Kooyong, Warrawee

Kooyong Estate, 55 Hastings Road Warrawee

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Kooyong’ is one of the Upper North Shore’s largest (although not the largest) and most impressive estates.

  • The 1894-built mansion was originally named Upton Gray and designed by the architect Sir John Sulman.
  • Although today Kooyong is undisputedly one of the Upper North Shore’s most prized estates, that status is more of a result of the substantial landholding it’s maintained through the years and less being a bellwether for prestige development in the area.
  • Sulman’s design of Upton Gray for John Gillespie of the Gillespie brothers’ Anchor Flour Mills was an emulation of Pibrac, Warrawee’s first mansion. (Pibrac was designed by John Horbury Hunt, Sydney’s pioneering architect of the Arts & Crafts and ‘North American Shingle’ style).
  • Upton Gray/Kooyong’s design quite clearly pays homage to neighbouring Pibrac’s roof lines (and material), double-storey asymmetry, and idiosyncratic chimneys, while incorporating a mixture brickwork and earth-toned stucco rendering that was quickly gaining steam in the lead up to Federation and the years immediately after.[1]


September 1, 2012
“This spring’s trophy listing on the upper north shore is Kooyong at Warrawee. Measuring 9000 square metres, it is the area’s largest estate, and one of its most historically significant properties as the circa-1895 mansion was designed by architect Sir John Sulman.

  • Originally named Upton Grey, the residence was built for the prominent industrialist Gillespie family, who lived there until 1917 when the property sold to William Henry Locke, the general manager of Royal Exchange Assurance of London, who renamed it Kooyong.
  • In 1928, Locke sold Kooyong to barrister Horace Markell, QC, who owned it until 1948 when the Australian government bought it for the Department of Social Services as a rehabilitation centre for female amputees.
  • it was bought by Knox Grammar School as a boarding house in 1986 for $2.3 million.
  • Jason Murray, chief financial officer of Sirius Minerals, and his interior designer wife Danni bought the 1895-built mansion in 2008 for $6.35 million from the Cahill family, and have extensively restored and renovated the property since then.
  • Kooyong today sits on over 2 acres of land (only small portions of the estate were subdivided off over the course of its history); it truly is one of the largest landholdings in the region.[2]
  • (The largest estate honour goes to ‘Mahratta’ at 1526 Pacific Hwy in Wahroonga that sits on nearly 7 acres of land; furthermore, 39 Chilton Parade in Warrawee sits on over 10,000sqm of land (compared to Kooyong’s 9,076sqm)).

November 8, 2013:
“The upper north shore has recorded its highest sale price for the year with a landmark Warrawee property fetching about $8 million.

  • The historic property known as Kooyong has smashed the year’s previous record of $6 million, which was set in June for another Warrawee property on Chilton Parade.
  • Kooyong was first listed in September 2012 for $9 million, and was relisted in April 2013 for $8.25 million with Darren Curtis and Ken Jacobs, of Ken Jacobs of Christie’s International.
  • Agents declined to comment but another local source said the final sale result was close to the asking price.”
  • The buyer is thought to be an upper north shore local.[3]
1943 aerial (above) showing contemporary parcel lines
1943 aerial (above) showing contemporary parcel lines
A recent aerial view below showing some impressive Pibrac Avenue comparables
A recent aerial view below showing some impressive Pibrac Avenue comparables

“In 1978, Kooyong was transferred to the CSIRO and it was used as a field station for parasite surveys. In 1986, shortly after the NSW government imposed an interim conservation order, the property was bought for $2.3 million by Knox Grammar School for use as a boarding house.

  • “When Knox sold the Hastings Road property to the Cahill family for $5.7 million in 2002 the grand house and its outbuildings were in a state of extreme disrepair. Subsequently, two blocks of land were subdivided from the estate and extensive renovations were carried out on the six-bedroom mansion, which retains original timber panelling and an elaborately carved timber fireplace in its entrance hall.
  • “In December 2008, the Cahills sold Kooyong for $6.35 million to Jason Murray, who was recently appointed chief financial officer of Sirius Minerals, and his interior designer wife, Danni.
  • The Murrays spent a small fortune on further renovations, which include a private pub in one of the three outbuildings.

Kooyong is listed at about $9 million through Scott Chadwick, the principal of Chadwick Real Estate, and Richard Simeon of Richardson & Wrench Mosman.
“An architectural treasure and an absolute lifestyle statement, Kooyong, (circa 1894) was designed by renowned architect John Sulman and showcases exceptional craftsmanship and a wealth of exquisite features reflecting on its rich heritage and timeless appeal.

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“When entering the estate you pass the delightful guest cottage, down the tree lined gravel driveway, which turns gently to reveal the manor house established proudly on the highest point of the estate.

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“Private and tranquil … Gracing over 9,000sq metres in the heart of Warrawee, the estate is one of the Upper North Shore’s most significant landholdings, with a commanding gated entrance to Hastings Road and a second 82 metre street frontage to the coveted Pibrac Avenue.

  • “The grounds take the form of a teardrop, with a private tree lined drive winding up to the main residence and rolling lawns, established gardens and mature trees affording unrivalled privacy.
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“The home is alive with an ambience born through an affinity with style, grace and effortless glamour. Gracious formal rooms have been lovingly restored offering stunning spaces to entertain and enjoy everyday family living, flowing out to the sun-drenched north facing terraces, court and pool.”

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Features include:

  • Accommodation offers six bedrooms; master suite with glorious views, open fire place, dressing room & en suite, guest retreat on upper floor & separate study downstairs
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  • Gourmet kitchen features fine Italian Marble, dual ilve ovens, fully integrated refrigerator, pantry, two retro Smeg dishwashers, twin CoolDrawer fridge freezers & Welsh slate sink (see illustrations far below)
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  • Formal lounge with open fire place, banquet style formal dining, home theatre/multimedia room, games rumpus and open plan family room present a range of living options
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  • Championship size tennis court, heated 12.5m in-ground pool, summer house, versatile gymnasium, home office & the “Pibrac Arms” boutique private pub
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  • Private two bedroom guest house positioned away from the main residence, offers a flexible option for guests/staff separate from the main house
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  • 4 car garage, watering system via 20,000 underground water storage, security alarm, reverse cycle air conditioning and a wealth of many other fine inclusions

“Since last selling for $6.35m in Dec 2008, the owners undertook a rather stunning renovation on the property giving it the appearance of a world class property as opposed to the usual tired Upper North Shore mansion 20 years (or 120 years) past its prime.”[4]

Kooyong’s dowdy kitchen at the time of its 2008 sale
Kooyong’s dowdy kitchen at the time of its 2008 sale
the kitchen as it appears today in all it’s rehabbed glory
the kitchen as it appears today in all it’s rehabbed glory


  1. ^ radicalterrace.com/post/30809445267/
  2. ^ http://smh.domain.com.au/real-estate-news/upper-norths-biggest-prize-20120831-25419.html
  3. ^ http://news.domain.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/upper-north-shore-clocks-8m-sale-20131108-2x6c3.html
  4. ^ radicalterrace.com/post/30809445267/

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