Hurstville (aka Bulwarra) is a heritage gem

GEM: The photo in the Goulburn Post calendar was scanned from a small original taken by the American and Australasian Photographic Company during a one-off visit in 1870 (photographer, Beaufoy Merlin). Photo supplied.
GEM: The photo in the Goulburn Post calendar was scanned from a small original taken by the American and Australasian Photographic Company during a one-off visit in 1870 (photographer, Beaufoy Merlin). Photo supplied.

A beautiful Victorian Italianate mansion in Goulburn called Hurstville (aka Bulwarra) is the featured photograph in the Goulburn Post’s 2017 Calendar for August. 

This mansion at 244-246 Cowper St, Goulburn has gone through many changes over the years and has been been a boys’ school, flats and a private residence. 

It was built in 1862 by Ann Hurst, the widow of the Reverend Benjamin Hurst to the design of J. Gould and built by F. Horn. 

The property was purchased by Dr. Joseph Sly and became Hurstville College, a private boys' school during the 1880s and 1890s. The college was conducted under the auspices of the Church of England for borders and day boys. Although Dr Sly built up the enrollment to 60 pupils, the school closed when the trustees sold the property.”

The Town and Country Journal Goulburn Herald (in 1879) notes it has: “a library of about 300 volumes has been provided by the headmaster for the gratuitous use of the boys.” 

The same tome also notes: “boys could study without interruption, and at the same time enjoy the benefits to be derived from residing in Goulburn, which is famed for its invigorating climate.” 

The house was apparently sold and the land was subdivided in 1888 for 70 allotments of Hurstville Park for villa residences. 

Russel Edward Conolly purchased it in 1904 and it is said that he renamed it “’Bulwarra’. Some subsequent owners were W.J. Nicholson 1918, G. Bracher 1921 and F.G. Leahy 1934.

The house was described in 1904 as being: “exceedingly handsome —built of brick with 14 inch walls, cemented, painted and slated with verandahs 8ft (2.4m) wide and 166ft (50m) around. The approach is through a massive iron gate and side gates with iron railing in front on a dwarf wall 130ft (389.6m) in length.' The house had bracketed eaves, a loggia, groining to the brickwork, decorative verandah, seven bedrooms, drawing room, dining room, sitting room, servants' quarters , bathroom and storeroom.”

It was subdivided again in the 1920s and 1930s and was first advertised as “Bulwarra Flats” in 1937.

The house was bought in about 2005 and has been extensively and lovingly restored to its original grandeur by Peter Caucino and Yvonne Arras, with the help of local conservation builders and tradesmen.

When they obtained it, Bulwarra was almost unrecognisable. Successive remodelling over the years had totally concealed the original building under a layer of ugly red brick, the verandahs had been filled in and the fine internal rooms had been broken up into six flats. 

The Goulburn Historical Society has assisted the Goulburn Post for this article.