Federation houses of Turramurra + Warrawee
By Alec Smart
Sydney’s Upper North Shore is renowned for its many grand Heritage-Listed homes in the distinctive ‘Federation’ style, especially in Ku-Ring-Gai. The 2074 postal district hosts a significant proportion of them, at least 34, which give the region character and charm, and is a factor people cite for why it is such a desirable area in which to live.
According to the Federation House website, “Ku-ring-gai Council has about 40 Heritage Conservation Areas, 26 State Heritage listed sites and 688 Local Heritage Listed sites.”
Ku-Ring-Gai Avenue, Turramurra is among the most prestigious Federation-period streets in greater Sydney and a listed Heritage Conservation Area – “recognised and valued for its special historical and aesthetic character.”
Indeed, do an online search for “suburbs with Federation houses in Sydney”. Ku-Ring-Gai Avenue automatically appears as a key locale to find Federation properties, alongside other prestigious addresses in the Eastern Suburbs (Woollahra, Paddington, Centennial Park), the Inner West (Newtown, Annandale) and the Lower North Shore (Mosman, Neutral Bay).
This is because there are 21 amazing Federation houses on Ku-Ring-Gai Ave (see list below).
44 Ku-Ring-Gai Ave Turramurra. Photo: Alec Smart
But what are ‘Federation’ style houses and how did the name come into currency?
According to ArchiPro website: “The Federation architectural period evolved in Australia at the turn of the century when, in 1901, Australian colonies collectively became the Commonwealth of Australia.
“A Federation home is an Australian version of the English Edwardian House. It drew on elements of Victorian style and Queen Anne revival period of 1895 to 1910.”
Queen Anne houses were lavish and reminiscent of ye olde English village houses from the Middle Ages Gothic and Elizabethan Renaissance (late Tudor) period. They typically feature a steep pointed conical turret resembling a church steeple; cross-gable roofs (triangular roofed sections set at right-angles); balconies with decorative timber edging; and ornate balusters (lathe-turned spindles holding up parapets and handrails).
ArchiPro continues, “Built mainly between 1900 and 1912, the Federation style was an ornate building featuring decorative motifs. Australian flowers, kangaroos and emus were all common on these homes… Federation houses were typically built in red brick or weatherboards. And usually, with a galvanised iron roof or terracotta roof tiles. They were mostly detached houses with gardens.
“The ends of gable and roof eaves had detailed wooden fretwork and ornate timber brackets. But also lead-light glass in the windows were often a feature…”
Springwood, Hastings Rd Warrawee. Photo: Alec Smart
Other key distinctions of Federation homes are the ‘earthy’ colours (terracotta tiled roofs and brown or dark red exterior brickwork) and a verandah at the front entrance.
However, at the onset of the First World War (July 1914 – Nov 1918), due to a shortage of tradespeople (sent into battle) and a worldwide economic recession that limited building materials and personal finances, people stopped building these ornate houses. Instead, a trend for plainer ‘bungalows’ was set in motion.
Origin of the Federation description
However, the term Federation didn’t come into common currency until the mid-20th century.
David Saunders, Professor of Architecture at the University of Adelaide from 1977 – 1986, coined the expression in his essay Domestic Styles of Australia’s Federation Period: Queen Anne and the Balcony Style, which was published in August 1969 in Architecture in Australia.
Thereafter the term ‘Federation style’ was popularised by other architects and historians referring to the retro-Anglo-meets-Australiana post-colonial housing, which featured value-added verandahs for the Australian lifestyle.
For example, Art Historian Bernard Smith, Foundation Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Sydney, used the term in his 1973-published book The Architectural Character of Glebe, Sydney, co-authored with his wife Kate (they both lived in Glebe).
Shalimar, 12 Ku-Ring-Gai Ave Turramurra. Photo: Alec Smart
Of course there are many sub-categories for the architectural anoraks who like to split hairs and draw deeper distinctions, such as Federation Queen Anne, Federation Filigree, Federation Academic Classical, Federation Free Classical, Federation Anglo-Dutch, Federation Romanesque, Federation Gothic, Federation Carpenter Gothic, Federation Warehouse, Federation Free Style, until, ahem, you experience Federation fatigue!
