Boomerang | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Boomerang

Item details

Name of item: Boomerang
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Parks, Gardens and Trees
Category: Garden Residential
Location: Lat: -33.8701594330 Long: 151.2282113710
Primary address: 42 Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay, NSW 2011
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP597121
LOT1 DP77439
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
42 Billyard AvenueElizabeth BaySydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address
9-11 Ithica RoadElizabeth BaySydneyAlexandriaCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private 

Statement of significance:

One of the most opulently Spanish houses in Australia (Apperly, Irving & Reynolds, 2002)

Boomerang has historic, aesthetic and social significance as an exemplary example of large scale Spanish Mission/ Hollywood Spanish mansion and garden in an urban setting, in relatively intact condition, demonstrating the lifestyle possible of wealthy merchant of the 1920s, and the kind of social milieu possible and popular among that class at the time.

It has technical and research significance a rare example of domestic architecture of Neville Hampson in Sydney, and as a rare intact example of the landscape design of Max Shelley, a garden designer active in 1920s Sydney and South Australia from the 1930s onward, with an integration of house and garden rarely seen in Australia.

Boomerang has added historic significance as it incorporates landscape remnants of the former Macleay Elizabeth Bay estate garden, namely remnant trees from the grounds of the Hall of Macleay's Linnean Society of NSW (1885). (Read, S., pers.comm., 2004)(Carlin/HHT, 2000)
Date significance updated: 05 Jul 04
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Neville Hampson (house); Max Shelley (and possibly Hampson and Mr A.J.Doust) (garden/grounds)
Construction years: 1926-1928
Physical description: House
Spanish Mission mansion of three levels designed by Neville Hampson, 1923-6 for Frank Albert, sheet music/harmonica millionaire. Inter-war Spanish Mission style (c.1915-c.1940)(Apperly et al, 2002, p.176). Spanish Revival Style (Irving, 1986).
An exotic 1926 residence designed by Neville Hampson, exemplifying the Hollywood derived taste for the Spanish mission style in a pastiche of palms, splashing fountains and 'Spanish' architectural details. perforated screens, rough stucco, colonnades, grilles, loggias and barley twist columns are all combined here to provide one of the most successful examples of this style (RAIA).

A 3 storey masonry structure rendered on external walls, with either ceramic tiled, timber panelled, fabric wallpapered, or plastered walls within. House has 25 main rooms, 6 bathrooms, 4 kitchens, covers a total of 100 square metres (Dawson, 1980, 46).

The floors on the ground level are limestone paved (entry lobby)(travertine (Dawson, 1980; Irving, 1986), high quality timber parquetry in dining room, former library, central lobby (former dining room), and upstairs bedrooms of English oak with black ebony and American walnut borders.

Bedrooms (3) are on the upper floor, as is a servant's bedroom (no.4). All four bedrooms have ensuites/attached bathrooms, mostly original with some 1980s/90s fittings added (vanities etc). All bathrooms are elaborately tiled with gold, irridescent blue, or green, or plain white tiles. Three main bedrooms all have inbuilt wardrobes in painted cabinetry, the main bedroom having an unusual fold-out door with two-full-length leaf mirrors, and a revolving 5 tiered hat stand.

Two internal staircases access the upper floor, a major and a minor one. The major one is made of marble and bronze (Dawson, 1980, 46).

The lower ground level has a private cinema.
Roof tiles are Wunderlich multi-coloured glazed terracotta Cordoba tiles.
The property has much external and internal detail work in wrought iron - window grilles, door screens, light fittings.

The house has much bespoke decorative panel work on walls, floors and ceilings in coloured glazed ceramic tiles, timber, plaster and terrazzo.

External walls have iron grilles in 'portholes' of different shapes, wooden gates, iron grille gates (two for vehicular entry), one wooden gate for pedestrian entry off Billyard Avenue.

Garage/Butler's Quarters
Separate garage/butler's quarters on the corner of Billyard Avenue/Ithaca Road, converted into garage/guests' quarters in the 1990s.

Garden
Elements of Boomerang's garden may relate to its pre-1926 use (between 1826 and 1926) as part of Alexander Macleay's 54 acre Elizabeth Bay estate garden. Boomerang's lot before subdivision was part of the estate's enclosed kitchen garden/orchard/orangery. George Macleay subdivided and sold leaseholds of the estate between 1865 and 1882.

