very attached to this house if you lived there. However the rooms can get quite cold in winter.

Path down to the harbour.

The grounds include a few Bunya Pine trees. The docent reckoned they were grown because they were so tall and could be seen from miles away to mark where your house was.

Instead of taking a bus back to the city we walked to the nearby Watsons Bay wharf. The path crosses a small bay by this footbridge.

The small beach.

The houses in this suburb are incredibly expensive. Most are hidden by tall fences and one in particular had a huge dog that barked at us as we strolled past. We were intrigued by the modern statues on this balcony.

A ferry arrived at Watsons Bay Wharf to find that the public ferries to this wharf had stopped for the day. The last public ferry leaves at 3:50 pm which seems a bit early in the day for public transport. Only this privately owned 'fast ferry' was available for $8. Since we had our seniors $2.50 all day ticket we walked up the hill and took a bus.

We all really enjoyed the visit to the house. The docent was particularly good. She had been leading tours for almost twenty years and she really knew her stuff. Oddly enough she had been at the same concert that we had attended at the Opera House the day before.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative and thoroughly enjoyable! I also experienced this tour with my Interior Design class earlier this year and found the house and it's architectural elements fascinating.

    Keep up the blog posts Ray :)