Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc
incorporating the
Ku-ring-gai Family History Centre

Warrawee

Although Warrawee has had a railway station since the beginning of the 20th century, it could perhaps be argued that the history of the suburb is subsumed into the history of Wahroonga and Turramurra.  The local residents demanded that trains on the north shore line ‘stop here’ – this is the meaning of the Aboriginal word Warrawee – but the Railway Commissioners were reluctant to meet their demands.  However, the residents, or at least their spokesmen, were not without influence and on 1 August 1900, Warrawee station opened despite the objections of the Commissioners, who pointed out that the distance between Warrawee and Wahroonga stations was the shortest of any section of the line.

 
Warrawee Avenue (c1910 : June 2008)

The leader of those demanding the station was Colonel J C Remington, the manager of an insurance company and prominent in commercial circles.  He was supported by other businessmen, including J Beresford Grant, manager of an insurance company but later chairman of Raine & Horne.  His contribution to Warrawee’s lifestyle was to ensure that there are no shops at the station’s entrance.

Beresford Grant is said to have ‘gazumped’ every purchaser of land who planned to build a shop in the vicinity of the station.  Instead, Grant bought the land and commissioned the newly appointed Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney, Leslie Wilkinson, to design houses into which he progressively moved from his original home, designed by another prominent architect, B J Waterhouse.

Recently when signs designating suburban boundaries within the municipality were installed, the location of the Wahroonga/Warrawee sign brought forth strident calls for its relocation, and a clear indication that today Warrawee is indeed a separate suburb whose boundaries are well defined in the minds of its residents.

One of the leading architects of the 1890s was John Horbury Hunt, who designed The Highlands for the retailer Alfred James Hordern in 1891.  The Highlands sat on 34 acres of ground and fourteen gardeners were employed.

Walking down Warrawee Avenue, one is treated to an architectural feast.  Professor Wilkinson’s Maiala (No. 7) stands in front of the earlier home of the same name but now called Rowardennan (No. 5).  Opposite is Harwood (No. 2), one of the family homes of the architect Hugh Vernon.  No. 11 is an example of a more recent style, the so-called Post Modernism of James Muir.

At the intersection of Bangalla Street are Witchita (No. 10), named by an American after his home town, in neo-Tudor style and on the opposite corner, a magnificent example of the work of F Glynn Gilling, Audley.  A change in style follows with No. 16, designed by Glenn Murcutt in association with the Lend Lease Design Group, for a Lend Lease executive.  Other fine homes are visible including Kirkoswald (No. 22) from whose tower a child watching out for bushfires could, at the turn of century, earn pocket money and in whose lounge Nellie Melba is reported to have sung.

© Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc.