about summerlees
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Summerlees CottageSummerlees, as it is today (70 acres), is part of an original land grant (1822) in the Sutton Forest area of the Southern Highlands. This historic property, on a rise, stands to the east of the old South Road (today the Illawarra Highway) just a kilometre or so from the village, and a short distance from Moss Vale. At the rear the land falls away with spectacular views over the valley towards Exeter.

Descendants of the original owner (John Larkin) sold it to R.P. Richardson, a founding member of Richardson & Wrench, in 1872.

Richardson had owned the property next door ('Prospect') since the 1850s; this property was purchased by the NSW Government in 1882 and renamed 'Hillview' to be used by the State Governor for summer retreats from the heat of the city.

During the 1870s the cottage and stables were built. The cottage was derelict when the current owners purchased the property but has been restored with modern amenities to provide self-contained accommodation for up to 6 people. The rustic stables today are a favourite backdrop for wedding photos and advertising shoots.

Between 1881 and 1885 a grand Victorian mansion, one of the significant historic homes of Sutton Forest, was built next door to the cottage by the then owner, John Little - another partner in Richardson & Wrench. The property was then named 'Woodside'.

The old stables

Gracious livingThe mansion was built in two sections: a two storey brick building with iron lace verandahs at front; and two weatherboard wings surrounding a central courtyard at back, a style common for country houses at the time.

The main house, its 25 rooms restored after 2005 by the current owners, is today a private residence.

Being next door to 'Hillview', Sutton Forest attracted State Premiers, politicians and other notables who followed in the train of the Vice-regal seasonal promenade.

This procession would arrive at Moss Vale station, to refresh themselves in the lavish Governor's tea rooms and facilities there (now closed to the public) and journey the further few kilometres by horse and carriage to the great estates.

The majestic driveway of Summerlees, lined today by ancient elms, and leading up to the carriageway, gives a sense of journeying back to the days of an elegant and more tranquil past.

During these years the property passed to politician and stock & station agent H.S. Badgery (1887 - 1893) who renamed it 'Montreal'. It was during this time that the grand Victorian ballroom was built next to the house. Here notables of the past would gather for grand banquets and cotillions during the season. This ballroom, and the lovely gardens which surround it is today an ideal venue for country garden weddings.

Many famous names are associated with the property: Sir Matthew Stephen, Supreme Court Judge, who gave it the current name 'Summerlees; Sir Charles Lloyd Jones (of David Jones); Dame Nellie Melba, who is said to have planted a tulip tree; Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who planted a Chinese Elm (now gone); Sir Eugene Goossens; Sir Percy Spender, Foreign Minister at the time, who committed Australian forces to the Korean War during a stay.

The ballroom

Working cattle farmToday Summerlees has extensive gardens adorned with trees up to a century and a half old. runs Pinzgauer x Angus cattle, and other farm animals to delight the visitor.

The winding driveway, flanked by ancient elms, leads up to a 40 metre diameter circular carriageway in front of the mansion. Here it is easy to visualise the grand carriages of the visitors as the rolled up to enjoy the hospitality of Summerlees - something the modern visitor can do.

Summerlees, in the Southern Highlands is an easy 1 1/2 hours drive from Sydney and Canberra and 50 minutes from the coast. Summerlees Cottage is close the historic villages of Berrima, Bundanoon, Exeter, Moss Vale and Bowral.

Leisurely soak in the delightful art galleries, antique shops, wineries, cafes, restaurants and beautiful parks and open gardens.


Summerlees is a private property and open only to guests in the Cottage or garden wedding parties.

Last Updated 18/2/14

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