Urrbrae House, Fullarton Road, Glen Osmond S.A.
University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond SA 5064
- See also Federation Queen Anne style
Set in a beautiful formal rose garden setting, Urrbrae House is Peter Waite’s beautiful two-storey bluestone mansion built in 1891. Today Urrbrae House is maintained for its heritage value and features beautiful timber and unique decorations.
|Urrbrae House on Waite Campus, University of Adelaide|
Urrbrae House was completed in 1891 as the home of Peter and Matilda Waite.
- Peter Waite was a successful pastoralist who had migrated from Scotland in 1859. Waite and his family moved into the original single-storey Urrbrae House in 1877 but by the late 1880s found that a larger residence was needed.
- The new Urrbrae House was designed by C. H. Marryat and E. J. Woods, built by Nicholas W. Trudgen, and decorated by Aldam Heaton. Urrbrae House was Heaton’s only commission in Australia and his original ceiling papers can still be seen today.
- The house was the first private dwelling in South Australia to have electricity and the first in Australia to have a domestic refrigeration plant.
- The Urrbrae House Gardens were redeveloped in the 1990s to be sympathetic to the house’s original gardens.
|The Planned Gardens Overlooked by Urrbrae House|
- The Battery House, believed to be the first purpose built domestic powerhouse in South Australia. Peter Waite’s Garage.
- The Coach House, which housed the first laboratory of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute.
“Urrbrae” was the name given by MacGeorge to land he bought in 1846 in the foothills south of the city of Adelaide: “Urr” after his home parish in Scotland and “brae” denoting a slope or hillside especially near a creek or river.
- Peter Waite acquired the Urrbrae estate in the mid 1870s with the assistance of Thomas Elder. Waite and his family moved into the existing Urrbrae House in March 1877.
|Staircase from Main Hall of Urrbrae House|
The new Urrbrae House was designed by C. H. Marryat and E. J. Woods, built by Nicholas W. Trudgen and the interior decorations were designed by Aldam Heaton, a contemporary of William
Morris. After the death of its founder in 1897, Aldam Heaton & Co. would go on to design much of the interior of the Titanic. Urrbrae House was his only commission in Australia.
Main Hall of Urrbrae House
Original Furniture in the Urrbrae House Dining Room
The Restored Drawing Room at Urrbrae House
The Peter Waite Room
- Urrbrae House was the Waite family home until the deaths of Peter and Matilda in 1922. It was subsequently handed over to the University of Adelaide by their daughters, Lily and Eva Waite in February 1923 from which time it has been used for many
Following the deaths of Peter and Matilda in 1922, Urrbrae House was handed over to the University of Adelaide.
- From 1924 until 1973 the house was the residence of Directors of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute and their families.
- After being home to a staff club and cafeteria in the 1970s and 1980s, Urrbrae House underwent major restoration in the 1990s.
- Today, the house is used by the University community but is also open to the public. A permanent display about Peter
Waite’s life is found in the former Morning Room while the Main Bedroom houses an exhibition on the Waite Arboretum. The Dining Room, Library, Billiard Room and Butler’s Pantry all contain furniture from the Waite era. Part of the original servant’s electric bell system has recently been restored.
Urrbrae House Historic Precinct
The Urrbrae House Historic Precinct is situated on the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide on land bequeathed by Peter Waite to the University in 1922, for use in part as an agricultural research and teaching facility and in part as an area for public recreation. The land has remained unsubdivided since 1839.
|Urrbrae House Gate|
Today, Urrbrae House is an accredited museum with the History SA (formerly SA History Trust) ) and the Waite Historic Precinct, incorporating the Urrbrae House Historic Precinct is part of the University of Adelaide’s Office for Community Engagement.
- **Urrbrae House**, was completed in 1891 as the Waite family home.
- **The House Gardens**, redeveloped in the 1990s, are sympathetic to the original gardens surrounding Urrbrae House.
- The Battery House believed to be the first purpose built domestic powerhouse in South Australia.
- Peter Waite’s Garage.
- **The Coach House**, which housed the first laboratory of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute.
