150 year old Bomera for sale

by AF


Bomera is a Victorian Italianate sandstone mansion located on the northern tip of the Potts Point Peninsula. The villa was built between 1856 and 1858 for colonial merchant William McQuade and designed by architect J.F. Hilly. It is the oldest remaining building at this end of Potts Point and one of the oldest in the area.

Known as a ‘marine villa’, the main facade was oriented to overlook the harbor rather than the street. The grounds of the house originally extended down to the waters of Woolloomooloo Bay where McQuade had built piers and boat sheds, but were later resumed by the Harbour Trust after a long and drawn out battle with Mr. McQuade. The original waterfront edge has now been infilled.

“Bomera’s house was designed with two directions in mind – Woolloomooloo Bay and the harbour to the north. Access from the south resulted in service areas, including stables and servants quarters, being located on the south side. Unlike later marine villas the main entrance from the carriageway was on the western side overlooking the harbour. The early Sydney roads were poor and arrival by water on the foreshore would have conferred a sense of status and the opportunity to impress by the extent of their gardens and recreational settings. The location of this main entrance to the west allowed both of these options. The original carriageway alignment remains in place with its stone edging. The two storeyed ashlar sandstone stables building remains in place at the entrance from Wylde Street. Garden elements include one of the original carved stone dogs, an 1890s iron picket fence, mature pine trees, two Californian desert fan palms, a Canary Island date palm, grass terrace at the rear (north-western) facade, a hedge demarcating a change of level to lower terraces, a swimming pool on the lower northern terrace, stone boundary walls and a tuckeroo tree” – Stuart Read, 26/3/2012.

In the late 1860s, the house was offered for the Duke of Edinburgh on his visit to Sydney, but the Duke preferred to stay in Government House.

It remained the home of the McQuade family until 1883. Afterwards it was the official residence of Commodore Erskine when he commanded the Royal Naval Squadron in Sydney.

In 1888, a neighboring Victorian-style mansion, Tarana, was built for McQuade’s son. Both Bomera and Tarana are Victorian marine villas and a great deal of their cultural significance lies in their relationship to each other. The buildings are significant because they provide a rare example of a pair of adjacent houses constructed for two successive generations of an important Australian family.

Tarana (right) and Bomera (left). Unknown date.

“Bomera and Tarana provide good examples of the nineteenth-century houses of the Potts Point area. Their survival in relatively intact condition, when virtually all their nearby contemporaries have fallen, is quite remarkable. Together they provide a waterfront component of the former nineteenth-century waterfront houses stretching from Darling Point to Potts Point. The precinct is also important because of their joint use as Naval Fleet Headquarters, Eastern Australian Command, during and after the Second World War and for its continuing association with the Navy” – NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage.

The entrance to Bomera in 1900 – National Library of Australia

Additions were made in 1876 and again in 1902. In 1876, an upper veranda with cast iron supports was added on the northern side. The ballroom on the southern side was added. It featured a timber coffered ceiling and originally had a glazed rooflight. The two-storey ballroom with musicians gallery supported on cast iron brackets is one of Bomera’s prominent features. A two-storey loggia was also added at the nort east corner. In 1902, the eastern side was extended to add a servants’ wing that joined the stables to the house. This was removed in 1941, with the exception of two rooms adjoining the house.

Between 1902 and 1941, the house was used to provide boarding accommodation. In 1911 it was acquired by the Sydney Harbour Trust.

From 1941 to 2000 it was the fleet headquarters for the Royal Australian Navy. Up until the 1980s, the ballroom was used for court-martial hearings. The Defence Department sold it in 2000 for $6.55 million. The sale included the neighboring Tarana.

Bomera and the ballroom in 2000 – The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

The current owners restored both properties, but sold off Tarana after converting it into a triplex. The heritage architecture firm of Graham Brooks & Associates were used to renovate the two mansions. Within just a few years after purchase, the owners received an offer of $15 million on Bomera but were not open to selling at that point.

The fully-restored home now has a bar in the ballroom that came from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

The listing

Bomera was first listed in early 2011 with hopes of $25 million plus. The price was then reduced to the $15 million mark in 2012, and it was sold in early 2012 for $12.5 million.


1 Wylde Street, Potts Point, Sydney, Australia

Unfortunately the images show the interior to be quite dark.

Listing information and recent images from Realestate.com.au (see here, here and here).

“Historic Sydney mansion yours for $25 million” Domain.com.au, 24 March 2011.
NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage