Anambah House | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Anambah House

Item details

Name of item: Anambah House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -32.6893930536 Long: 151.5065654340
Primary address: Anambah Road, Gosforth via Rutherford, NSW 2320
Parish: Gosforth
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Mindaribba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT70 DP714785
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Anambah RoadGosforth via RutherfordMaitlandGosforthNorthumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated

Statement of significance:

Anambah House with its house, billiard room, stables and gardens form a complete and intact example of a prosperous late 19th century graziers homestead. It is an important relic of the great agricultual heritage of the lower Hunter, now passing into history with the onset of the resources boom. The house is also significant as a major example of the work of J.W.Pender an important architect of the Hunter region.
Date significance updated: 02 Sep 11
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: J.W Pender architect
Construction years: 1889-1906
Physical description: Gardens:
Anambah House is set on a slight hill above a "lagoon" 5km north west of central Maitland. Its mature araucaria pines and silky oaks (Grevillea robusta) make it a prominent element in the surrounding countryside which is generally cleared of tree vegetation. It is approached via a service drive which has been planted with pines, native trees and African olives. The southern side of the formal garden is fenced by a picket fence and Cape plumbago (P.capensis) and Cape honeysuckle/ tecoma (Tecomaria capensis) hedges. These are punctuated by wrought iron gates hung off elaborate gate posts which lead to the gravelled carriage loop which has brick edging an drains. The perimeter plantings of African olive, tecoma and silky oak enclose the garden to the east. A lawn tennis court with a recently built pavilion lies to the north of the house. The garden has a collection of Brachychiton trees which include kurrajong (B. populneus), Queensland lacebark (B. discolor), bottle tree (B. rupestris) and an unusual hybrid Brachychiton.

Design Elements:
The front garden has a simplified late 19th century layout. It is defined by its enclosing hedges and is dominated by the carriage loop, mature silky oaks, jacarandas, araucarias and brachychitons. More recent additions are tallow trees (Sapium sebiferum) which are in the process of being pleached. To the rear of the house are of the house are mature figs, stone pines (Pinus pinea) and African olives. There is an intimate courtyard featuring palms and a fountain linking the kitchen area and billiard room and which acts as the informal entrance to the main house.

Perceptual Elements:
Prominent views out of the garden are to the hills to the north. The overall feeling in the garden, however, is one of enclosure with a focus on the strong design of the house and carriage loop. The vertical lines of the araucaria pines complement the height of the house. Small intimate spaces are provided by the billiard room lawn garden, the courtyard and the tennis court area. The sense of a country grazier's property is evoked by the combination of plant material and there is a feeling of quiet retreat into a former era. (AHC)

The formal homestead garden is approached through wrought iron gates hung on elaborately stuccoed brick gate posts set in a timber picket fence. The driveway and paths within this area are brick edged & guttered & were originally gravelled although they are now overgrown. There is an overgrown lawn tennis court and many superb trees, including Bunya pines (Araucaria bidwillii), silky oaks (Grevillea robusta), jacarandas (J.mimosifolia), orchid trees (Bauhinia x variegata cv.s),frangipanis (Plumeria rubra cv.s) & a Queensland bottle tree. The garden was sheltered from the prevailing winds by windbreaks of native olives & hedges of `Orange Honeysuckle' (Cape honeysuckle/tecoma (Tecomaria capensis)). Outlines of formal beds can still be seen in what are now lawns. The house is set on a hill overlooking what is called the `lagoon'. This is a picturesque small lake which is a habitat for the many water birds which frequent the area. The lagoon & the area between it and the house are considered very important to the house's setting. (NTA, 1986).

