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A long history with Tomago House

ALMOST 180 YEARS AGO, WHEN NEWCASTLE WAS LITTLE MORE THAN A VILLAGE, WORK STARTED ON WHAT IS NOW ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST SIGNIFICANT PROPERTIES: TOMAGO HOUSE.

Established as the kingdom of the Windeyer family by Sydney barrister and politician Richard Windeyer, Tomago House was built as the family’s country residence and the centrepiece of a large agricultural estate.

Richard Windeyer passed away in 1847 and it was left to his wife, Maria, to manage the building’s completion but also the estate’s development. She not only did that but also added a chapel in 1860-61.

Maria’s interest apparently continued after her death, with unexplained sightings of an elderly woman sitting in a rocking chair on the verandah, keeping a watchful eye on the property.

Tomago House stayed with the Windeyer family for 150 years but was acquired by Tomago Aluminium as part of the buffer zone established when the smelter was built.

To coincide with Australia’s 1986 bicentenary, TAC donated a five-hectare parcel of land – which included Tomago House – to the National Trust. The package also included plantings which are both historically and botanically significant. Tomago also donated $110,000 to the National Trust Bicentennial Program for restoration of special heritage properties

Despite giving the property back to the National Trust, Tomago Aluminium still takes an active interest in it, mowing the grounds four times a year and helping with fundraising.

“The CEO (Matt Howell) has been talking recently about increasing the company’s involvement with us so it is a developing picture,” the Chairperson of the Management Committee, Jenny Lamont said.

“Tomago House,” she added, “is the right house in the wrong place. It is culturally and historically significant but it is a long way to go for many people.”

This year’s TAC Family Picnic Day on September 9 will be held in the grounds of Tomago House with money raised from donations going towards its upkeep.

 

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