Wyoming | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage



Item details

Name of item: Wyoming
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Other - Residential Buildings (private)
Location: Lat: -33.8510117536 Long: 151.1855433920
Primary address: 25 Wharf Road, Birchgrove, NSW 2041
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP65983
LOT405 DP752049
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
25 Wharf RoadBirchgroveLeichhardt  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated


Physical description: Birchgrove Point:
Birchgrove Point is a rugged narrow neck of sandstone called Yurulbin (swift running waters) by the Aboriginals because of the change in water movement around the point where the bays of the river to the west are protected from the open waters of the harbour to the east. Very deep water frontage along both sides of the point.

There are swamps and mudflats within the still waters of Snails Bay with another high, rocky headland on the southern side, and Ballast Point at its most easterly end. Views either northeast to the harbour, and/or south over Morts Dock can be achieved from most allotments along the Ballast Point headland (Godden Mackay Logan, 2004).

Wyoming - the property:
An excellent example of a Victorian Italianate waterfront villa. The property has a large Victorian era house and garden. The building and garden contribute to the tonwscape value of the area and can be viewed from the water.

The glass house, which was largely derelict, has been reconstructed and the garden is currently being sympathetically replanted (AGHS, 1997-8).

Wyoming - the house:
Two storey stucco building, slate roof with tile hips and ridges, cast iron gate and gate posts. Native trees on sites. Distinctive chimneys (LEP, 2000). A large two storey rendered brick, Italianate style residence with a c 1900 rendered brick and corrugated asbestos cement roof addition at the rear and several subsequent inferior additions.

The interiors consist of a typical Victorian four square plan with a central stairway, connected to a two storey staff wing. The main roofs are of slate with terra cotta ridging. The roof to the staff wing is terra cotta tiled. The main house has a projecting bay at its east end and a projecting tower like room at its west end. The front northern elevation is covered with original timber and cast iron verandah, since enclosed and converted to bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms etc. (AHC, 1996).

The combination of Wyoming's architectural qualities, its contextual impact, its degree of intactness and its historical associations make the villa a building of considerable cultural significance at the local, state and national level. This is one of the last waterfront Victorian villas remaining on the Balmain Peninsula (Criterion B.1) Architecturally, it is a fine example of the Italianate style, having been designed by the Mansfield Brothers, who were perhaps Sydney's pre-eminent mid Victorian architects. The villa has landmark qualities to Snails Bay and to Sydney Harbour. It has streetscape significance to Wharf Road and retains its original Victorian curtilage with a remnant garden (Criteria E.1, F.1 and H.1). It has local significance for its association with Quarton Deloitte, known for his contribution to the local area and a pioneer in Australian rowing. It has state and international significance for its association with the eminent Russian scientist and humanitarian, Nicolai Miklouho-Maclay (Criterion H.1)(AHC statement of significance, 1996).
Modifications and dates: Verandahs infilled, interesting later addition to street side. Stucco - Ashlar.
Windows modified.
Entry lobby and rear complete stair (top newell missing), tesselated tiles, single storey.
Verandah with cast iron columns stone steps from verandah, sea walls (top course rebuilt in smaller stones).
Extensiive restoration program underway since 1995 with Ian Stapleton advising (LEP, 2000 from Leichhardt Heritage Study, 1989, item B166-B).
Current use: Residence
Former use: Residence; maritime company use, flats


Historical notes: Balmain Peninsula history:
The two influences accelerating Balmain's growth were building of Mort's Dock (1855) and opening the Pyrmont Bridge (1857).

The whole peninsula was once virgin scrubby bush and tribal land of the Wangal clan of the Dharug people. In early colonial years 'gentlemen sportsmen' hunted deer, kangaroo and other game onto and on this peninsula. Mobs of kangaroos were driven from the plains of Leichhardt and Ashfield to the narrowest part (Yurulbin - see Birchgrove below). Timber-dealers, grass-cutters and woodmen denuded much of the land of its trees.

