The Story behind the creation of Woollamia Village Retreat on the South Coast NSW.
In early February 1998 Sue & Brian Brown commenced construction of Woollamia Village Retreat. The original thought was to build cedar weatherboard cabins however when it came to putting pencil to paper they changed their thinking. As it was approaching the centenary of Federation the idea developed to recreate public buildings of the federation era.
Barry Richards a long time acquaintance and draughtsman was given the concept and came back shortly afterwards with the idea on paper. He then set about completing the working drawings, which were submitted to council in August 1997. Council granted approval late January 1998.
Construction of the Police Station, Post Office and Church commenced on the 1st February 1998.
Overseer’s Cottage had been built prior to the Village for Sue’s Dad George who did unfortunately return Overseas. This was built incorporating the properties original garage and carport. The garage was turned into a bedroom, ensuite and WIR, an extension to the north was made to form a living area and kitchen and surrounding veranda to match the original home on the property.
Police Station: constructed between February 1998 and December 1998 opened for business 26th December 1998. The Police Station was inspired by, Brian’s Grandmother who purchased the Old Cobbora Courthouse near Dunnydoo and proceeded to restore it when her husband passed away.
The Cobargo Police Station was also an inspiration (although it was the original Court House), which we did not find out until we had completed our Police Station. The weatherboard building adjacent was the original Police Station.
The Cell block adjacent to the Woollamia Village Retreat Police Station was constructed using the Cell doors off the Old Jervis Bay Village Police Station built in the 1950’s.
The Charge Dock inside is from the Old Tea Garden’s Court House unfortunately we don’t know when it was built or demolished. Our Cell Block was loosely modelled on the one at the Pambula Court House.
The General Store: Constructed between November 2000 and September 2001. The inspiration for this building came from a number of sources, Burrawang and Barrengarry General Stores, an old store in Carcoar (which we thought had been a General Store but in fact had been a Boot Makers Shop).
We also liked a sketch by Gordon Hanley a Queensland artist, which is on display in the store. The cash register from a Pub, the Milk Cart from the Camden area. The signage and other items on display come from far and wide
The Post Office: Constructed between February 1998 and December 1998 it also opened for business on Boxing Day 1998.
This building was constructed from left overs and recycled building materials. The timber panelling in the bedroom was from the Captains Cottage at HMAS Creswell. The windows from Garry MacDonald’s home in the high ground above Berry. Bricks were left from varied building projects undertaken.
The Falls Creek Post Office sign was located in Goulburn, where it was explained, it had been used for concrete formwork (marks can be seen on the sign) by its previous owner. The Post Office was originally located at the corner of the Princes Highway (now Falls Road) and Parma Road and was later relocated to Falls Creek Village (Klimpton) but no longer exists. The Huskisson 2540 came off the old Huskisson Post Office built in the 20’s (where the Dolphin Explorer Cruises are now locate).
The Village Church: Constructed from February 1998 to July 1999 is a little unusual perhaps as, it was inspired by a Pre-School we built in Berry. It is built in the fashion of the old country Churches seen dotted around old Towns throughout Australia. The timber panelling was recycled from an old home in Nowra, the Pew is from the old Wandanian Church, which was moved off site (the site now houses Wandanian Yard & Garden). The 1880’s Easty Organ was from Armidale, the Lectern from the Asian Pentecostal Church (don’t know where) and the shutters on the western elevation from Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Earlwood.
The Bank: constructed between July 2000 and opened on 12th December 2000. It is a reflection of the good old days of Australia’s first bank the Bank of New South Wales established in 1817. There is some old banking memorabilia on display, moneyboxes, cheques etc. The shelves in the display cabinets are the old Teller screens from the Westpac Nowra refurbishment. The plaque was obtained from Queensland and arrived just prior to our opening.
The School: Constructed between January 2001 and October 2001. The inspiration for the School comes from the old family property “The Springs’ near Dubbo settled in the early 1800’s. The weatherboards at the end of the veranda come from the old Birriley Street School at Bomaderry, which was built in 1893. The blackboard is from Kiama a School built in the 1950’s, the bubbler was located in Wollongong.
The Village Inn: Constructed from March 2002 and completed in December 2002 being the final cottage. Inspired by the Slim Dusty song “A Pub With No Beer”. It’s hard to determine where all of the memorabilia comes from. The piano is 1800’s English most other bits have been picked up locally.
The Gazebo: This was constructed mid 2005 as an area for guests to sit and have a couple of drinks or a barbecue. Also ideal for intimate wedding Ceremonies.
The Village Hall – Guests Activities Room: This completes the construction phase at Woollamia Village Retreat. This building started its life as a workshop and has been converted to facilitate as an area for our guests to have get togethers or for small conferences etc. This is the most rustic of our buildings, however it comes with all the required facilities. It contains a kitchenette, disabled toilet, tables and chairs. This area was completed in April 2006.