Riversdale, Goulburn

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Riversdale is an early colonial house in Goulburn, New South Wales. It has been classified by the Heritage Council as a property of historical significance. The house was built in about 1840 and some of the outbuildings were constructed even earlier.[1] The property is owned by the National Trust.

Riversdale as a coaching inn[edit]

Advertisement placed in 1837 by Matthew Healy for the property which is now known as Riversdale.

The land on which Riversdale was built was originally owned by Matthew Healey who ran a small hotel on the property called the Old Goulburn Inn. In 1837 Healey sold a large amount of his Goulburn assets so that he could retire to Appin.[2] He placed an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1837[3] which gives a good description of the Inn (which was demolished) and surrounding buildings that were present at this time (see picture of advertisement on right).

John Richards bought the property and built Riversdale as a coaching inn (then called the Victoria Inn) in about 1840. Unfortunately he died before it was opened and his wife Ann took control of all of his businesses.[4] She placed the property in a trust for her sons.[5] In 1840 she married Benjamin Gould.

The first licensee of the inn was Louis Levy and Benjamin Gould held the licence from 1843 after him.[6] Their names are still painted on the stonework entrance archway to Riversdale. A story in the Sydney Morning Herald of July 1842 recounts the concern that Benjamin Gould had about the safety of the nearby bridge which crossed the Wollondilly River. The newspaper article said that he had repeatedly tried to repair the bridge himself and when the river flooded he took travellers over on horseback. On one occasion a traveller had drowned and he and Mr Levy were trying to find the body.[7] Later in the same year the Sydney Morning Herald told the story of how Gould and other men from the inn had rescued passengers from the Sydney mail coach which was attempting to cross the river when both horses fell through the bridge.[8]

Riversdale as Goulburn Grammar School[edit]

From about 1850 until 1856 Riversdale was rented by David Patterson as a boarding school for boys called Goulburn Grammar School. David Patterson was previously the Headmaster of Sydney College but in 1849 decided to go to Goulburn to establish his own school.[9] He was remembered by one former pupil as “a splendid man and a great scholar” who had the gift of imparting knowledge to others and although he was strict he was kind hearted.[10]

Shortly before David Patterson left Riversdale an advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald for the sale of the building. The ad gives a colourful description of the property as it was in 1855.

A substantial and extensive premises known as the Goulburn Grammar School and consisting of commodious dwelling-house containing 13 rooms and 2 extensive cellars and spacious flagged verandah, back and front; large kitchen and pantry adjoining, with loft and bedroom above; seven stall brick stable with two coach-houses and loft the whole length of the building capable of containing fifteen tons of hay.
Seven-stall stone stable with large store-room adjoining and loft the whole length of the building partitioned and capable of containing ten tons of hay and a thousand bushels of grain. Excellent garden of about an acre, well stocked with fruit trees.
The whole is securely fenced and there is the convenience of a bricked well of pure water on the premises."[11]

The property was sold to Thomas Bowen who in the following year sold it to Henry Wilson and the place again became an inn called the Criterion Hotel.[12] He sold it later to John Fulljames who used the house as a residence only.

The Fulljames family[edit]

Marriage notice in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1862 referring to the property as Riversdale.

John Fulljames was born in 1818.[13] He came to Sydney as chief steward on his uncle’s ship and stayed in the colony. In 1840 he married Elizabeth Smyth and established a stock agency in Goulburn shortly afterwards. John also owned the property called Cogenburgh at Bungonia. The couple had a large family. Two of their daughters Emily and Rachel married into the Badgery family.[14] (see photos below).

It seems that the Fulljames family resided at Riversdale from the early 1860s. A mention is made in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1861 that John had grown a prize apple at his house in the Old Township of Goulburn.[15] The first reference to the property being called Riversdale was in 1862 when a marriage notice (see picture on right) for the eldest daughter Emily was placed in the Sydney Morning Herald[16] by John Fulljames. It appears therefore that it was the Fulljames family that named Riversdale.