Colonial surgeon Dr William Balmain was granted much of Balmain in 1800 (550 acres - today's Balmain and Rozelle). Balmain's grant was subdivided in 1836, 24 years before the older, adjoining Birch Grove estate. Land at Ballast Point on Waterview (now Mort) Bay was sold in 1839 but not until the early 1840s depression did a surge of subdivisions carve up Balmain's grant. The district started suburbanising as skilled and unskilled workers found lodgings close to town, and transport improved. In 1846, 19.6% of Sydney's population lived here, the largest residential area in the colony. Its deep waters attracted the maritime industry. By 1851 the population was 1397, a mix of middle-and working-class, some in elegant houses, others in cottages. Balmain Municipal Council formed in 1860 and by 1871, the population was 6272, then one of Sydney's largest. The Illustrated Sydney News of 11 July 1889 declared it the "working men's' paradise", with a population of 27,000, in 5000 houses (Read, 2011, 1).

Birchgrove and Ballast Point history:
The Birchgrove part (north-east) of the peninsula was known to the Wangal as Yur(r)ulbin or "swift running waters". It is referred to as 'waters meet' as it is where Port Jackson's waters meet the Parramatta River at the harbour's narrowest.
This small area of Balmain peninsula was excluded from Dr William Balmain's 1800 grant. Then called Whitfield's Farm, its now Birchgrove, running from Snails Bay (named in 1810), to Long Nose Point. When the point was named, a rocky nose-like protuberance jutted into the harbor. This has eroded.

30 acres were granted in 1796 to George Whitfield, a private in the NSW Corps. He was required to pay annual 'quit rent' of one shilling after five years, provide timber for naval purposes, live on and cultivate the land. He is said to have established an orange grove on the point. It passed through several hands before being acquired by John Birch, paymaster of the 73rd (Macquarie's) Regiment, in 1810. Birch built Birch Grove House on his estate on the ridge', now Louisa Road. Birch had a number of activities: he kept a town house at Charlotte Square (now Grosvenor Street), was involved with shipping in Hobart, kept race horses and formed a pastoral partnership with Ellis Bent, the colony's judge-advocate.

After 1814 Birch Grove estate was sold and tenanted by a string of people. One was Captain William Deloitte, skipper of his own barque, the Florentine (later retiring from the sea, an agent for this ship, and a merchant) and whose son we'll re-meet at Wyoming later. It was not subdivided after Deloitte's lease expired (1856) until 1860 (by developer and then-owner Didier Joubert, better known from Hunters Hill which he developed with his brother Jules. Louisa Road is named after Joubert's wife; Numa Street for his son; Rose Street, his daughter and Ferdinand Street, his nephew). The area's sandstone attracted quarrymen and masons were among the first buyers. Few 'villa lots' sold. A syndicate bought much of the remaining estate. A glowing advertisement of 1878 (a contemporary report described Snail's Bay as a 'miniature Bay of Naples') failed to find buyers, but all lots sold by 1882.

The alignment of Louisa Road was crucial to the subdivision. It had to be aligned along the central ridge the spit to create the maximum number of lots, in a single row, with deep water access. Also it had been planned not to impinge on Birch Grove House. Hence the road's 'bend'. Birch Grove House was retained, with a summer house added, on a large waterfront block.

36 lots were bought by the NSW Government for the Birch Grove Recreation Ground (later Birchgrove Oval). Public concerns about pollution and health led agitation to reclaim Snail's Bay. A trust was formed (Trustees included architect and Councillor Edward Buchanan and Quarton Deloitte) in 1882 and architect Ferdinand Reuss Jnr. (active in Glebe & remembered in Birchgrove's Reuss Street) prepared a plan of landscaped gardens, walks, shrubbery and 'big oval cricket ground'. Reclamation reduced Birch Grove House's garden, but improved the area. The park was fenced in 1884 and had a practice cricket pitch by 1885. By 1887 a dyke wall was formed to reclaim the swamp. In that year the caretaker, Thomas Rose, a man of 'horticultural experience' and two men continued laying out the grounds. The 1890s depression halted work, which resumed in 1897. By 1904 a tennis pavilion and grandstand stood. Other estate subdivisions followed in 1900 and 1911. Today, huge Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla) frame the oval and give some sense of a former landscape estate (Read, 2011, 4).

The Birchgrove and Ballast Point Conservation Area covers the area of Whitfield's 30-acre grant of 1796 (Birchgrove) and sections of John Gilchrist's Balmain Estate (Ballast Point).