In 1875 his cousin, William John Macleay, acquired the lease of blocks on the corner of Ithaca Road and Billyard Avenue. This allowed him to build his Macleayan Museum for his natural history collections, which had been previously stored in Elizabeth Bay House. These collections were transferred to the Macleayan Museum at the University of Sydney in 1888. William John Macleay constructed a building for the Linnean Society of NSW on an adjacent block in 1885. Several trees which may date from the grounds of the Linnean Hall remain today - some on Boomerang include an old avocado tree (Persea gratissima) and a large mango tree (Mangifera indica) on the external southern (streetside) front wall on the SE side of the entry gate. Both of these latter trees are difficult to discern in photographs of the front garden of Boomerang of 1926 and 1929 (Read, S., pers.comm, 24/12/2007). The mango tree is a magnificent and densely crowned tree. It is possibly the largest specimen of this species in the City of Sydney local government area. The avocado appears to be in serious decline (Landarc, 2005, 312).
Early Linnean Society grounds elements noted to survive in a 2000 Historic Houses Trust book "Elizabeth Bay House - a guide" include a Norfolk Island hibiscus, (Lagunaria patersonae).

Also possibly from this time/Macleay ownership period is a large camellia (C.japonica) in front garden on W side of carriage drive near gate (this tree/shrub is at least 1920s, possibly older, and the Macleays were noted Camellia enthusiasts/hybridisers at Camden Park estate).

Outside Boomerang remnants of the Linnean Hall grounds include a remnant black bean tree (Castanospermum australe) and Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) line the southern street boundary of adjacent Billyard Avenue properties to the west. Other estate remains elsewhere include a grotto (part natural sandstone cliff overhang, part carved niche and details, and sections of an elaborate sandstone steps and a retaining wall and balustrade, behind (south) of Art Deco flats across (south of) Billyard Avenue.

While much more lush, dense and shady than its early planting appears due to additional plantings probably from the 1980s/90s, the mature garden retains its overall character with a Mediterranean/ Hollywood/Islamic flavour and a combination of palms, cypresses, dense tree and English flower planting. Today the dominant theme is subtropical.

The original garden was designed and planted by landscape architect M.R.(Max) Shelley, perhaps in combination with architect Neville Hampson. Shelley's liberal use of subtropical species - Lord Howe (Howea fosteriana/H.belmoreana) & Cocos Island (Syragus romanzoffianum) palms, ornamental bananas (Musa spp./cv.s), araucarias (Norfolk Island pine - A.heterophylla in particular), Mediterranean cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens), Chusan or Chinese fan palms (Trachycarpus fortunei), New Zealand cabbage trees (Cordyline australis) and a Mediterranean/Hollywood/Islamic flavour remains today. Mediterranean cypresses have been replaced by the wider growing Bhutan cypresses (C.torulosa) and Chinese fan palms today.

A large urban residential garden, the structure of the garden is defined by the built elements, in particular the walls, entry drive in herringbone brick, courtyards (e.g.: cloister garden to the west with crazy paving in sandstone), terraces in herringbone brick, ponds (a large rectangular sunken pool in the front garden lined with glazed ceramic blue tiles, a smaller circular sunken pool near the entry portico in multicoloured ceramic mosaic) and external spaces of the garden. The garden retains many of the original planted "structure" of trees and shrubs.

Some 1926 plantings remain, including a collection of palms, Lord Howe Island /curly/sentry palms, Cocos Island palms, pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelinii)(one in the western courtyard), Chusan, windmill or Chinese fan palms, (The 2 windmill palms are amongst the largest known in the City of Sydney local government area (Landarc, 2005, 312)), a large and prominent Norfolk Island pine north of the courtyard to the house's west (this is a tall, emergent specimen and the most visually prominent component of the garden when viewed from the harbour (Landarc, 2005, 312)), Canary Island date palms, (Phoenix canariensis) in the rear garden, Bhutan cypresses, (Cupressus torulosa), Alexandra palms (Archontophoenix alexandrae), Queensland nut/macadamia, (M.integrifolia)(Read, S., 20/8/2001 visit; Landarc, 2005, 312).

