Sunday, 31 May 2009


When you take the train through the little mid-mountains town of Faulconbridge, you are high enough to glimpse an interesting ruin lying in grassy fields to the south of the railway line and the highway. This is all that remains of Eurama, once the home of Sir Henry Parkes, often referred to as Australia's "Father of Federation" Five times elected to Parliament in NSW (he had to resign three times due to bankruptcy) he was the dominant voice advocating Federation, although he died three years before it actually came to pass in 1901. (N.B. I may be wrong about Parkes living at Eurama. See the comment below from Anonymous. Unfortunately, I can't tell if Anonymous is a credible source since he/she didn't choose to leave a name or any references. Parkes certainly owned a great deal of land in Faulconbridge and I understood it included this piece. If so, he presumably sold it to the builder of Eurama.)

Last year we had made an effort to locate the ruin, but were defeated by a rough, unpaved road only suitable for a 4-wheel drive, certainly beyond the capacities of our little Echo.

On a recent sunny Sunday, we decided to try hiking in instead. Taking a wrong fork that we thought would lead there, we found ourselves eventually at a power-line pylon on the cliff edge and had to retrace our steps to the other fork. This one led us in the right direction and we emerged in the field we'd seen from the train.

The old mansion now has neither roof nor floor, but you can see that it was once a substantial property in the Gothic style, with walls of rough-cut sandstone and a square tower, now engulfed in ivy. Traces of garden beds, paths and shallow flights of steps are all overgrown with weeds and self-seeded saplings.

There is still a bit of old paving near the entrance,

and a motto carved on the lintel, by someone who wasn't very conversant with Latin. It should read Vi et Anima, meaning "By Strength and Spirit".

A cluster of agaves with strikingly tall flower spikes, the flowers long spent on this late autumn day, still stands among artfully jumbled rocks on the verge of bushland.

After a little on-line research, I found this old photo of the house as it once was.

Accompanying information says that it was built with stone quarried on the site. The estate included a tennis court, a large dam, and a circular driveway. Bushfires, and later vandalism, were responsible for its destruction, and the 164-hectare property has been derelict for several decades. Sir Henry Parkes was only one in a succession of owners; it is now owned by a development company which has plans for a gated community there, but on a positive note also intends to restore the house and grounds.


Kathryn said...

How long was your hike and is that ruin still there? Kindest Regards Kathryn

Anonymous said...

Hi Kathryn,

I was there around a month ago and the ruins were still intact.

Kind regards,

Christine Allen said...

Thanks, Angela, for the update. I haven't been back to check the condition of the ruin since I wrote the post.

I'd say it would take 20-30 minutes to walk there from the end of the paved road. It took us longer because we made a wrong turning. Stay to the right when the road forks and you won't have that problem.

Kathryn, if you go there, please post a comment on how it all looks now.

Anonymous said...

Eurama was never the home of Sir Henry Parkes. It was built for Andrew McCulloch and JW Cliff was the owner from 1897 to t0 1907. JW Cliff and his family owned the proerty from 1907 to the 1930s.

Pamela Smith said...

Sorry the Anonymous comment is incorrect...the Cliff family owned adjacent property. The land was purchased by McCulloch from Sir Alfred Stephen. McCulloch relocated a modest wooden cottage elsewhere and had George Mansfield draw up plans. Paddy Ryan (a local builder) built the house (now ruins) c1883. George Evans was the next owner and when he died the estate was purchased by his married daughter, Emily Ethel MacLaurin. Papers of Prof. E.C.B. MacLaurin (grandson of George Evans) provide a description of 'Eurama.' For a fuller description see The Making of a Mountain Community; A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District compiled by the Springwood Historians.
Pamela Smith (Master of History) Springwood Historians.

Christine Allen said...

Thank you, Pamela, for the additional detail and the references. This clarifies the ownership, but it seems I'm still wrong about Parkes having been one of the owners.