Birch acquired Whitfield's grant in 1810 and built Birch Grove house (at 67 Louisa Road, demolished 1967). In 1860 the estate was purchased by Didier Joubert of Hunters Hill and the Parramatta Ferry Service. He commissioned Surveyor Brownrigg to subdivide the land into villa allotments, and despite later small resubdivisions, Brownrigg's layout provides the backbone for Birchgrove today. The streets were named for Joubert's wife (Louisa), children (Numa and Rose) and nephew (Ferdinand) with (Iron) Cove Road, and (Birch) Grove Road defining the grant boundaries. Louisa Road followed the ridge, except for the sharp bend to avoid Birch Grove House, giving access to a single row of steep allotments, all with deepwater frontage. The land around the bay was divided to provide the greatest number of allotments at 50-70ft x 150ft approximately, above high water mark, with The Terrace forming the drive to Birch Grove House.

The 1860 sale was premature. Within six years Joubert had only sold seven allotments. Stonemasons and quarrymen were among the first purchasers. The estate was eventually mortgaged to the Bank of New South Wales. By 1878, only twenty-three lots had been sold. These early residents were Sydney professionals, who travelled to town by ferry, and small speculators or builders, who quarried the land for buildings elsewhere. In 1986 twenty-four houses, eighteen built of weatherboard, remained from those first eighteen years. Today only fifteen remain.

A new consortium of McLean, McGregor and Threlkeld commissioned Surveyor Reuss Junior to re-examine the Brownrigg plan, and make some amendments around the head of the bay and along the steepest part of Louisa Road to create more allotments or more useable allotments. The estate was again put up for sale in 1878. Sydney's boom period of the 1880s saw many more allotments taken up and villas in stone or rendered brick were built. This dramatic tongue of sandstone at the western end of the harbour also attracted industries dependent on water (shipbuilding and repair) or on water for the transport of its raw materials (timber yards, a cooperage, a coal yard, an oil refinery). Birchgrove was also the site of a power cable tunnel to the north side of the harbour 1913-1926.

The mud flats, by then the repository of garbage and effluent from an increasingly industrialised and urbanised harbour, were designated in the plan as 'proposed park'. A trust was established to fill the area in 1887 for shrubberies and a cricket pitch. The present configuration was completed in 1897.

The garden of Birch Grove House was subdivided twice, in 1900 fourteen brick houses were built between 1902 and 1922 (twelve remain), and again in 1911 when four brick houses built between 1912 and 1926 (all remain). A thick plantation of trees in Birchgrove Park marks the eastern edge of the Birch Grove House garden, and shields the 1967 flats which replaced it, from view. By 1941 when Storey and Keers shipwrights were established on an apron below a narrow cliff edge in Louisa Road, all land in Birchgrove had been taken up. In the 1970s change in industrial operations and the nature of maritime industry in particular left the former small industrial sites of Birchgrove available for new residential development.

Along Ballast Point to the east of Birchgrove Park, land was released for subdivision and sale in 1852. It was part of John Gilchrist's 550-acre Balmain Estate, and subdivisional activities across the whole estate had been suspended in 1841 because of disputes about his will. Once resolved, Surveyor Charles Langley was responsible for subdividing the remaining acres into 46/47 sections, using existing contour-aligned routes such as Darling Street, Birchgrove Road and Ballast Point Road to delineate the parcels. The sections were purchased over the next thirty years by wealthy investors, local speculators and builders.

Speculators Joshua Josephson, Didier Joubert, Charles Smith, William Cover and George Thorne bought up the land on both sides of Ballast Point Road in 1853. This marine location, with most allotments possessing water frontages, attracted some keen bidding.

By 1891 the whole process of building up Ballast Point Road, Wharf Road, Yeend, Ronald and Lemm Streets was largely complete. There were marine villas on generous parcels of land along Wharf Road. They were sited well up from the waterfront for a stylish setting and for views, with their backs to the road. Large terraces and villas occupied the high ground along Ballast Point Road.

Cooper, who had already received twenty-three acres in Mort's Bay (later part of Mort's Town of Waterview) also owned Ballast Point itself. The Point was purchased and used by Caltex Oil Co for oil storage purposes until the 1980s Godden Mackay Logan, 2004).