Many landscape details remain intact from the 1926 original, including multicoloured herringbone brick paving carriage loop and other brick/tile/concrete paving, sandstone crazy paved base to sundial and benches, wrought iron railings, fences and gates, colonnaded courtyard to west, service courtyard to east, matching sandstone benches on the northern lawn, sandstone and bronze sundial, square Moorish concrete and multicoloured ceramic tile planter tubs north of the house on the terrace, original plastered walls with window grills, doors (e.g.: to south street side, to NE to former tennis court now public park), former tennis court sheds attached to walls (now within public park), northern terrace, standard steel pole lights throughout, sandstone steps to northern lawn, SE corner colonnaded pergola in iron and timber, boatshed/house/studio (now part of neighbouring property), sea wall, jetty, ceramic tiled and sandstone ponds, fountains (one in courtyard to south, another in courtyard to west, one on entrance lobby wall with Aboriginal face), terrazzo steps (to western courtyard, to northern terrace, in porte cochere)(Read, S., 20/8/01 visit)(Landarc, 2005, 310-2).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Garden
A relatively high degree of design and layout intactness to original design, some planting modification and some structural, generally sympathetic and of a high quality matching original.

The central sundial on the northern lawn has been relocated to the side garden in the NE corner and a swimming pool was placed centrally in the lawn. The four crazy paved paths that led to the former sundial are gone, although the sundial base and benches bases still use sandstone crazy paving.

While much more lush, dense and shady than its early planting appears, the mature garden retains its overall character with a Mediterranean/ Hollywood/Islamic flavour and a combination of palms, cypresses, dense tree and English flower planting. Today the dominant theme is subtropical.

Shelley's 1926 flower details have gone, along with the sun levels depleting as trees grew. 1980s changes put some colour back into the garden, which by then was overgrown and shady - including oleanders, cliveas. Shelley's 1926 Mediterranean cypresses have been replaced by the wider growing Bhutan cypresses and Chinese fan palms today.

Older elements predating 1926 may remain from Alexander Macleay's former Elizabeth Bay estate, of which this section formed part of the orangery/orchard, and was close to the former Linnean Society Hall and garden. These include a large mango tree, Mangifera indica and an avocado, Persea gratissima growing against the external wall on the SE side of the eastern entry gate. Early elements claimed to survive in a 2000 Historic Houses Trust book "Elizabeth Bay House - a guide" include the mango, a Queensland black bean, Castanospermum australe) and a Norfolk Island hibiscus, (Lagunaria patersonae).

Some 1926 plantings remain, including a collection of palms, Lord Howe Island palms, (Howea fosteriana/belmoreana), Cocos Island palms, (Cocos romanzoffianum), pygmy date palms (one in the western courtyard) (Phoenix roebelinii), Chamaedorea costaricana, Chinese fan palms, (Trachycarpus fortunei), a Norfolk Island pine, Araucaria heterophylla, north of the courtyard to the house's west, Canary Island date palms, (Phoenix canariensis), Bhutan cypresses, (Cupressus torulosa), Queensland nut/macadamia, (M.tetraphylla).

Many landscape details remain intact from the 1926 original, including multicoloured herringbone brick paving carriage loop and other brick/tile/concrete paving, sandstone crazy paved base to sundial and benches, wrought iron railings, fences and gates, colonnaded courtyard to west, service courtyard to east, matching sandstone benches on the northern lawn, sandstone and bronze sundial, square Moorish concrete and multicoloured ceramic tile planter tubs north of the house on the terrace, original plastered walls with window grills, doors (eg: to south street side, to NE to former tennis court now public park), former tennis court sheds attached to walls (now within public park), northern terrace, standard steel pole lights throughout, sandstone steps to northern lawn, SE corner colonnaded pergola in iron and timber, boatshed/house/studio (now part of neighbouring property), sea wall, jetty, ceramic tiled and sandstone ponds, fountains (one in courtyard to south, another in courtyard to west, one on entrance lobby wall with Aboriginal face), terrazzo steps (to western courtyard, to northern terrace, in porte cochere).
(Stuart Read, 20/8/01 visit)

2005 changes:
Front garden (to street) - 2 paths flanking ornamental pool removed. Pool lined and retiled with different tiles. Dead Citrus tree, African olive, Illawarra flame tree removed. Significant groundcover replanting with star jasmine, Clivia cv.s. New box hedging added around ornamental pool. 2 large new Canary Island palms added at southern end of pool, symmetrically, replacing 2 Chinese fan palms which were relocated.
Modifications and dates: Pre 1926 this section of Alexander Macleay's Elizabeth Bay estate was part of its enclosed kitchen garden/orchard/orangery. Possible remnants surviving today (on Boomerang) include an old avocado tree (Persea gratissima) and a mango (Mangifera indica) on the southern (streetside) front wall, east of the main entry, possibly also a large camellia (C.japonica) in front garden on W side of carriage drive near gate (this tree/shrub dates at least to the 1920s, possibly older, and the Macleays were noted Camellia enthusiasts/hybridisers, eg: William at Camden Park). Outside Boomerang a remnant black bean tree (Castanospermum australe) and Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) overhang Billyard Avenue properties to the west - these were both possibly Macleay estate tree remnants. Other estate remains include a grotto (part natural sandstone cliff overhang, part carved niche and details, and sections of an elaborate sandstone steps and a retaining wall and balustrade, behind (south) of Art Deco flats across (south of) Billyard Avenue.

