Tarella | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage



Item details

Name of item: Tarella
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -33.8232306861 Long: 151.2088017100
Primary address: 3 Amherst Street, Cammeray, NSW 2062
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: North Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT101 DP618220
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
3 Amherst StreetCammerayNorth SydneyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Simply Technology Pty LtdPrivate 


Construction years: 1874-1886
Physical description: Grounds:
The house is set well-back from the street frontage on a large site, with a serpentine drive through extensive lawn area, framed by trees and shrub plantings (Stuart Read, 24/2/2016).

There is a large semi-formal garden between the painted iron palisade fence on the Amherst Street boundary and the house. The garden features two mature Canary Island date (Phoenix canariensis) and Alexandra (Archontophoenix alexandrae) palms, Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara), lavender hedges, roses, pomegranate (Punica granatum) and frangipani (Plumeria rubra cv.) trees with a fountain and pond in the lawn (LEP, NTA; added to by Stuart Read, 16/6/2014). An ornamental cast iron fence marks the street front (ibid, 2016).

The date of much of the garden fabric may be early 20th century. A 1899 photograph held in the North Sydney Stanton Library shows no Canary Island date palms, suggesting they date to the early 20th century (NB: this species was popularised by Joseph Maiden after he planted a triple avenue of it along Macquarie Street (Stuart Read, 24/2/2016). The garden contains species not authentic to the Victorian era. The concrete path is not part of the original landscape (Turnbull Group, 1993, 4). The pond, fountain and relocated iron gates appear to date from later in the twentieth century, possibly during the Hawkins ownership era (ibid).

Fine garden and entry to house (LEP).

Residence of an important public figure of the nineteenth century. One of the earliest buildings established in the vicinity and one of the earliest still in existence (LEP).

A two-storey Victorian Italianate style residence of brick construction (tuck-pointed, now painted) with corbelled brick eaves and hipped slate roof. The house has a two-storey verandah on the main (north) elevation; the lower level verandah is paved with tesselated tiles in a mosaic pattern with a slate border; slender cast-iron columns support the timber structures of the upper level. Panelled front door has sidelights, a leadlight panel over and brass door knob, knocker and bell pull (LEP).

Remarkably fine imposing Victorian mansion on southern side of Amherst Street, backing on to the Warringah , located roughly half way between Miller and West Streets. Fine iron work to two storey returned verandah (Branch Manager's report, 5/10/1982).

AHC RNI entry said built between 1872-1893 (c.1874), in contrast to NSHR date of 1886.

Interior features are substantially intact, including a grand timber staircase and main entry lobby with a large stained glass window about the stair landing, 13 marble fireplaces and fine door/window joinery. Plaster ceilings are generally intact. (Branch Manager's report, 5/10/1982).

A two storey stable building, modern-built during the Hawkins ownership in sympathetic quasi-Gothic style is behind the house, facing a laneway. This has double pointed arch doorways.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Beautifully restored. Both exterior and interior are in good condition and maintained in period style (Turnbull Group, 1993)
Date condition updated:24 Feb 16
Modifications and dates: A sympathetic coachhouse was constructed recently by Mr. J. Hawkins at the rear of the site (AHC, undated).

Some modifications have been made to minor rooms at the rear and an unsympathetic small stables building has been added at the southwestern side but could be dismantled with only minor effect on the residence (Branch Manager's report, 5/10/1982)
Further information: condition ranked as excellent in 1981 North Sydney Heritage Study. Integrity then ranked as 'intact'.

In exceptionally sound condition, well maintained and its interior features are substantially intact (Branch Manager's report, 5/10/1982).
Current use: Business premises
Former use: Residence


Historical notes: Amherst Street is named after Lord William Pitt Amherst who was Governor General of India 1823-1828. Some old directories and plans mis-spell this street as AMHURST (http://www.cammeray.info/wp/history).

Tarella was originally the house of Sir Joseph Palmer Abbott, K.C.M.G., a former speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1880-1900. Abbott built Tarella c. 1886, on land he had acquired in 1881 (LEP).