Wyoming was built in 1881 around an earlier stone cottage, The Hermitage, home in the 1870s to shipwright James Yeend. He ran his yard below. Its wharf was almost certainly the original of Wharf Rd.

Quarton L.Deloitte built Wyoming much as it is today. The architects Mansfield Bros. were the pre-eminent Victorian firm who designed many public buildings, including Balmain Primary School and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Deloitte was son of a sea captain who'd grown up in nearby Birch Grove House. He was secretary of the Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) for 50 years (Read, 2011, 6). Deloitte was a prominent citizen of Balmain, patron of Sydney Rowing Club for decades and often referred to as the father of rowing. His family was associated with Birchgrove (and Wharf Road in particular) over nearly 100 years (AHC, 1996). Deloitte was a keen gardener, terracing the steep site and laying out lawns, trees, shrubs and a glass house (Read, Stuart, pers.comm., 30/4/2013).

In Deloitte's absence in 1884 Wyoming was tenanted by legendary Russian scientist, explorer and humanist, Nicolai Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888) with his wife Margaret, daughter of five-times NSW Premier Sir John Robertson. Although little-known in Australia, Miklouho-Maclay is revered as a folk hero in Russia and the Ukraine. The property became the focus of international attention for its association with where Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay who established the biological research station at Watsons Bay, (entered in the Register of the National Estate) and was responsible for anthropological and exploration activity in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (Read, 2011, 6).

When Deloitte died in 1927, Wyoming was quickly absorbed by the adjacent maritime industry of Nicholson Bros. & later Stannards Bros. Set below the street it was soon forgotten and neglected.

In 1989 it was threatened with demolition as part of redundant Balmain maritime industry; its owners wanted to replace it with 10 town houses and others in front of no.s 21 & 23. Leichhardt Council's meeting considering the application was addressed by Soviet Consul General, Ivan Shchbakov. The meeting was filmed and shown on Soviet TV and reported in Pravda newspaper. A usually-then divided Leichhardt Municipal Council passed a unanimous motion to reject the application and requested a State Government demolition prevention order, which was accepted, followed by NSW State Heritage Register listing.

In 1994 a conservation management plan was prepared for the owners by Clive Lucas, Stapelton & Partners and used as the basis for restoring the house. Work began in 1994. Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners and particularly Ian Stapleton left his signature with creation of a conservatory-kitchen, added to the original stone-flagged scullery. The house was converted to a single residence by removing the flats' many kitchens and bathrooms, mainly on closed-in verandahs, which were re-opened. This left original fabric mostly intact. Evidence of the flats and maritime industry era survive in retained large power board, cabling, letter boxes and wire front fence.

Historic photos by Cazneaux in a 1929 Australian Home Beautiful magazine article were an invaluable guide to multiple discoveries: original iron lacework identified when a waterfront burn-off was approved by the EPA; first floor verandah posts that'd become part of an arbor; parts of finials and a ridge capping of the Orchid house found lying around. Others were made: a network of hexagonal drainage channels in the Orchid house floor; the original well described in an 1868 advertisement as 'never-failing spring well' under the main verandah floor and the 1850s stone flagging under a flat's floor and in the scullery.

Heritage consultant James Broadbent advised on contemporary wallpaper, furniture and soft furnishings.

Restoration of the Victorian garden began in 1999. Heritage landscape architect Michael Lehany designed the garden around the house in 2000. He created in front of the house an intricate Victorian garden, including the cactus garden, before they became a necessity due to water restrictions. Previous existing but deteriorated structures were copied, stone balustrades and other fixtures and paths were re-laid or restored. Extensive traditional planting was undertaken by the owners to augment what survived.

The woven wire arbors were copied from one surviving, the stone balustrades were restored and old concrete steps and paths repaired and re-laid. The structure of the old garden was re-affirmed before being overlaid, or furnished, with rich and varied - but traditional - planting. This reflects both Deloitte's and the present owners' horticultural interests: orchids, cacti and succulents, bamboos and in particular, frangipanis. A surviving tree near the street is an evergreen, or holly or holm oak, Quercus ilex from the Mediterranean. Others were several varied frangipanis and a tree gardenia.