1926 Boomerang's house was built ; its architect was Neville Hampson; and garden/courtyards made around it, richly planted by landscape designer Max Shelley, possibly in conjunction with Hampson. It was built on the site of an earlier house called 'Boomerang', being one of a row of Edwardian homes built on a 1875 subdivision of Elizabeth Bay House estate, Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay's grand gardenesque folly, widely considered at the time (1820s onward) as "the finest house and garden in the colony".

Mr A.J.Doust, a landscape gardener active in the Eastern Suburbs in the late 1920s and 1930s is also known to have worked on Boomerang's grounds, perhaps on its maintenance or adaptations as plantings matured.

The garden and Shelley's involvement were featured in an article in magazine "The Home" of 1 February 1929, with photographs by Harold Cazneaux. Clearly based on Hollywood mansions of the period and well known in Sydney society at the time, Boomerang was the scene of much entertaining (Albert had a private cinema built in the basement for guests) and subsequent to his death, to much land speculation.

Albert also reputedly owned the adjoining property to the west, today called 'Berthong', on which the boathouse of Boomerang survives today. A 1936 aerial photograph by J M Leonard shows Boomerang's formal cruciform harbour-front garden, flanked by palms and shrubberies, with Berthong's open lawn to the west, and another house (later demolished) immediately to the east (on what is today Beare Park. The date of demolition of this house to the east is not known, but external walls lining its block relate directly to Boomerang in style and materials, and this may have been acquired by Albert and demolished for a tennis court, which was walled, with a door to Ithaca Road, which survives in Beare Park west today, as does the southern perimeter wall, and western wall, with grilled gate and steps into Boomerang. (Read, S., pers. comm., 2006).

1970s makeover to landscape south of (now) pool on northern (rear) yard.
1978 estate subdivided (lots to east on Ithaca Road created)

1980 private cinema - seats removed; at this time the burgundy velvet curtains were still in place; the projection room still had canisters of film stacked on the floor, beside the old fashioned Cummings & Wilson projectors which hadn't been used in years (Dawson, 1980, 91).

post 1982 (& pre 1989) northern lawn modified to install swimming pool, Seafront rose garden removed, removed crazy paved cruciform paths, and relocating sundial to north-east garden bed.

C.1989/90 - 1970s "makeover" to landscape south of pool towards house was altered (Matthew Taylor/Taylor Brammer Landscape Architects) - a number of intrusive elements and inappropriate planting were removed. Agapathus plantings were retained, based on early photographic evidence of the type of plantings in that area. Climbing roses were replanted on front walls to Billyard Avenue (since removed). Ixora sp. Were planted near the front wall to supplement existing plantings. Existing cypresses in front garden retained. (Note: Bhutan cypresses in an avenue around the ornamental pool (Cupressus torulosa) were probably added at this time - these are now mature and over 10m tall, shading the pool and garden and lifting paving). Some bathroom modifications (vanities) appear to date from the 1980s or 1990s also.

Post 1996 Garage/Butler's quarters/mechanics area changed by then-owners the Mounts to be a guest house. Materials and finishes generally match those inside the main house. This annexe till retains the engine hoist, and some garaging space on ground level. The petrol pump is gone. Works were done to match some existing details inside house, eg: the guest bathroom in similar dark blue iridescent /gold tiles. c.1990s statue of a woman and pedestal bowl added to sunken ornamental pool in front garden, and front-side courtyard to guest wing paved with square blocks, and a new central fountain added.

