Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara, NSW 2071

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The Killara home of one of Australia’s most famous children’s authors, Ethel Turner, has been sold.

  • Woodlands, which was formerly known as Inglewood and Inglenook, was sold on 17 Jun 2017 “in the mid-$5 millions”.
Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara, NSW
Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara, NSW

Seven Little Australians (Cover 16th Ed.)
Seven Little Australians (Cover 16th Ed.)

Seven Little Australians: Cover of the 16th edition, 1912, publisher Ward Lock & Co, illustrations by J. Macfarlane:

Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara
Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara

Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara
Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara

Bedroom at Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara
Bedroom at Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara
Alfesco dining at Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara
Alfesco dining at Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara

The vendors Peter and Carol Himmelhoch had invested time in consulting with the State Heritage Register and Ku-ring-gai Council about upgrading the heritage property.external image -Ie8L1juliW9RwsL16O0rVxwuvXvaH4MHLawo6j0eDSKWUPugyX6DsaCMqdr-GwsVseP31sw8bxjhCc=w312-h220-rw
  • “There’s no ghost in it, everyone asks me that question,” she told the local paper.
  • The renovation project of the 2113-sqm property, built circa 1884, was undertaken over three years.
  • More than 500 sqm was added to the house, a swimming pool was installed and the tennis court was reinstated with a modern hard surface.
  • Woodlands will be the new home of an out-of-area family

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"Woodlands is a grand late Victorian residence, c1884, updated to Federation Filigree Style, and sympathetically extended in 2015; set on a magnificent 2113sqm block just 650m to Lindfield rail and shops.
Cazneaux’s portrait of Ethel Turner 1928
Cazneaux’s portrait of Ethel Turner 1928

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A landmark property of historical significance being Ethel Turner's home whilst writing 'Seven Little Australians'.

Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara, NSW
Woodlands, 1 Werona Avenue Killara, NSW

  • Impressive entry, wide central hallway, carved cedar staircase
  • Slate roof, wide return verandahs, stunning leadlight windows
  • Shuttered french doors, superb original fireplaces, high ceilings
  • Contemporary family living and dining rooms with fireplace
  • A gourmet open stone and gas kitchen with Smeg dual ovens
  • Glass doors flow to a Himalayan sandstone alfresco terrace
  • 21m heated mosaic-tiled lap pool and full sized tennis court
  • Light filled bedrooms open to verandahs; and attic or teen retreat
  • Master retreat with ensuite, walk-in robe, private balcony"


Above Right: Cazneaux’s portrait of Ethel Turner posing in the window of her study at her Mosman home, ‘Avenel’, 1928

Ethel Mary Turner (1870-1958), by May Moore, 1927
Ethel Mary Turner (1870-1958), by May Moore, 1927

Left: Ethel Mary Turner (1870-1958), by May Moore, 1927
National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an3084746

Statement of significance:

The c.1884 'Woodlands' (formerly known as 'Inglewood') is of State heritage significance for its historic association with the acclaimed Australian children's author Ethel Turner (1870 - 1958) whose most famous literary work 'Seven Little Australians' was written during Turner's occupancy of the property.
  • Ethel Turner lived at 'Woodlands' with her family from September 1891 to December 1894. During this period she wrote three books: her first and most famous children's novel 'Seven Little Australians'; its sequel 'The Family at Misrule'; and 'The Story of a Baby'. '
  • Seven Little Australians' and its sequel were strongly influenced by the social and domestic environment of Woodlands and its natural surroundings creating a provocative portrayal of children and Australian identity in the late 19th century.
"Seven Little Australians" has been in print for well over 100 years. It has sold over several million copies in the English language. It has been translated into at least 13 languages, performed as a stage play and been made into a film, a BBC television series in 1953, a 10 episode television series for the ABC in 1973 and a musical in 1988.
  • Woodlands is one of the earlier substantial Ku-ring-gai residences pre-dating the Hornsby to St Leonards railway line which opened in 1890.
  • The two storey late Victorian Georgian style house demonstrates many aspects of the Federation Filigree style having been remodelled during the Federation period. It provides a rare example of the layering of the Victorian and Federation era styles in domestic architecture.


