"Loggan Rock" (house) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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"Loggan Rock" (house)

Item details

Name of item: "Loggan Rock" (house)
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 111 Whale Beach Road, Avalon Beach, NSW 2108
Parish: Narrabeen
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Northern Beaches


Lot 43 DP 732641
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
111 Whale Beach RoadAvalon BeachNorthern BeachesNarrabeenCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

'Loggan Rock', completed in 1931, is significant as a representative example of the architectural works and philosophy of Alexander Stewart Jolly in the 1930s. It exhibits a rare aesthetic value in its form, morphology, period of construction, use of materials and sensitive relationship to the landscape in the Palm Beach area. The residence exhibits Baroque rustication using colours, textures and materials from the site and the surrounding bushland. The main feature of the cabin is the dominant fireplace and chimney stack. The building is of an organic form using tree trunks for support, shingles for the roof and branches as window mullions.

The tower is considered to be a significant element of this Avalon Beach site and was completed in 1934. Although the designer and date cannot be attributed to the tower there is evidence of a strong association with Jolly and his building activities in the area. The 1954 addition to the northwest of the tower is considered to be an interesting later addition to the site that is a good example of early sympathetic additions to a heritage significant place. As an example of the International style of residential architecture the addition is not considered to be a fine example of its type. It is neither a seminal example nor the high point of the style and does not demonstrate landmark qualities. It only has loose association with the style and is not aesthetically distinctive as its International style characteristics are diluted in comparison with the excellent examples of the 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: 15 Jul 14
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
Construction years: 1929-1931
Physical description: The following description has been compiled from the Heritage Assessment by City Plan Heritage (2003):

The subject site contains a number of important elements including a stone and timber cabin (‘Loggan Rock’), stone tower, 1950s addition that wraps around the stone tower, landscape features, rock outcrops, retaining walls and dense patches of vegetation.

The ‘Loggan Rock’ was designed by Alexander Stewart Jolly and commissioned by Colonel Lionel James Hurley. It was constructed By A.S. Jolly and Lionel Hurley. The building once completed in 1931 was named ‘Loggan Rock’.

The site itself is located on a natural saddle defined by Whale Beach and Rayner Roads. A.S. Jolly designed ‘Loggan Rock’ to respond to the physical constraints of the site which is situated at the base of a Hawkesbury Sandstone cliff like peak on Whale Beach Head (Careel Head) giving it a sheltered position amongst large overhanging rocks which are located to the east and north as well as mature trees to the south and west.

Loggan Rock can be described as a log and sandstone cabin that is located on a rocky outcrop on the western side of Careel Head. For many the cabin has the appearance of a ‘Hansel and Gretel’ cottage and is described in the State Heritage Inventory as Baroque rustication using colours, textures and materials. The cabin is dominated by a stone chimney and large fireplace, tree trunks for support and shingle gabled roof. Windows silhouetted by tree branches panes between forks. Rustic furniture."

Essentially the cabin consists of a single room, single storey structure constructed of ‘found’ timber and sandstone. It features a rough-cut stone chimney on the western elevation, large timber panel swing doors to the northern and eastern elevations and timber framed windows with mullions formed by found tree branches. Other features of the cabin include various stair cases to viewing seats and platforms, vertical rolled timber logs to the gable end, an internal mezzanine bed level, large tree stumps as posts to the veranda and other outdoor features such as seats, showers, fireplaces and viewing platforms. The cabin was sympathetically restored by Lesiuk Associates in 1997 and today functions as a guesthouse/retreat for the owners.

In terms of its position in the landscape it "snuggles into the natural bushland setting" and according to Anderson it "must be considered as Jolly’s most original and interesting works".

The tower which also snuggles into the natural bushland setting was built in 1934. It is presumed that the tower was also designed by A.S. Jolly though no historical research has attributed the tower to him. The appearance of the tower evokes the design of neighbouring Careel House which was designed by Alexander Stewart Jolly.

The tower was the main living residence until the construction of the 1954 addition. It is believed that the tower was refurbished by Hilary and John Bonar Dunlop, presumably during the construction of the additions, and features a bedroom on each of the two upper levels and a bath and laundry on the ground floor.

The 1954 additions which were added by Hilary and John Bonar Dunlop and are sited to the immediate north east of the cabin at the crest of the escarpment with the patio offering views along the east coast past Whale Beach provide the main living area of the residence. The lightweight modern/international style additions are attached to, and incorporate the 1934 stone tower. It is presumed, due to the size, facilities, vernacular and lightweight materials that the additions were design to be used as a weekend style retreat or beach house. The additions are single storey featuring a living room, kitchen, dining and bathroom. The additions are constructed of timber weather board cladding to a timber frame with a sandstone base and is sited on the rock outcrop with a portion of the living room cantilevered off the escarpment.

The additions feature a flat roof with wide timber lined eaves along the northern and western elevations, large plate glass windows with some horizontal proportioning. The main living room employs the former external sandstone wall of the tower as a feature wall to the living room and also features an angled northern elevation. The additions are representative of the post war international style of residential architecture.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Very good.
Date condition updated:15 Jul 14
Modifications and dates: 1934 (tower),1954 (modern wing addition) and 2011 (alterations and additions to the modern wing).


Historical notes: The subject site was originally part of 280 acre land grant to John Joseph Therry, which was made on the 11th February 1837. Before this time the land formed part of the Crown Reserve Lands within the Pittwater Region. The subject site was referred to as part of Portion 49 of the ‘Pittwater Estate’. Over the following century the Therry’s land grant was slowly subdivided.

On the 11th April 1924, James Young and Robert Jardine Browning sold a six acre parcel of land with one road, to Ernest Ebenezer Way, a gentleman of Burradoo. This parcel of land forms part of the subject site. This land was referred to as being part of Blocks 1 and 2 of the Northern Subdivision of the Pittwater Estate. These lots were then consolidated by Way into one parcel of land. However in 1928 this land was again subdivided. On the 20th February 1928, Way sold Lot 179 and Lot 180 to Harold Fredrick Kent, a Sydney solicitor.

By 1932, the land on Careel Head was progressively subdivided and sold as large residential lots. The land which forms the subject site today originally formed part of 6 lots created in 1932. These were referred to as Lot 175 to 180. All lots had access to Whale Beach Road and were orientated north-south and east-west. Soon after the lots were created, Lionel James Hurley purchased Lots 176 and 177. In the same year Alfred Dangar Burne, a Dentist from Sydney, purchased Lots 179 and 180 and commissioned A.S. Jolly to design a log cabin on this land.

Kent transferred Lot 175 with Way’s consent to Charles Berry Grieve on the 30th September, 1932. Grieve consolidated this parcel of land with that of ‘Careel House’. On the 24th November, 1932 Kent transferred Lots 176 and 177 to Lionel James Hurley a Commonwealth Official and Film Censor of Sydney. On the 19th November 1934, Kent with Way’s consent transferred Lot 178 to Margaret Doris Morgan.

Historical research on the subject site indicates that the first legal owner of ‘Loggan Rock’ was Dr. Dangar Burne from August 1929 until July 1937, when it was transferred to Lionel Hurley. Though work had commenced on ‘Loggan Rock’ and the tower prior to 1937.

In 1935, Lot 178 was transferred by a Margaret Morgan a Spinster from Harris Park and by June of the same year the land was transferred to Hurley. Two years later Lots 179 and 180 were also transferred into Hurley’s ownership and his land holding on Careel Head now included 176, 177, 178, 179 and 180 were consolidated. The consolidated land parcel stayed in the ownership of Hurley for the next fifteen years.

The main landscaping of the terraces including the Western Terrace was designed by Edna Walling and was completed in the early 1930s with the solid stone tower completed by Hurley in 1934. The historical research conducted could not ascertain conclusively whether A.S. Jolly designed the tower. However, it is presumed due to the similarities in form, materials and design to neighbouring property ‘Careel House’ that it was likely designed by A.S. Jolly. This is further supported by the State Heritage Inventory notes on ‘Loggan Rock’ where they state that the construction of ‘Loggan Rock’ consisted of two stages; the cabin and the tower.