2001 visit noting changes made probably in the late 1990s (Stuart Read, pers. Comm.)
Lord Howe Island palms (Howea fosteriana) planted on western side of rear (north) garden for privacy screen from 2 storey Edwardian house (also a former Albert property)
Courtyard to west of house - initial 1926 bananas planting is now replaced with pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelinii), to match one existing older speciment on SE side near house (which was there in 1926 photos) - this tree was nearly lost in a big hailstorm in 2000. The Front (south) garden - 2 Chinese fan/windmill palms, Trachycarpus fortunei added to Sth end of the ornamental pool, for some privacy from flats over Billyard Avenue. Then-owner Mr Mount noted he could've put in (more of the) wider-growing Bhutan cypresses (Cupressus torulosa) to gain more privacy, but didn't - recognising that neighbours enjoy the front garden too/outlook.

A Norfolk Island hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonae) also reputedly remaining (Carlin/HHT, 2000) from Macleay's estate is not now on Boomerang, but may (like the black bean and Moreton Bay fig mentioned above) be on other properties to the west on Billyard Avenue. A rich collection of ornamental palms are on site, ones in the SW corner near the gate include Cocos Island palm (Syragus romanzoffianum), and north-east of the carriage loop nearer the house (and elsewhere eg east of the carriage loop near house) are Lord Howe Island palms (Kentia fosteriana and K.belmoreana), Chinese windmill/fan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei). These palms look to date from the late 1920s Max Shelley original plantings on site. (S.Read, pers.comm. 2001).

2004 A pair of Alfonso XIII period glazed urns dating from the 1st 1/4 of the 20th century and provenanced to Boomerang (shown in situ on the north terrace outside the sunroom in a 1930 photo) were acquired by the NSW Historic Houses Trust for its Library & Research Collection. The urns were a significant element of the original collection of garden ornaments. (HHT, 2004).

6-12/2005: a range of works undertaken at the property, being:
Internal- ground floor)
main entrance hall limestone walls and floor - cleaning;
sitting room (former library): timber panelled walls & parquetry floors sanded & polished;
dining room: cleaned, parquetry floors repaired and polished where necessary;
hall (former dining room): cleaned, parquetry floors repaired and polished where necessary;
sunroom: walls and windows cleaned, ceiling repainted;
kitchen: new bench tops installed, metal cupboards cleaned, repaired and painted, window hardware repaired, walls repainted;
Main staircase: cleaned, repaired and replaced broken leadlight glazing to match existing;

Upper Floor)
Bedroom 1: cleaned, parquetry floor repaired and polished. No works to bathrooms other than cleaning (for b'rooms 1-4);
Bedroom 2: cleaned, floor polished;
Bedroom 3: cleaned, floor polished;
Staff bedroom: carpet removed, parquetry floor polished;
Hall: stone walls & floor surface cleaned

(Lower ground floor)
private cinema/theatre & associated rooms: cleaning and general maintenance;
billiard room: repainted and cleaned;
laundry: pressed metal ceiling rusting, cleaned and repaired
tiles: generally cleaned, repaired matching the existing and polished;
parquetry: repaired, sanded and polished;
Services: replaced electrical services re-using existing conduits, including rewiring and provision of new switchboard. Existing switchboard disconnected and retained in situ. Repaired light fittings where necessary, made good air conditioning (existing); removed asbestos from grilles of gas heating (existing);
New switches, power points installed with no damage to significant fabric, Existing switches retained in situ;
Painting - general repair, repainting of walls and previously painted joinery;
Plumbing - repair of hot water tank and heater;
Security - installed closed circuit security system;
External walls repainted with Murobond mineral silicate paint (to match existing finish), general repairs (patching, re-fixing existing materials & detailing);
Roof tiles: repaired broken tiles and painted to match existing colours.

(Front (street-side) Garden)
Exterior walls repainted with Murobond mineral silicate paint to match existing finish, infilled street wall 'porthole' openings with opaque glass, fixed metal sheet panels to 2 front vehicular gates;
Removal of dead lemon tree, unsafe African olive tree, dead Illawarra flame tree, 2 frangipani trees in poor health;
Planted new trees - 2 Wollemi pines (Wollemia nobilis) N & S in street-side western garden, 2 Canary Island palm trees (Phoenix canariensis) as matching pair at southern end of sunken ornamental pool, near street wall;
Removed 8 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, in poor condition (probably 1970s/80s cultivars).
Removed and replanted all perennial plant material (ground cover) on the street-side of the garden - Agapanthus, Clivia, Liriope;
Peeled Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) off walls, re-cut existing hedges;
Reduced canopy and dead wood of large mango and avocado tree overhanging Billyard Avenue, removed limbs of Port Jackson fig (Ficus rubiginosa) leaning on gate house;
Installed new plant material into garden - including ground cover of star jasmine, Korean box hedging;
Removed two original sandstone paths flanking ornamental pool;
Retiled sunken ornamental pool;
Installed pole-mounted security camera at perimeter wall on Billyard Avenue;
installed new garden around 1980s pond in guest house courtyard east of entry gates, to disguise 1980s pond;
Installed new low-water tolerant 'Sir Walter' buffalo grass lawn;
Reproduced missing and broken copper downpipe brackets to match existing;
Installed in line drip irrigation originating from existing irrigation valves throughout garden;
Positioned new garden lights removing 1980s additions and complimenting original garden wall-lights;
All hard surfaces cleaned with high water pressure.