We here at 2074 magazine recommend you undertake your own architectural adventure and experience these magnificent mansions from the footpath. Some of them feature amazing anecdotes about their origins and original occupants, but we’ll save those for another day…
Ku-Ring-Gai Ave, Turramurra
* 1 Ku-ring-gai Ave; * Mildura #8; * Shalimar #12; * Wychwood #17; * Trelawney #25; * 26 Ku-ring-gai Ave; * Boongala #28; * Creighton #31; * Ypriana #34; * Illanscourt #37; * Cossington #43; * 44 Ku-ring-gai Ave; * Highfield #51; * Erahor #54; * Bellhaven #55; * The Terricks #60; * Cheppywood #61; * Egelabra #70; * The Grange #73; * Talagon #77.
When strolling along Ku-Ring-Gai Ave, take a detour at the southern end by crossing over the highway to visit the now boarded-up Hillview (1890, plus its guest cottage 1913) at 1334 Pacific Hwy; and at the northern end check out Ingleholme (1886-1910) at 17 Boomerang St.
* Pibrac (1888) 11 Pibrac Ave; * Roseburn (1900) 23 Pibrac Ave; * Springwood (1919) 34 Hastings Rd; * Cheddington (1890) 52 Hastings Rd; * Kooyong (1894) 55 Hastings Rd; * Wirepe (1893) 69 Hastings Rd; * Rowardennan, 5 Warrawee Ave; * Maiala 7 Warrawee Ave; * 33A Bangalla St; * Audley 37 Bangalla St; * Bangalla 20 Harrington Ave
Alight at Warrawee Station and walk the block clockwise. Start on Warrawee Ave and trek north to Bangalla St. Turn right then walk eastwards to Harrington Ave, then head south towards and along Eastern Rd. Turn right and westwards along Hastings Rd. Detour north through Pibrac Ave, before returning south to Hastings and turning right, to eventually re-join Warrawee Ave beside the station.
Ingleholme, Boomerang St Turramurra. Photo: Alec Smart
Rochester (1886) 51 Werona Ave; * Tulkiyan (1913) 707 Pacific Hwy; * Aberdour (1901, previously Gortgowan) 23 Nelson St; * Theace (1901) 24 Nelson St; * Millthorn (1901) 38 Nelson St.
Woodlands (1884, formerly Inglewood) 1 Werona Ave; * Mooralbeck (1904) 29 Stanhope Rd; * Currawinya (1901) 27 Powell St; * Yilleen (1901-20) 28 Springdale Rd; * Fairlands (1903) 65 Springdale Rd; * The Oaks (1907) 517 Pacific Hwy; * Fane Edge (1901) 663 Pacific Hwy; * Goondee (1901) 33 Killara Ave; * Lange (1901) 49 Springdale Rd; * Poitiers (1901-20) 66 Springdale Rd; * Misrule (1904) 36 Greengate Rd.
Rathlyn (1901) 5 Ortona Rd; * Mignon (1901) 8 Treatts Rd; * Quiraing (1901) 25 Highfield Rd.
Alister Brae (1904) 24 King Edward St; * Sandon (1908) 31 Telegraph Rd; * Caryina (1913) 35a – 37 Telegraph Rd; * Claremont (1897) 40 Telegraph Rd; * Redriff 53 Telegraph Rd.
Clooneen (1901) 149 Livingstone Ave – destroyed Oct 2019, despite an Interim Heritage Order issued in May 2018 to preserve the property, to make way for 19 retirement villas
Westover (1901) 26 Bancroft Ave; * Strontian (1904) 24 Bancroft Ave; * Wrendale 42 Bancroft Avenue, Roseville NSW
Highlands 9 Highlands Ave; * The Briars 14 Woonona Ave; * Berith Park 19 Billyard Ave; * Craignairn 37 Burns Rd: * Coolabah 39 Burns Rd; * Hazeldean 14 Burns Rd; * Malvern 41 Burns Rd; * Matakana 28 Lucinda Ave; * Rippon Grange 35-45 Water St; * Westholme 1 Water St; * Water Street Wahroonga NSW
Audley, Bangalla St Warrawee. Photo: Alec Smart
Australian Residential Architectural Styles
NSW State Heritage Map