The landscape design preferred by Jolly and Hurley was in keeping with the emergence in popularity and understanding of the native vegetation or ‘Australiana’. It is believed that the landscape of ‘Loggan Rock’ was a project that Edna Walling undertook in the 1930s.

It is believed that prior to World War II, the tower was used as a retreat from the city by Barbara Allen, an interior designer with an office in Kings Cross and during World War II by Elizabeth Eldershaw a notable artist.

In January 1950, Hurley’s land was purchased by a John Bonar Dunlop and his wife Hilary Dunlop. John Bonar Dunlop was commonly known as Bonar Dunlop and was a renowned sculptor. A portrait of Bonar Dunlop painted by a good friend Arthur Murch won the 1949 Archibald Prize.

Historical research into the works prepared by Dunlop during the 1950s did not find any sculptures related to Loggan Rock. The addition to the tower was constructed by Dunlop in 1954. It is considered that these additions are successful in that they are easily distinguishable from the tower as the architect has attempted to integrate it into the site by utilising the side of the tower as a feature inside the living area of the addition and the inclusion of sandstone and timber finishes. In December 1959, the land (Lot 4 - DP 420717) exchanged hands to a Herbert Sheridan, a doctor of Dentistry from Avalon Beach.

In the intervening years there has been some minor works to the heritage item and its curtilage.

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 to Lismore and began to practise as an architect. He produced a number of conventional works before he again moved to Sydney, in 1918, and went into practice on his own.

The first real sign of his unconventional architectural path was a house named '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, 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, the construction of ‘Loggan Rock’ (111 Whale Beach Road, Whale Beach) commenced. The site is located adjacent to Careel House (105a Whale Beach Road, Whale Beach) which was built and designed for Major and Mrs C. R. Grieve O.B.E. In 1931.

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. As one NSW Heritage SHI form mentions, "‘Loggan Rock’ as with his other Avalon dwellings, Jolly combined the roles of salesman, facilitator, architect, builder and friend." Dr Burne may not have used ‘Loggan Rock’, but legally he owned it from August 1932 until July 1937, when it was transferred to Lionel Hurley. Loggan Rock’14 became legendary not only for its organic design and construction but also for its owners, their friends and their parties.

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.

‘Stonehaven’ (The Elephant House) was built for Mr and Mrs Roy Underwood in 1933 at 182 Hudson Parade, Avalon. It was demolished in 1980. After ‘Loggan Rock’ and during his ‘Stonehaven’ job, Jolly found a second dentist client, Arthur Wilson. He sold Wilson a glorious large block of land overlooking Pittwater and the ocean, at the top of what is now Chisholm Avenue.

‘Hy-Brasil The Gem’ (62 Chisholm Avenue, Avalon Beach) was built in 1934. The glorious qualities of the site were acknowledged in 1981 when a Permanent Conservation Order was placed on the site, in recognition of its landscape qualities and particularly the integrity of the setting and preservation of vegetation on a prominent ridge.

During 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
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]
Loggan Rock is one of three historically significant houses designed by Alexander Stewart Jolly in the Avalon area (i.e. Loggan Rock, Hy-Brasil and Careel House). It is therefore considered that the subject building is historically important as a surviving example of the works of Alexander Stewart Jolly.

‘The Tower’ is important in demonstrating the built evolution of the site as one element of three distinctly separate architectural styles. Furthermore it is considered that the strong solid appearance of the tower and its design which takes advantage of the panoramic views strongly ties this built structure in form, scale and use of materials with Careel House.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Loggan Rock is associated with the life and works of Alexander Stewart Jolly who moved to the Avalon area after abandoning his architectural practice in Sydney following ill-health in 1923. After A.S. Jolly moved to the Avalon area he worked alongside a real estate developer, A.E. Dalwood, on the Pittwater Peninsula, subdividing blocks for sale and investing in speculative land ventures. During the late 1920s and early 1930s A.S. Jolly refined his vision for peninsular houses and cabins. It is therefore considered that the heritage item has special associations with the life and works of A.S. Jolly during a period which is often referred to as the rebirth of his architectural style. It is therefore considered that Loggan Rock is important to the cultural history of the area. The heritage item has a special association with the life and works of Frank Hurley a photographer, part of legendary Antarctic expedition on the Endurance, an explorer of Papua New Guinea, photographer in the middle East during World War II and one of the early film makers in New South Wales.