(Rear (harbour-side) garden)
Jetty repaired and restored to an earlier state;
Sandstone steps from terrace to lawn replaced with new sandstone to match original layout and arrangement;
Reduced canopy and removed old wire from Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla) at rear of house;
Removed majority of strangler fig (Port Jackson fig seedling) from jacaranda (J.mimosifolia) at rear of house on west boundary;
Installed in line drip irrigation originating from existing irrigation valves throughout garden;
Lifted and replanted all perennial plant material (ground cover), replanted all Agapanthus, pruned frangipani's lower limbs on western side to open up garden, removed dead shrubs, limbs;
Installed new plant material, including Viburnum screening plants on boundaries and perennials (temporary plantings) in beds;
Positioned troughs planted with Box to disguise slumping in paving and on terrace;
Planted existing urns with Pittosporum, palms;
All hard surfaces cleaned with high water pressure.
(City Plan Heritage, 2006)
Current use: private house and garden
Former use: private house and garden

History

Historical notes: Elizabeth Bay had been the site of a fishing village established by Governor Macquarie (1810-21) in c.1815 for a composite group of Cadigal people - the indigenous inhabitants of the area surrounding Sydney Harbour - under the leadership of Bungaree (d.1830). Elizabeth Bay had been named in honour of Mrs Macquarie. Bungaree's group continued their nomadic life around the harbour foreshores. Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor 1821-5, designated Elizabeth Bay as the site of an asylum for the insane. A pen sketch by Edward Mason from 1822-3 shows a series of bark huts for the natives' in the locality. (HHT, 2000, p.38).

Governor Darling granted Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay 54 acres at Elizabeth Bay in 1826. From 1826-1926 the subject land was part of the Macleay family's Elizabeth Bay estate garden, in which Alexander built his mansion in the 1830s to the west. Built well before the house, the estate was widely considered at the time (1820s onward) as "the finest house and garden in the colony" and had a number of areas, in gardenesque style. Its walled 'orchard /orangery' was the harbour-side part in which Boomerang was later constructed.

After Alexander's bankruptcy son George subdivided and sold leaseholds between 1865-82. Billyard Avenue was formed to access some of the earliest allotments. In 1875 his cousin, William John Macleay, acquired the lease of blocks on the corner of Ithaca Road and Billyard Avenue. This allowed him to build his Macleayan Museum for his natural history collections, which had been previously stored in Elizabeth Bay House. These collections were transferred to the Macleayan Museum at the University of Sydney in 1888. William John Macleay constructed a building for the Linnean Society of NSW on an adjacent block in 1885. Several trees possibly from the grounds of the Linnean Hall remain today - some on Boomerang include an old avocado (Persea gratissima) and a large mango (Mangifera indica) on the external southern (street-side) front wall on the SE side of the entry gate. These trees are difficult to discern in photographs of the front garden of 1926 & 1929 (Read, S., pers.comm., 24/12/2007).

Also possibly from this time/Macleay ownership period is a large camellia (C.japonica) in front garden on W side of carriage drive near gate (this tree/shrub is at least 1920s, possibly older, and the Macleays were noted Camellia enthusiasts/hybridisers at Camden Park estate). Outside Boomerang remnants of the Linnean Hall grounds include a remnant black bean tree (Castanospermum australe) and Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) line the southern street boundary of adjacent Billyard Avenue properties to the west. Other estate remains elsewhere include a grotto (part natural sandstone cliff overhang, part carved niche and details, and sections of an elaborate sandstone steps and a retaining wall and balustrade, behind (south) of Art Deco flats across (south of) Billyard Avenue.

