"Careel House" | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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"Careel House"

Item details

Name of item: "Careel House"
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 105a Whale Beach Road, Avalon Beach, NSW 2108
Parish: Narrabeen
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Northern Beaches


Boundaries of Lot 31 DP 747256
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
105a Whale Beach RoadAvalon BeachNorthern BeachesNarrabeenCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Careel House at 105a Whale Beach Rd, Avalon Beach, was built in 1931 to a design by the Australian well-known architect Alexander Stewart Jolly, has historic and aesthetic significance as a vernacular weekender for Major & Mrs C. R. Grieve O.B.E.

The architectural heritage of the area is characterised by this house form which, in Pittwater, evolved as a structure subordinate to the landscape. Careel House, with its use of rough faced sandstone and simple detailing, is designed to harmonise with the surroundings and less visual impact. It is representative of A.S. Jolly's work of this type in the area and is an increasingly rare, intact example of its type.

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: 12 Mar 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: A.S. Jolly
Physical description: The house is located on a sloped site covered with large rocks, trees and ferns with scenic ocean views over Whale Beach. View from the street is screened by luxuriant vegetation creating a natural bush setting. 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). The overall impression of Careel House’s setting is one of blending of the house into natural bushland.

The house comprises of a single two storey structure constructed of rough faced sandstone with simple detailing. It has a low pitched gabled iron roof, stone chimney and timber windows.

The vernacular weekender’s typical features are the use of natural materials to harmonise with the natural environment, simple detailing, simple roof structure using corrugated iron, terraced areas at the rear using stone retaining walls and stairs.

Not inspected internally.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Appears to be in relatively good condition externally.
Date condition updated:21 May 14
Current use: Residential


Historical notes: The land Careel House was built on was originally part of the block of land granted to Father John Therry in 1833, whose land stretched from Whale Beach to Newport and Pittwater to the Tasman Sea. It was unoccupied until early 1900s and when first offered for sale by the Barrenjoey Land Company it did not sell. It was then subdivided and gradually since 1912 it was sold out in small blocks.

The dwelling was built in 1931 for Major & Mrs C. R. Grieve O.B.E. Designed by Alexander Stewart Jolly, it was originally built as a weekender of stone quarried on the site. During WWII it was also used as a look out point.

Alexander Stewart Jolly (1887-1957) (Biography by Australian Institute of Architects)
Jolly was born on a property near Lismore to a family of Scots timber craftsmen. Upon leaving school Jolly went into the family business, where he learned the skilled joinery techniques that are evident in his work. In 1908 he went to Sydney to work in the office of Wardell and Denning. After two years he returned and began to practise as an architect, and in 1912 he went into practice on his own. The first real sign of his unconventional architectural path was a house 'Livoni' (1918) at Balmoral. His American client wanted a backwoods hunting lodge. Jolly gave him a very unusual house: a picturesque and asymmetrical arrangement of boulder walls, rough-cast panels and shingles, with structural carpentry expressed to whimsical effect.

In the early 1920s his health deteriorated and he had to give up architecture. He joined the estate agent A.E. Dalwood in land speculation on the Palm Beach peninsula, often living on a subdivision, in a tent or cabin, until the land was sold. His imagination was free to follow its own direction, to study the twisted shapes of native timbers and rocky outcrops and, eventually, to bring forth the strange configurations that represent the last phase of his work, between 1930 and 1936. For the cabins or holiday houses on the land, Jolly used unworked stones to make craggy, irregular walls, fireplaces and chimneys; logs and branches with their bark for structural members and infill; sawn blocks of wood for flooring. These buildings were not improvised but carefully and meticulously designed and drawn.

In 1929 construction of ‘Loggan Rock’, 111 Whale Beach Road Whale Beach commenced, on the site adjacent to ‘Careel House’. In 1932, the year after Jolly designed ‘Careel House’ for the Grieves, Dr Dangar Burne bought the adjoining Lots 179 and 180 from Therry’s 1837 land grant. However, on that site Jolly had been building a log and rock cabin with and for his friend the film censor Lieutenant Colonel Lionel Hurley. With his Avalon dwellings, Jolly combined the roles of salesman, facilitator, architect, builder and friend.

In 1932 Jolly self published Adrift at Sea A Boy’s Book of Adventure and an allegorical, semiautobiographical children’s book, The Spirit of the Bush, sharing with readers his love of landscape and how Avalon restored his life.

With the Depression, land sales and building went into decline, but when the Depression eased he returned to land speculation, this time on the south coast. He did no more architectural work, and died at his Wollstonecraft home in 1957.

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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Careel House, built in 1931 by Alexander Stewart Jolly, a well-known prominent architect in Australia as one of a number of vernacular weekenders typical of the early Pittwater/Avalon subdivisions.

It is associated with the development of the Northern Beaches as a holiday destination.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Careel House is historically associated with Alexander Jolly.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Careel House has aesthetic significance as a good example of vernacular weekender typical of the early Pittwater subdivisions built using local natural materials (sandstone), simple design and traditional techniques. It also demonstrates A.S.Jolly's individual style with its naturalistic setting, and use of natural finishes internally and externally.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The house is held in high regard by the Australian Institute of Architects and Avalon Historical Society for its association with A.S. Jolly.

Social significance of the place requires a more detailed study to ascertain its value for the local community. However, it could be anticipated that the house’s vernacular style would provide a historical connection to the local community.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The house has potential to provide evidence on the construction system of vernacular weekenders.
SHR Criteria f)
This house is a rare A.S. Jolly weekender left in Pittwater.
SHR Criteria g)
This item is representative of the vernacular weekenders built in the area, with the early Pittwater subdivisions.
Integrity/Intactness: The house is intact externally
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).


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  04 Feb 94   
Local Environmental PlanPittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014227016027 Jun 14   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
 1989B42Barrenjoey Peninsula & Pittwater Heritage Study  No
Barrenjoey Peninsula & Pittwater Heritage Study1989 Macdonald Mcphee P/L Craig Burton  No
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
Written Geoff Searl1988Warringah History
WrittenAustralian Institute of Architects - NSW Architects Biographical Information2010Alexander Stewart Jolley
WrittenJan Roberts1999Avalon Landscape & Harmony

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2270160

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.

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