The Waite Historic Precinct includes the internationally renowned Waite Arboretum, Waite Conservation Reserve and the Urrbrae House Historic Precinct.
The Urrbrae House Historic Precinct and Waite Arboretum are listed on the State Heritage List and National Estate.
Thematic gardens surround Urrbrae House including the Sensory Garden and the Twentieth Century Rose Garden which traces the history of roses. A Garden of Discovery celebrates the scientific research of the Waite Institute while a Labyrinth has been constructed on the site of the original tennis court. Outdoor sculpture features throughout the gardens and adjacent Arboretum. 
The Waite Labyrinth
The History of the Gardens
In Peter Waite’s time, the Urrbrae House gardens included a Croquet Lawn, located west of the main house. This lawn was probably also used as an outdoor entertainment area, particularly for Adelaide Hunt Club functions.
- There was a Lavender Walk which may have been planted by Eva Waite and a Rose Arbour with timber posts and metal tube work which was covered with pale double yellow roses. The Rose Arbour would have stretched from the house to Claremont Avenue.
- Located on grounds, there was a Tennis Court, a Tennis Court Walk and adjacent a Tennis Pavilion with its own fully equipped kitchen.
- The original gardens also included a Wild Garden, Eva’s Garden and an Orchard with over one hundred trees. In the photo of Dorothy, Peter Waite’s only grandchild C.1907 (photo right) the Arbor entrance to Eva’s Garden can be seen.
- Roses linked the gardens throughout, transforming it from a fairly conventional Victorian design, to a more romantic cohesive garden.
The garden had formal lines contrary to the innovative “Arts and Crafts” style which is displayed within the house, and was largely separated from the house by the driveway and hedge.
As the major living spaces are almost all above the garden level, it was probably intended that the garden be viewed from above, perhaps from the veranda.
The current gardens have been designed to be innovative and aim to incorporate Peter Waite’s interest in the arts and new innovations. The overall plan is to have a number of linked “garden rooms” expressing the cultural, historical and social essence of Urrbrae House Historic Precinct and the people who lived and worked here.
- Community consultation has always been important in the development of new gardens. This has also included input from staff and students of the Waite Research Campus, local residents, Friends and volunteers and special interest gardening groups.
- The **Twentieth Century Rose Garden** comprises over 200 species and varieties tracing the history and development of roses from each decade of the twentieth century.
- **The Sensory Garden** was completed in 1998, and features plants to stimulate the senses. A panel of ceramic tiles by artists Bryan Woodcroft, Tingey and Andrew Noble reflect a sense of humour and sense of adventure.
- **The Garden of Discovery** incorporates a Science Discovery Trail which features a series of inlaid paths and outdoor bookworks celebrating 75 years of scientific research at the Waite Institute culminating in a beautiful statue of Ceres’ the goddess of Agriculture sculpted by Meliesa Judge.
- The newest addition to the Gardens is **The Labyrinth** created by the Director of the Arboretum Jennifer Gardner, constructed on the site of the original tennis court..
- **Outdoor Sculpture** is featured throughout both the Urrbrae House Gardens and The Waite Arboretum. The Mallee section of the Arboretum, formerly the orchard provides an ideal natural setting for artistic expression. Sculptures by Greg Johns and Silvio Apponyi in the Mallee section pay special tribute to Peter Waite, a benefactor of great generosity and foresight, and also make reference to elements in the Australian landscape. Other works in the Arboretum of special interest include ‘Floating Figure’ by Greg Johns,’Waterbirds’ by Meliesa Judge and ‘Owl Pole’ by Will Kuiper.
The Urrbrae House Gardens and The Waite Arboretum are open to the public every day from dawn to dusk.
Urrbrae House and the Coach House tours are held on the first Sunday of every month at 2pm. Bookings not essential. Duration: two hours. Urrbrae House is open weekdays 10am – 4pm.
The Waite Arboretum occupies 30 hectares and contains about 2,200 specimens representing more than 800 species in 200 genera, all growing under natural annual rainfall of 626 mm. Every tree is labelled and mapped. Special collections include eucalypts, pears, banksias and oaks.
$4 per person for guided tour.