The house was constructed in 1926 for Frank Albert, sheet music/harmonica millionaire; its architect was Neville Hampson; its garden was designed by M.R. (Max) Shelley, possibly in conjunction with Hampson. It was built on the site of an earlier house called 'Boomerang', being one of a row of Edwardian homes built on a 1875 subdivision of Elizabeth Bay estate.

Mr A.J.Doust, a landscape gardener active in the Eastern Suburbs in the late 1920s and 1930s is also known to have worked on Boomerang's grounds, perhaps on its maintenance or adaptations as plantings matured.

The private cinema is one of few in Australia and appears a miniature version of the State or the Regent Theatres. It was hailed as one of the wonders of the cinematic world, when it opened in 1928. It was never open to the public and few but the priveledged guests at Sunday evening screenings, knew of its existence. Programmes were given out to guests attending sessions. It had burgundy velvet curtains, over 400 concealed lights (both curtains and lights could be centrally controlled by one person from the projection booth), sat 200 (in 1980 the seats had been removed) and was meticulously detailed, with a suite of film processing laboratories and dark rooms behind the projection room. A contemporary film magazine, commenting at the time of its opening, described the set up as the most extravagant in Australia and went on to call it 'the best motion picture outfit in the world'. (ibid, 1980, 91).

The garden and Shelley's involvement were featured in an article in magazine "The Home" of 1 February 1929, with photographs by Harold Cazneaux. Clearly based on Hollywood mansions of the period and well known in Sydney society at the time, Boomerang was the scene of much entertaining (Albert had a private cinema built in the basement for guests) and subsequent to his death, to much land speculation.

The garden, by then-popular designer Max Shelley, contained a myriad of sun loving shrubs and perennials. Due to the growth of shade trees, the return to a sun-loving garden is no longer a possibility. Shelley's original planting plan turned out to be unsuccessful for Boomerang and changes were made soon after the garden's original concept (Baldwin, c2005).

Albert also reputedly owned the adjoining 1880s property to the west, today called 'Berthong', on which the boathouse of Boomerang survives today. A 1936 aerial photograph by J M Leonard shows Boomerang's formal cruciform harbour-front garden, flanked by palms and shrubberies, with Berthong's open lawn to the west, and another house (later demolished) immediately to the east (on what is today Beare Park.

Albert was well known in Sydney yachting circles, owning the very large yacht, 'Boomerang', which he raced, moored at his private jetty, and stowed below the house in a specially designed area. This boat is today part of the Sydney heritage fleet. This vessel, originally named 'Bona', was designed by naval architect Walter Reeks and built in 1903. After having had several owners in Melbourne and Sydney it was sold to Frank Albert in 1929, who changed its name to 'Boomerang'. It remained in the Albert family until 1987 when it was presented to the Sydney Heritage Fleet, which has restored it. (SMH, 2003).

1962 Frank Albert died and the house remained empty for 16 years - neither son appeared to be interested. A live-in caretaker and gardener were its only occupants.

From 1978-96 a range of owners bought and subdivided it (creating lots to the east on Ithaca Gardens), part was acquired by Sydney City Council to extend Beare Park to avert an unsympathetic proposed block of flats to its north-east.

In 1978 Boomerang was sold to speculators Tom Hayson and son Ian, who quickly subdivided the estate (creating the lots to the east on Ithaca Road), and part which was acquired by Sydney City Council for an extension of Beare Park. (2008-9 works by the City Council have interpreted Boomerang's former tennis court on this part of the park, along with earlier slip ways and accesses to the harbour (Stuart Read, pers.comm., 3/9/9).

Also in 1978 House and c.1 acre with 3-car garage and chauffeur's quarters were resold for to oil recycler Peter Burnett and wife Astrid, becoming reputedly Sydney's and Australian's (Nicholl, 2017, 21) first million dollar sale ($1.2 million)($1.5m says Dawson, 1980, 46) The Dawsons redecorated at some expense (ibid).

1980 the property was auctioned but was passed in.

Warren Anderson, a property developer from Western Australia, bought Boomerang in 1981 (as well as Glenmore and Fernhill estates in the Mulgoa Valley south of Penrith and Tipperary pastoral stations in the Northern Territory )(Davies, 2014, 68).

In 1981 it was sold to businessman Peter Fox (thena financier of films). In July 1982 it was sold after Fox's death in a car crash to bookmaker Mark Read, who installed the swimming pool on the northern lawn, relocating the sundial to a garden bed in the north-east corner.

1985 sold to property developer Warren Anderson, and expansively furnished with Regency antiques, paintings and French empire clocks.