The heritage item is associated with local artist John Bonar Dunlop, sculptor and subject of Arthur Murchs’ 1949 Archibald prize winning portrait, who lived in Loggan Rock during the 1950s.

The heritage item is associated with Patricia Minchin a famous Australian model who was famous as ‘Atlantic Ethyl’ in the 1930s. Patricia Minchin a friend of Lionel Hurley was married to Ralph Doyle, also known as ‘Mr RKO’, from the Commonwealth Film Censor’s Office. They often attended parties at ‘Loggan Rock’.

The heritage item is associated with Elizabeth Eldershaw a children’s book artist and comic book cartoonist who created the Emperors Kangaroo who used it as a retreat during World War II.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Loggan Rock demonstrates strong aesthetic characteristics with its honest expression in the use of stone and timber in simple forms yet intricate detailing.

The heritage item demonstrates A.S. Jolly’s rejection of the city and technological innovations of the time in favour of the use of organic designs that harmonised in colour, texture and form with the natural bushland surroundings. It is therefore considered that his creativity and imaginative use of natural materials shows an inventiveness that helped lead the way to an Australian type of sustainable vernacular that fitted in with its environment.

Loggan Rock clearly demonstrates the influence that the Californian bungalow and the Japanese vernacular style had on the architectural philosophy of A.S. Jolly.

The 1960’s additions are aesthetically representative of International style residential architecture in form and fenestration. Constructed as a retreat or beach house (a common to the type of housing in the area at the time) it employs vernacular materials that are not commonly associated with the international style. The additions, although an interesting part of the Loggan Rock site, are not considered to be an excellent aesthetic example of the International style of residential architecture but are rather typical of architect designed places of the 1950s.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Loggan Rock has both a strong and special association with the early holiday makers and weekender visitors to the Avalon area who came to appreciate the natural bushland setting.

The heritage item may have strong associations with the early film makers within the locality and of NSW because of the link with Patricia Minchin, Frank Hurley and film distributor Ralph Doyle from Commonwealth Film Censors Office.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Loggan Rock has the potential to yield further information on the subdivisions created as a result of A.S. Jolly and A.E. Dalwood a local real estate agents land speculation ventures. It is therefore considered that the heritage item provides an important link to the development and evolution of settlement on the Careel Headland as well as the wider Avalon area.
SHR Criteria f)
Loggan Rock is one of three significant dwellings (i.e. Loggan Rock, Hy-Brasil and Careel House) that were designed by A.S. Jolly that are considered to be each separate and enigmatic creations of an architect who left a small but distinctive body of work in Sydney and in the Avalon area that still remains largely unknown. Each of the three dwellings though distinctively different in their architectural expressions are all linked by their use of materials (stone and timber) sourced from the site and the local area. It is therefore considered that Loggan Rock and The Tower are rare examples of a period in Alexander Stewart Jolly’s architectural career that is referred to as his rebirth and strongly evoke his architectural vision and love of organic form.
SHR Criteria g)
Loggan Rock is considered important in demonstrating a type of leisure orientated residential development in the local area as a place constructed as a beach house or retreat.

The cabin is considered to be quintessentially representative of A.S. Jolly’s architecture and philosophy regarding the built form and its relationship to the natural Australian landscape.

The 1954 addition is stylistically representative of the international style of architecture although the use of materials and internal fit out demonstrate a more vernacular quality. The additions are not considered to be significant as a representative example of the International style of residential architecture due to the use of materials. It also lacks a number of the principle characteristics of the style such as the expression of the structural frame, sun control devices and true Corbusian type windows. Ultimately its resolution does not render it a fine example that is illustrative of the type.
Integrity/Intactness: Highly intact.
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 2014227016127 Jun 14   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
 1989B 43Barrenjoey Peninsula & Pittwater Heritage Study  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
WrittenGeoff Searl1988Warringah History
WrittenJan Roberts1999Avalon Landscape & Harmony

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

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(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: 2270161

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.