Designer/Maker: 2nd Phase (Federation) - Architect Henry Austen Wilshire

Physical description: Construction years: 1884-

Woodlands' (formerly known as 'Inglewood' ('Inglenook' (KRGHS, 1996, 45) ) is situated on approximately 2,113 metre square corner block (formed of 2 lots) bound by Kiamala Crescent to the north and Werona Avenue to the west.
Heritage of Woodlands, Killara
Heritage of Woodlands, Killara

  • The house occupies a central position on the site with evidence of the original tennis court adjacent to the western side of the house. The original entrance (Treatts Road) is marked by two palm trees, subdivision of the property has altered the original front (southern) boundary.
In its original form (circa 1880) the house was a two storey square brick building reminiscent of the Victorian Georgian style ('a classic Georgian-styled two-storey villa with attic' (KRGHS, 1996, 45).
  • The bricks were coated with stucco and marked to give the appearance of ashlar masonry. A paint scrape on one of the external walls suggests that the original stuccoed brickwork was painted a pale red colour. The family that has owned the property since 1946 has advised that the masonry was painted a grey colour when they first purchased it.
  • It was originally approached from what was Treatt's Road, Lindfield (KRGHS, 1996, 45). The later subdivision of the property to the south fronting Treatt's Road has had a negative impact on the aesthetic attributes and landmark qualities of Woodlands.
  • The carriage loop was originally accessed with a driveway from Treatts Road as evidenced by two Canary Island palm trees (Phoenix canariensis) on the road which once flanked this driveway entry (Design 5, 2006, 44)(NB: there are several other such palm trees in a line on the nature strip of this road today - Stuart Read, 28/5/2010).

In its present form 'Woodlands' retains the original footprint of the Victorian house with extensive renovations to the external facade of the property and some modifications to the interior in the Federation Filigree style.
  • The Federation Filigree overlay is evident in the timber verandahs extending along the full length of the western side and approximately one third of the eastern perimeter.
  • Midway on the eastern wall is a timber and glass addition which houses the sunroom. Central to the front of the house is a two storey bay with gable roof, flanked either side by a timber verandah.
  • French doors on both upper and lower storeys are symmetrically aligned to the right and left of the front door. Each French door has adjoining timber shutters. The external brick walls are rendered and painted white. The roof is comprised of slate tile.
'Woodlands' c.1905 - 15 displaying the Federation Filigree style refurbishment of the exterior
'Woodlands' c.1905 - 15 displaying the Federation Filigree style refurbishment of the exterior

Entry into Woodlands is reached by an ascending series of sandstone steps flanked by sandstone step walls. The panelled front door is inset with a stained glass bird motif within a leadlight frame. Australian fauna motifs are repeated throughout - on the interior door leading to the rear of the house, and in a grand stained glass window above the cedar staircase.
  • The garden retains much of its early layout and fabric, with mature trees including the relatively rare Queensland lacebark (Brachychiton discolor), Illawarra flame (B.acerifolium) and two mature eucalypts (likely to be Sydney blue gum, E.saligna) on the nature strip / (Werona Avenue) street providing and retaining a sympathetic 'bushland' or 'rural' setting.
  • The tennis court formerly west of the house has been removed, although evidence of it remains. The existing half carrage loop with its central planting in front (south) of the house may be original features. These are now accessed from Werona Avenue. Access in Ethel Turner's time would have been from Treatts Road which is now subdivided off to form a separate allotment.
  • The rear garden facing Kiamala Crescent was subdivided off in the 1950s (part of it in the 1940s). A mature cocks-comb coral tree (Erythrina christa-galli), some eucalypts and a wooden paling fence face this rear address. Another tennis court was made in the north-east of the house in the 1950s when Kiamala Crescent and Werona Avenue works necessitated removal of the earlier court.

Physical condition

The property is substantially intact with original brickwork dating back to the 1880s. Subsequent renovations carried out in the early twentieth century include stained glass windows, timber work and fireplaces all of which remain in good condition.
  • During the time in which Andrew J. Sievers was owner, he installed 'an unusual luxury, a hot water system to serve bathroom, laundry and kitchen'. (P. Mills, 'The Birthplace of Seven Little Australians', Descent, Vol.3, Pt 3, 1967, p. 100).
  • This was an innovation which Sievers' brought with him following his return from Europe where he was Acting Consul to the Royal Swedish and Norwegian Consulate

Modifications and dates: 1884 - 1894

During the period when Ethel Turner was a resident of Woodlands, the dwelling was a square house with a long balcony and a painted striped bullnose verandah roof.
  • Ethel Turner describes the interior of the house in The Diaries of Ethel Turner "the Drawing Room is on the left hand side, a nice long room with four windows and pale blue walls.
  • On the right hand side was the Dining room - rather small, with a small room attached. Upstairs were four bedrooms, downstairs kitchen, servant's rooms and various outhouses.'
  • According to plans completed for the Sievers' renovation (Architect Henry-Austin Wilshire circa 1910), the layout of the house is as described by Ethel in her diary -
    • the Drawing Room 23 x 13.9 feet (7 x 4.23 metres) and Dining Room 23 x 14 feet (7 x 4.26 metres) on the ground floor level.
    • The upper floor comprising of four bedrooms.
    • On the left hand side Bedroom 1 being 14 x 13 feet (4.26 x 4.5 metres) at the front of the house,
    • Bedroom 2 being 17 x 14 feet (5.18 x 4.26 metres).
  • On the right hand side Bedroom 3 being 20 x 13 feet (6 x 4.5 metres), Bedroom 4 being 16 x 14 feet (4.87 x 4.26 metres).
  • Evidence suggests that the kitchen and servants quarters were contained within a lean-to style timber building.