In 1991 Boomerang was listed for auction but did not attract a buyer. In September 1993 the Bank of New York took posession, after public legal disputes with Anderson. The property was listed for mortgagee auction. Tense competing team security guards had a stand off before the auction, triggering Supreme Court of NSW proceedings to evict Anderson. In 1993 telephone pager entrepreneur Nati Stoliar and his wife Miki bought the property.

Even (2017) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was once interested in buying the prestigious pile (Nicholl, 2017, 21).
Post 1996 it was sold to Kowloon based expatriate funds manager Duncan Mount and wife Sally for $20.7m (Nicholls, 2017, 21). Major improvements to property carried out under their ownership (including Butler's quarters/garage converted into guest quarters).

In 2000 Boomerang was listed for auction, selling in early 2002 to cleaning contractor, John and Julie Schaeffer (Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, 9 November 2002: 23). Schaeffer was also the owner of Bellevue Hill mansion, Rona (Nicholl, 2017, 21).

Boomerang was sold c.2005 below cost for $20m to billionaire Melbourne trucking magnate, Lindsay Fox of Linfox, who placed the property in his daughter Katrina's name (Nicholl, 2017, 21).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Eora Nation - sites evidencing occupation-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Associations with Bungaree, Cadigal man-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Scottish building and design practises-
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 Landscapes and gardens of domestic accommodation-
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 Landscapes of urban amenity-
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'-
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 Significant tree(s) providing urban amenity-
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 Landscapes demonstrating styles in landscape design-
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 celebrating multiculturalism-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
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. Owning and occupying a house-
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 the prosperous - mansions in town and country-
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 Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in urban settings-
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 Urban landscapes inspiring creative responses-
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. Creating works of art-
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. Building in response to climate - verandahs-
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. Designing making and using coats of arms and heraldry-
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. Designing landscapes in an exemplary style-
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. Designing in an exemplary architectural style-
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. Architectural styles and periods - Interwar Spanish Mission-
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. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
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. Creating an icon-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Kitchens and servants-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going boating and sailing-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Enjoying public parks and gardens-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Music composition-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Sport-Activities associated with organised recreational and health promotional activities Racing yachts-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Alexander Sloane, Riverina pastoralist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Frank Albert, sheet music millionaire-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Neville Hampson, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Max Shelley, garden designer, nurseryman, florist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor Sir (later Lord) Augustus F.S.Loftus, 1879-1884+-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Governor (Mjr-Gen., later Gnl., Sir) Ralph Darling and Eliza Darling, 1826-1830-

Recommended management:

Conservation management plan needed, to include garden, grounds and outlying elements such as former tennis court (now part of a public (Beare) park), former boathouse (now on neighbour's property to the west), jetty etc

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
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.

FRANK SARTOR
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

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0003802 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0003806 Apr 81 522016
Local Environmental Plan 5928 Jul 00 97 
National Trust of Australia register  6807   
Royal Australian Institute of Architects register  30 Mar 79   
Register of the National Estate 223131 Oct 80   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenApperly, Richard, Irving, Robert & Reynolds, Peter2002A pictorial guide to identifying Australian Architecture - styles & terms from 1788 to the present
WrittenArborSafe20182018 Mango Pruning Specification - 'Boomerang', 42 Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Passion Heritage Walk View detail
WrittenCarlin, Scott, NSW Historic Houses Trust2000Elizabeth Bay House - a history and guide
WrittenCity Plan Heritage2005Boomerang 42 Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay : heritage impact statement
WrittenDawson, Jonathan1980There's just no place like a million dollar house", in 'Sydney Extra', in Sunday Herald
WrittenJonathan Chancellor2002Buy Boomerang - yeah right, excerpt in "Smart Moves"
WrittenLandarc P/L2005City of Sydney Register of Significant Trees - Significant Trees under Private Ownership - 42 Billyard Avenue, Boomerang, Elizabeth Bay View detail
WrittenMyles Baldwin2006Digging up the past - the Sun Herald
WrittenNicholls, Stephen2017'All eyes on our trophies - Boomerang, Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay'
WrittenPaul Davies P/L2014Fernhill Conservation Management Plan, May 2014 Revised Endorsement Edition
WrittenPike, Penelope et al/State Planning Authority of NSW1976Elizabeth Bay House
WrittenRead, Stuart2002The Mysterious Mr Shelley

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045596
File number: 14/5219; S90/1684; HC 32046


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