The early dock had been closed in with Moruya granite, cut-offs from the Harbour Bridge. It was restored in c.2000: this part in granite; the rest in large sandstone blocks.

The new garden on the waterfront below the retaining wall was designed by James Broadbent and has been largely constructed and planted in 2011. The 1850s seawall was derelict.

Deloitte, an avid orchid collector, built the Victorian Orchid house, a rare survivor on Sydney harbour. It required extensive restoration. Imported as a prefabricated structure from England, it would have proven unsuited for orchids other than tropical ones. He then built the waterfront fernery (replacing shipyard sheds) with a massive vaulted roof of slats on a brick plinth. Only the plinth remained. The 1904 sewer installation sadly had to go through the back of the fernery. Although care was obviously taken, the works and especially the resultant rubble greatly downgraded the area. The roof eventually became ruinous and was removed. With little known of the fernery's detail and nothing of the planting of this lower area, no attempt has been made to re-create any form of 'period' garden. Rather its location and aspect have been embraced, after removing decades-worth of rubbish and weeds. For shade a pergola was built in ironbark saplings, wire and split bamboo, beneath the retaining wall. The simplicity is deceptive: as everything, bulldozers, machines, stone, rubbish, weeds and soil, had to be taken in and out by barge.

In WWII, the stub wall was filled in with soil so enabling a veggie patch to be created. This has been reinstated. The dock survived in a vestigial form: today it is a bog garden.

A riddle remains: why did Deloitte name it Wyoming? It seems an improbable choice for an 1880s Sydney home as it is an American Indian name meaning 'big plains'. We know Deloitte travelled widely: was Wyoming in the USA a special place of orchid interest, or a CSR connection? (Read, 2011, 6-8).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Maritime industry shipyard timber yards-
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)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Housing-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing suburbia-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Quarton Levitt Deloitte, merchant-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay, Russian biologist and anthropologist-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
* the maintenance and minor repair of any building or work on the site;
* garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning, weed control;
* eradication of noxious plants and animals;
* the engaging in or carrying out of any of the activities referred to in Subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act, 1977, by the Maritime Services Board or any public authority in respect of the reapir, maintenance and construction of services infrastructure.
Jun 15 1990
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0077202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0077207 Feb 97 150512
Local Environmental Plan  22 Dec 00   
Register of the National EstateWyoming1794228 May 96   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990B166-BMcDonald McPhee P/L  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Harbour Circle Walk View detail
WrittenAustralian Garden History Society (Sydney & Northern NSW Branch)1998'Wyoming' mention in 'Functions' in Annual Report 1997-1998
WrittenClive Lucas Stapleton & Partners, 6/19921992Wyoming - Assessment of Rarity in Inner Sydney Harbour
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners2000Seawalls & Associated Features - Assessment of Heritage Significance - Wyoming, 25 Wharf Road, Balmain
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners1998Schedule of Garden Works - Wyoming, 25 Wharf Road, Birchgrove
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners199115-25 Wharf Road, Birchgrove - Survey of Historic Integrity (Appendix 9)
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners, P/L199117-25 Wharf Road, Birchgrove - Draft Heritage Assessment
WrittenConybeare Morrison & Partners199117-25 Wharf Road, Birchgrove - Heritage Assessment
WrittenGatenby, Gavin, for The Australian Museum1989'Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay 1846-1888 - a 'Spy' for science' (People in History)
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan2004'Birchgrove and Ballast Point - Area 14' in Leichhardt Heritage Review: Stage 2 View detail
WrittenHector Abrahams Architects2013Statement of Heritage Impact - 8/10/2013 - demolition and reconstruction of garden standstone retaining wall for structural purposes; relocation of timber paling fence on to the eastern boundary
WrittenJames Russell1990Wyoming - a Conservation Study
WrittenRead, Stuart (editor/compiler)2011National Archaeology Week - Birchgrove wander - post-industrial parks & private gardens - notes Notes compiled by Stuart Read, for the Australian Garden History Society – Sydney & Northern NSW Branch, 21 May 2011

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

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045304
File number: 13/7513 ; S90/04022

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