As one of the oldest estates in the area, AWABA House and surrounds are steeped in history – and sometimes intrigue has followed!
Originally, the western foreshore of Lake Macquarie, from Teralba to Bolton Point, was granted to James Mitchell between 1822 and 1842, and totaled 1500 acres. After his death, the property was willed to his daughter and son-in-law, Margaret and William Quigley, and the area became known as the Quigley Estate.
The Quigley’s built the first Awaba House in 1878, just to the south of the site of the present house. In tragic circumstances, however, William died after a fall from a horse and Margaret died from burns when the house burned down in 1886.
The second Awaba House was built in 1887 by William’s brother Daniel, and his “Californian Redwood Residence” was occupied by his family until Thomas Braye, a Newcastle solicitor, obtained a mortgage over the fifteen acres of ground on which it stood, in 1913. The Braye family lived in the house until it was demolished in 1927 to make way for an even grander residence.
The third Awaba House was built in that year, to an elegant design by Edwin Sara, a noted Newcastle architect, and was the Braye family’s home until the Hospitals Commission of N.S.W. resumed the site in 1958. However, no hospital was built, and after many tenants and periods of neglect, Lake Macquarie City Council purchased the site in 1993. Awaba House operated as Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery from 1996 to the end of the year 2000. The house, with its elaborate roof, leadlight and portico, “art-deco” interior (and resident ghosts), has survived the years with relatively little damage and will soon be enjoyed by all visitors to the gallery in its glorious new role as a unique and remarkable restaurant!
Text adapted from research by David Davies