Woodlands, Killara where Ethel Turner lived
Woodlands, Killara where Ethel Turner lived

Seven Little Australians keep their home

Tracey Fiertl's quest began naively enough. Five years ago she was studying for a diploma in local history and, as an assignment, had to prepare a conservation management plan on a house near her home on Sydney's North Shore. The first step was to find a house important enough to save.
  • After she had scoured the National Trust's register and knocked on doors that led nowhere, a friend mentioned that Woodlands in Killara might interest her. It was where the author Ethel Turner had lived in 1893 while writing the children's classic Seven Little Australians.
  • If it had been in Britain or the United States, the house already would have been a national landmark and possibly a museum. But Fiertl found that, apart from a few older residents, nobody knew the house or its history. As her obsession with its survival grew, she says, "It was fabulous to get so intimately involved with the author of the book I knew and loved as a child."

  • Through her amateur efforts, Woodlands has joined the May Gibbs museum, Nutcote, at Neutral Bay, and Patrick White's former home in Centennial Park, still a private residence, as the only writers' houses on the NSW State Heritage Register.
  • With the house about to go up for sale for the first time in 60 years, it was most likely saved from oblivion - like the other two - in the nick of time.

History of Woodlands


Ownership of the house passed to Andrew Johnstone Sievers in 1895 and subsequent renovations gave the property its current appearance of a distinctly Federation Filigree style property.
Image of 'Woodlands' c.1905 - 15 displaying the Federation Filigree style refurbishment
Image of 'Woodlands' c.1905 - 15 displaying the Federation Filigree style refurbishment

  • Cast iron decorations were replaced by turned timber verandah posts, a timber balcony around the perimeter of the building, and a new central two storey front bay with gable roof. Evidence of the attachments of original cast iron frieze and fringe are evident on the lower front wall.
  • On the eastern wall, the base of the verandah has been built over the original ashlar masonry wall, thereby protecting the original colour, a pale red, which can be viewed through a series of shallow arches.
  • Significant alterations were made to the size of the property. Sievers made additions which consisted of a laundry and kitchen and enclosed the verandah to the rear lower portion of the property. A bathroom and additional bedrooms were added to the upstairs level. Sievers also moved the cedar staircase from the front to the back of the hall.


Ku-ring-gai valuation cards stated that the house had 6 rooms and an office, with a slate roof, stables and shed.


Acquired by Eric Mills - the property extended from the present day Kiamala Crescent on the north to Treatts Road on the south and encompassed the formal entry to the property from Treatts Road.
Mrs Philippa Poole (grand daughter of Ethel Turner and author of 'The Diaries of Ethel Turner')
Mrs Philippa Poole (grand daughter of Ethel Turner and author of 'The Diaries of Ethel Turner')


The lands formerly associated with Woodlands to its north and east were subdivided and offered for auction under the title of the 'Waugh Estate' on 27 November, 1948.


Subdivision of 'Woodlands' and sale of the land fronting Treatts Road, Lindfield. The land subdivided and sold is the present Lot 1 DP 91685.


  • NSW State Heritage Listed
  • Conservation plan for Woodlands, Killara
  • Sale Notice and Photographs
  • Wikipedia: Ethel Turner
  • Wikipedia: Seven Little Australians
  • Biography: Ethel Turner -
    • ..."For diversion from a more ambitious work, Turner wrote her first children's book, Seven Little Australians. On the recommendation of William Steele, Melbourne representative of the English firm of Ward, Lock & Bowden, it was published in London in 1894. The first edition sold out in weeks and 'Ethel Sibyl Turner' (as she styled herself) was launched as a children's writer.
    • The Sydney suburban setting, the quiet comedy, the refusal to idealize family life and the insistence on the distinctive nature of Australian childhood experience set Seven Little Australians apart from its contemporaries. Although the novel shows the influence of Charlotte Yonge's The Daisy Chain (1856) and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868), it reverses the literary conventions of these works. When its heroine, the rebellious Judy Woolcot, dies after a ring-barked tree falls on her, there is none of the customary religious consolation for a young life cut short. The irascible Captain Woolcot (a version of Turner's stepfather Charles Cope) never becomes a model father; the other Woolcots remain imperfect; and, while the family fortunes vary, they do not essentially change. The domestic realism is sustained in the second Woolcot novel, The Family at Misrule (1895).
    • Deploring the 'free and easy, somewhat rowdy associations due to [the Australian] atmosphere, climate, environment and the influence of The Bulletin', in 1895 Steele urged Ethel Turner to consolidate her reputation by spending some time in English literary circles. She refused to leave Sydney and delay her wedding to the young barrister Herbert Raine Curlewis (1869-1942), to whom she had been unofficially engaged for four years. They were married at St John's Anglican Church, Gordon, on 22 April 1896."