Built 1889 for grazier J K Mackay. House: A large two storey Victorian grazier's mansion of sandstock brick & hipped slate roof with two storey cast-iron verandahs on three sides, punctuated by two elaborately stuccoed bays. At the rear is a courtyard enclosed on 3 sides by the main house, kitchen wing and servants' rooms & on the 4th side by the later (1906) billiard room, also to Pender's design. The house is in a good state of preservation internally & features polished cedar joinery throughout including the staircase and large folding doors are filled with small stained-glass panels depicting birds & butterflies. There are also two large stained glass windows & on the stair landing. The plasterwork to arches & ceiling cornices is also in good condition & quite elaborate. There are 2 pressed metal ceilings in upstairs bedrooms replacing earlier plaster ceilings & a pressed metal ceiling & dado in the billiard room. There are 10 fireplaces of pink, black, grey or white marble. All feature different tiles to hearths & grates. The brass, porcelain-tipped picture rails & several of the large brass curtain rods are still in position. The main entrance hallway & verandahs feature floors of encaustic tiles in geometric patterns. Electric servants bell-pushes are still in position in most main rooms, although the original bell-board has disappeared & some of the gas brackets are still intact from the time when the house had its own gas generating plant. The drawing room & dining rooms still have their original carpets although in somewhat worn condition. Externally the house is in good, if run-down, condition with original cast-iron lace all intact.
Building Material: Sandstock brick, hipped slate roof, cast-iron verandahs, cedar joinery, pressed metal ceilings

2 storey, sandstock brick stable block includes grooms quarters & hay loft over buggy room, harness room & horse boxes with original wood-blocked floors.

A typical rude timber farm building of the period, with slab sides & iron roof.

Garage & Dairy:
Weatherboard structures important only as part of the homestead group.

Well constructed of sandstock brick. One for servants & one for family. Built over deep brick-arched pits. The family one is tiled to dado height & is a `2 seater'. (NTA, 1983)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:02 Sep 11
Modifications and dates: The house is in a good state of preservation internally. The plasterwork to arches & ceiling cornices is also in good condition. The brass, porcelain-tipped picture rails & several of the large brass curtain rods are still in position. Electric servants bell-pushes are still in position in most main rooms, although the original bell-board has disappeared & some of the gas brackets are still intact from the time when the house had its own gas generating plant. The drawing room & dining rooms still have their original carpets although in somewhat worn condition. Externally the house is in good, if run-down, condition with original cast-iron lace all intact. (NTA, 1983).

The garden is in good condition and elements such as the hedges have been progressively restored by the present owners. Its basic layout is intact although there has been a reduction in the number of perennial and annual beds (AHC)]

1906 billiard room, also to Pender's design.
1993 Tennis pavilion and tree house installed at this time and the garden provide a film set. (AHC).
Current use: Residence
Former use: Residence


Historical notes: Anambah House was built in 1889 by the wealthy grazier J.K. Mackay for his son William. It was designed architect J.W Pender of Maitland. Architectural drawings exist but they do not indicate a garden layout. This family is thought to have owned properties in Queensland which may have been the source of the bottle tree, often associated with droving, and the lacebark trees. Oral history sources suggest that cattle drives from Queensland properties terminated at the Anambah property before going to the Sydney markets. Early photos show the established carriage loop, formal garden beds filled with flowers set in the lawn and the tennis court. Over time the layout has become simplified. The courtyard garden was established by the present owners and the brick-edged carriage loop was re-surfaced during the filming of the movie "Country Life" in 1993. The tennis pavilion and a tree house were installed at this time and the garden provide a set. (AHC).

The original grantee, George Cobb's daughter Mary, married Francis White of Edinglassie in 1853 and 4 of their children were born at Anambah (in the earlier house.) These children later established Belltrees at Scone. The Mackay family bought both Anambah & Minimbah (at Singleton) from the Cobbs in the 1870s & built both the present Anambah and Minimbah houses. They also owned Redleaf House in Woollahra (now Woollahra Council Chambers). The Mackay family are descendants of Duncan Forbes Mackay, Superintendent of Prisons and Public Works in Newcastle in 1827, who settled at Dungog. Various famous people have stayed in the house, including Dame Nellie Melba (c1908) & the Governors the Earl of Dudley & Lord Gowrie. In the 1950s Anambah was the home of Hal Lashwood, one of the greats of Australian radio & during this period radio entertainers such as Roy Rene (Mo) & Jack Davey stayed in the house. (NTA, 1983).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Country Villa-

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 0027502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0027523 Sep 83 1284358
Local Environmental Plan 199303 Sep 93 985524
National Trust of Australia register Anambah (including wings, outbuildings & gardens)3776, 368723 May 83   
Register of the National Estate - InterimAnambah Gardens101391   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBranch Managers Report 102/851983Heritage Council Agenda Paper
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW)1998Reflections - Issue 1

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045641
File number: S90/05016 & HC 32956

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