Historic Monaro property to be auctioned

The historic Monaro property "Koolaroo" will be auctioned on Saturday February 23 by John Mooney & Co under instructions from the Executor of the Estate of the late Kathleen Mary Van De Wall.

It was purchased by her in 1960, after falling in love with the property, when on holidays in Cooma a few years earlier. The property, containing 72 acres, fronts the Myalla Road, about three kilometres south of Cooma and it also has a double frontage to the Cooma Creek.

One of the Monaro's oldest buildings is situated on the property and has been known as the "Rectory", "The Grange" and more recently "Koolaroo".

According to the article written in the Cooma-Monaro Express on August 2, 1967, under the heading Old houses of Monaro, "The Reverend Edward Gifford Pryce, MA was the last of the missionary chaplains sent to Australia by the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel and he resided in the house in 1843.

"The actual date the house was built seems to be lost in the mists of time. But it is certain that it was standing in 1843, before the first Anglican Church was built and while Cooma was still a run by that name owned by William Bradley.

"Rather different in style from the typical long low houses of that era, which may still be seen in the district, "The Grange" has a front section which is high, with the roof built on two levels and wings extending on each side towards the back enclosing a court yard.

"Like the majority of its contemporaries, the walls are built of rubble - large rocks joined together with mud plaster - and surfaced with a mixture of clay and cement. The front veranda, leading to the imposing Georgian front door, is flagged with very thick heavy stones , all cut to fit a geometrical pattern. High narrow double glass doors flanked by cedar shutters open onto the veranda from high ceiling rooms, where the doorways are beautifully panelled in cedar.

"Again, like most of the houses of this age and due to the materials used in their construction, most of the rooms are in varying sizes, ranging from huge to tiny. It seems to have been the custom in those days that "company" rooms were large and imposing, while those at the back of the house, usually the domain for the servants, were small and pokey.

"In 1845 Bishop Broughton, the Bishop of Australia, met Mr Pryce and discussed the erection of a place of worship. A sight was selected on the Cooma Creek, adjoining the Cemetery, and not far from Mr Pryce's residence. It is ironic to note that the Bishop himself designed the proposed building, while staying at Kirwan's Inn on the banks of Cooma Back Creek, because five years later Cooma was gazetted as a site for a village and houses and shops began to be built.

"The church was used for Devine Services until its distance from the growing township caused it to be regarded as inconveniently situated and a movement began to erect another church in Cooma itself. This was completed in 1872, the present St. Paul's Church and a new Rectory was built shortly afterwards near Cooma Creek with a frontage to Bombala Street.

"It is interesting to note that when in 1850 the first sales of land in the district took place, the sum of 21 pounds 17 shillings and 6 pence was "well and truly paid" for the land by Edward Gifford Pryce."

In later years "The Grange" with the ruins of stone buildings of earlier days around it was used as a dairy farm and over the past 50 years "Koolaroo" has operated as a small farm, including boarding kennels and cattery.

The auction of "Koolaroo" incorporating "The Grange" offers a rare opportunity to purchase and restore one of the Cooma District's oldest properties, well situated on the southern boundary of the Cooma township.

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