"Hy Brasil" (house) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

About us

"Hy Brasil" (house)

Item details

Name of item: "Hy Brasil" (house)
Other name/s: The Gem
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 60 and 62 Chisholm Avenue, Avalon Beach, NSW 2107
Parish: Narrabeen
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Northern Beaches


60 and 62 Chisholm Avenue, Avalon Beach
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
60 and 62 Chisholm AvenueAvalon BeachNorthern BeachesNarrabeenCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Hy Brasil is of local and state-wide significance as one of three 'organic' houses designed by Alexander Stewart Jolly in Avalon. Hy Brasil with its simple construction of stone and timber and set in its native bushland setting represents Jolly's architecture and philosophy regarding the built form and its relationship to the natural Australian landscape (Heritage Office, 2007).

The house and its landscape are of high heritage significance. The listing includes the interiors of the house; however detailed analysis and assessment should be undertaken at the time of any future changes to the interior in order to ascertain the relative heritage significance.
Date significance updated: 07 Jan 15
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Alexander Stewart Jolly
Physical description: (Quoted from the Heritage Council Branch Managers Report No.300/80 24 October 1980; plant names added by Stuart Read, 20/8/08 provided at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2270157).

Residence of Interwar exotic style distinctive to the architect. Satisfying use of natural materials and simple forms to harmonise with the bush setting. Single storey stone house with stone chimney and terracotta tile roof.

Hy-Brasil originally comprised a main living space with verandas to the west and east and bedroom and kitchen to the south. Constructed of local rock faced sandstone. The house has been planned around a large central stone fireplace and the use of natural materials of stone and timber represents a distinct 'organic' design philosophy. Particular interest exists with the fireplace structure as the mantel consists of a three metre long stone slab.

The house has a contemporary style in its design influenced by Californian Bungalow and Organic architectural movements with the use of large picture windows, exposed internal stained timber rafters and beams coupled with a low pitched horizontal roof.

Hy-Brasil which derives its name from the mythical Isle location of the Garden of Eden, has magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean to the east and Pittwater to the west. Pedestrian access to the house via a narrow winding pathway up a steep slope through large sandstone boulders.

Native trees have been retained around the house and supplemented by plantings of ornamental exotics, notably sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), pampas grass (Cortaderia sp.), fruit salad plant (Monstera deliciosa), tree ferns (Cyathea sp.), giant bird-of-paradise flower (Strelitzia nicolai) and azaleas (Rhododendron indicum cv.s).

Extensive use has been made of the local sandstone which has been cut to provide steps, garden seats, retaining walls, pools and a barbeque.

The area to the west of the house contains terraced lawns leading down to a sandstone cliff which forms a well-defined boundary to the property. Below the cliff, natural bushland extends down to the properties below.

The overall impression of Hy-Brasil's setting is one of blending of the house into natural bushland.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Generally in good condition.
Date condition updated:15 Jul 14
Modifications and dates: The later addition log cabin has been demolished in 2006 and replaced with a new residence.
Current use: Residence
Former use: Holiday retreat


Historical notes: (Quoted from the Heritage Council Branch Managers Report No.300/80 24 October 1980 provided at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2270157)

The site "Hy-Brasil", is part of lands acquired by Mr. & Mrs. Ted Herman and held over many years with the intention of protecting the hill-top setting of the Alexander Jolly designed house at its centre. Ted Herman is the son of the important 20th century Australian painter Sali Herman, and his daughter Nada is also a successful painter.

The land on which Hy-Brasil is located was originally part of 1200 acres of land granted to John Joseph Therry on 31 August 1833. It was subdivided as part of the Pittwater Estate, a subdivision for villa sites. The first owners of the land (Lot 8A of the Pittwater estate subdivision - main part of the site where Hy-Brasil stands now) were Joseph Dalton and Daniel Claney who transferred the land to George Holland in December 1882. Holland held the possession of the land until July 1927 when he sold it to Redway Thomas Pawley and Arthur George Potter. The ownership of the land passed on to Albert Travers Black after just two months and a year later Kathleen Wilhelmina Jolly wife of the Alexander Stewart Jolly purchased it from Albert Travers Black in 1923. She became the registered proprietor of the land on 4 March 1931

Mrs Jolly transferred the land, which was still undeveloped together with its surrounding neighbouring allotments, to the Australian Land Development & Investment Company limited on 15 April of the same year. Eventually the land was purchased by Arthur Wilson on 24 June 1935 and shortly after he commissioned Alexander S. Jolly to design a weekend retreat on the property and called it 'The Gem'.

'The Gem', a stone and timber cabin now known as Hy-Brasil was built in 1936. Another change in ownership occurred in February 1949 and Rachel Jane Donaldson became the registered proprietor of the property. She held the ownership of the house until it was bought by Ted Herman in 1958. The name Hy Brasil, which denotes the “Island containing the Garden of Eden” was given at this stage. (CityPlan Heritage January 2006)

Hy Brasil was nominated for a Permanent Conservation Order in 1980 with the valuable contribution of Ted Herman, who saved the house from deterioration and sought its heritage listing on the Register of the National Estate. The Order was placed on 31 July 1981 and was transferred to the State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

The item has also been on the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 20th Century Register of Significant Buildings since 1979.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Hy Brasil is of local and State significance as an excellent example of twentieth century 'organic' architecture and is one of two works by the notable architect Alexander Stewart Jolly listed on the National Trust Register . The unique bushland setting of the building, large tiles and stone terracing form an integral part of the design philosophy. This distinctive style influenced the later 'Sydney School' architectural movement of the mid sixties. (Heritage Council Branch Managers Report No.300/80 24 October 1980).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Associated with an important architect (A.S Jolly) and owner-resident (Ted Herman).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The ridge-top siting of Hy Brasil is prominent from the surrounding area and takes advantage of superb panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Pittwater. Native bushland has been retained and enhanced by the well chosen exotic ornamental planting to provide a setting which complements the natural qualities of the house. (Heritage Council Branch Managers Report No.300/80 24 October 1980).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Held in high regard by the local community and the Australian Institute of Architects for its historical connection with Alexander Stewart Jolly.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The house has potential to provide evidence on the construction system of Alexander Stewart Jolly houses.
SHR Criteria f)
One of a small number of intact houses within a distinctive local style, by the architect A.S Jolly. Rare, expansive bushland setting.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative of the small, romantic and architecturally intentional cottages forming an important part of the municipality’s diverse housing stock.
Integrity/Intactness: Although its setting has received some development, the home itself retains a high level of integrity in its fabric.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

The house should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Impact Statement should be prepared for the house prior to any major works being undertaken. Photographic Archival Recording should be undertaken before major changes in accordance with the NSW Heritage Office guidelines for Photographic Recording of Heritage Items using Film or Digital Capture (2006). A CMP should be prepared to guide continuing use of the house and setting.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan 227015715 Aug 14   
Local Environmental Plan     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Barrenjoey Peninsula & Pittwater Heritage Study1989 Macdonald Mcphee P/L Craig Burton  No
Pittwater Community Based Heritage Study Review2015 City Plan Heritage  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGeoff Searl1988Warringah History
WrittenGraham Jahn1997Sydney Architecture
WrittenJan Roberts1999Avalon Landscape & Harmony,
WrittenNSW Heritage Branch1980Heritage Council Branch Managers Report No.300/80 24 October 1980

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2270157

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.