The Twynam family[edit]

Edward Twynam and Emily Rose Twynam

The Twynam family bought Riversdale in 1875 after leasing it for several years.[17] Edward Twynam was born in 1832 in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, England and came to Australia when he was 23. He obtained employment as an assistant surveyor soon after he arrived in Sydney and during his career he carried out many important surveys into the interior of New South Wales.[18] In 1888 he became the Surveyor-General of New South Wales and remained in this position until 1900.[19]

He came to live in Goulburn in 1864 and two years later in 1866 married Emily Rose Bolton.[20] Emily Rose was born in 1845.[21] She was one of nine children of the Reverend Robert Thorley Bolton and Jane Martha Ball. Her elder sister was Lady Mary Windeyer who became famous as a suffragette and charity worker.[22]

Emily was interested in art and craft and many of her works still remain. She was very competent in woodcarving, embroidery and drawing. In 1893 she won a prize for her embroidery at the Chicago International Exhibition. More than 130 drawings of plants birds and lizards survive in her sketchbooks. She carved furniture and picture frames with botanical themes some of which are displayed at Riversdale.[23]

Emily died in 1910 and Edward died at the age of 91 in 1923. After his death their two unmarried daughters Edith (see photo below) and Alice Joan who was a nursing sister lived at Riversdale. In 1939 after the death of her husband Phoebe Wesche (see photo below), another daughter, joined them.[24] All three sisters lived at Riversdale for the rest of their lives. When the youngest sister Alice Joan died in 1967 the property was sold to the National Trust and it is still owned and operated by them today.[25]


  1. ^ Heritage Council of New South Wales, "Riversdale", online reference http://www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/07_subnav_01_2.cfm?itemid=5051270
  2. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1837, p. 4.
  3. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1837, p. 4.
  4. ^ The Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser, 15 December 1838, p. 3.
  5. ^ Australian Council of National Trusts, “Historic Houses of Australia”, Cassell Australia Ltd, 1974, p. 30
  6. ^ Australian Council of National Trusts, “Historic Houses of Australia”, Cassell Australia Ltd, 1974, p. 30.
  7. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 1842, p. 2.
  8. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 1842, p. 3.
  9. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 1849, p. 3.
  10. ^ Australian Council of National Trusts, “Historic Houses of Australia”, Cassell Australia Ltd, 1974, p. 31.
  11. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 1855, p. 8.
  12. ^ Australian Council of National Trusts, “Historic Houses of Australia”, Cassell Australia Ltd, 1974, p. 31.
  13. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1896, p. 1 (spelt Fuljames)
  14. ^ Hardy, B. “From the Hawkesbury to the Monaro: The story of the Badgery Family” , Kangaroo Press, 1989, p. 86.
  15. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 1861, p. 4.
  16. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1862, p. 1.
  17. ^ Roxburgh, R. 1980 “Early Colonial Houses of New South Wales”, Lansdowne Press, Sydney, p. 471.
  18. ^ Obituary, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 April 1923, p. 8.
  19. ^ Roxburgh, R. 1980, p. 472.
  20. ^ Obituary of Edward Twynam, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 April 1823, p. 8.
  21. ^ New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages
  22. ^ Radi, H. 'Windeyer, Mary Elizabeth (1837 - 1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp 537-539.
  23. ^ Jessie Street National Women’s Library, 2004 “Emily Rose Twynam, 1845-1910”, Australian Women Fact File.
  24. ^ Rutledge, M 1990 “Wesche, Phoebe Ellen (1871-1950) Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 12, Melbourne University Press, p. 445.
  25. ^ National Trust, Website for Riversdale http://www.nationaltrust.com.au/properties/riversdale/default.asp

External links[edit]

  • Riversdale - official site at National Trust for Australia

Coordinates: 34°44′06″S 149°44′18″E / 34.7351°S 149.7383°E / -34.7351; 149.7383