Abbott was a member of the Conventions formed to frame a Constitution for the Commonwealth of Australia that were held in 1891, 1897-98. From 1891-1900 he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the AMP Society. He died in 1901 (North Sydney City Council, plaque on site).

Nearby Palmer Street in Cammeray is named after Sir Joseph Palmer Abbott (http://www.cammeray.info/wp/history).

A file on Tarella held in the North Sydney Stanton Library Local History Unit has a photograph taken in 1899 that does not show the two Canary Island date palms. These appear to have been planted in the early 20th century (Turnbull Group, 1993)(NB: this species was popularised by Joseph Maiden, after he planted a triple avenue of these palms along Macquarie Street in the 1910s)(Stuart Read, 24/2/2016).

Tarella was fully restored by the early 1970s. It was furnished appropriately. It has two plaques, donated by the owner and AMP Society.

The house has good coloured glass and beautiful iron lace.

Front lawns and garden, with fountain and iron gates (relocated) from the historic St John's Anglican Church, Parramatta (AHC, date not given).

In 1982 the then owner John Hawkins sought North Sydney Council approval of a rezoning proposal to allow the house to be used as professional offices by architects Edwards, Madigan, Torzillo and Briggs. Mr. Hawkins who had restored the property was keen that it be retained, and if this use was the key was supportive. North Sydney Council opposed any rezoning, citing concerns at gradual loss of its residential areas particularly sites such as this. Mr. Hawkins threatened to lodge a development application to demolish the house if rezoning were not approved.

The Heritage Council considered the rezoning proposal and the request for an order under the Heritage Act. It decided that while it was aware of North Sydney Council's policy aimed at preventing further alienation of residential land in the municipality, it considered that the building is of such heritage significance that it would support proposals to rezone the site for uses compatible with the heritage significance of the building and which would ensure its retention and maintenance. Further it advised that in the event that it was advised of proposed demolition of the building, the Heritage Council would consider recommending its protection under the NSW Heritage Act (Branch Manager's Report, 5/10/1982).

The property, now empty, was bought in 2001 by Simply Technology and is leased to the childcare centre company, Brenham P/L. Brenham P/L in 2015 proposed a childcare centre for 80 children at Tarella, to operate five days a week. The company operates two childcare centres in Sydney. North Sydney City Council's Independent Planning Panel refused a development application for this use in April 2015 on several grounds. The Heritage Council also refused an integrated development application due to adverse impacts on heritage significance, fabric and setting. An appeal has been lodged with the NSW Land and Environment Court (McCullagh, 2015).

Childcare Centre use approved by NSW Land & Environment Court (McCullagh, 14/7/16, 8).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Gardens and landscapes reminiscent of an 'old country'-
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. Housing politicians-
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 Sub-division of large estates-
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 Surveying by Augustus Alt-
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 19th century suburban developments-
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 Subdivision of urban estates-
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 the Hon. Sir Joseph Palmer Abbott, KCMG, former speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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 0027002 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0027008 Jun 84 903014
Local Environmental PlanNorth Sydney LEP 2013I0001 1079264
National Trust of Australia register NTA (NSW) Suburban Register10089   
Register of the National Estate - InterimTarella2919   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
National Trust Suburban Register198610089National Trust of Australia (NSW)  No
North Sydney Heritage Study Review19930875Brassil, T., Irving, R., Pratten, C., Conybeare MorrisonToni Brassil No
North Sydney Heritage Study198180Latona Masterman  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Tarella View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Tarella View detail
WrittenMcCullagh, Andrea2016'Big plans for heritage home'
WrittenMcCullagh, Andrea2015'History goes to court - stoush over heritage building'
WrittenShearman, Robert, (Branch Manager)1982Branch Manager's Report, 5/10/1982
WrittenThe Turnbull Group P/L Planners and Valuers1993Statement of Environmental Effects - Provision of on-site parking

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: 5045416
File number: EF14/5081; S90/5137; HC 32926

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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