The property known as Karoola is situated at 530 Wilberforce Road, Wilberforce, New South Wales. The land amounting to just over 2 acres, described as Lot 5 of Section 21 of the town of Wilberforce is part of a block which was promised to John Cobcroft, farmer by Governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie in 1818. Following an examination of his claim to the title for the land, a Torrens Title Certificate of Title - Volume 250 Folio 53 was issued to John Cobcroft on 8 December 1874.
Karoola from the front lawn. Cathy McHardy May 2021
In June 1890, the property was purchased by Ralph Turnbull, farmer of Wilberforce on which he intended to build his family home. Turnbull was born at Colo in 1846, the son of Ralph Turnbull and Sarah Matilda Reynolds. In 1872 he married Maria Ann Dunstan and the couple had a total of eleven children, eight of whom grew to adulthood. Karoola was home to several generations of the Turnbull family for over 80 years.
In December 1894, construction was commenced of a sandstone residence on the high point of the block. Stonework was carried out by Arnold Brothers and Jones of Ebenezer and Ralph Turnbull assisted in the transportation of the materials from the quarry at Ebenezer to the site. Albert Arnold was responsible for the construction of numerous sandstone buildings in the district including several houses at Cattai, Wilbow’s house and Bona Vista at Pitt Town, the Wesleyan Church at St Albans and Dunstan’s house at Kurrajong.
Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 1 December 1894, p 10, Wilberforce https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/66445378
The home was sited on the high point of the block, out of reach of the frequent flooding which had plagued the district for several years. Between June 1875 and March 1894, thirteen major floods had decimated crops, swept away livestock and destroyed numerous buildings, the highest during that period being in September 1879 when the water rose to just over thirteen metres or forty-three feet.
On 5 january 1895, the Windsor and Richmond Gazette reported that the “foundation of Mr. R. Turnbull’s new stone-house is now laid, and when completed will be both commodius and attractive.” By 2 May 1896, the Windsor and Richmond Gazette announced that the Turnbull’s home was completed and ready to be occupied - “Mr. Turnbull’s new house, which is a very handsome structure, constructed of stone, is now finished and ready for occupation”. The house is surrounded by wide verandahs supported by ornate cast iron posts and trimmed with beautiful cast iron lacework. French doors open from each room onto the verandah. The detached kitchen wing is also built from sandstone.
Karoola standing uninhabited and forlorn in an empty paddock. Cathy McHardy 1980.
The property remained in the Turnbull family until the last of their children, Gladys Dunstan Turnbull (born 1892) passed away in 1983. By this time the house and grounds had fallen into disrepair as it was not inhabited for many years. The property was sold in 1984 [https://hlrv.nswlrs.com.au/ Volume 8390 Folio 70] and the new owner set about the task of renovating the structure and conserving as much of the original fabric as could be retained. In addition, a comfortable slab building and barn was constructed to the side of the house during this period.
Karoola is listed as an item of local heritage significance and is described as late Victorian house with elements of the filigree style overlaid on a traditonal homestead - https://apps.environment.nsw.gov.au/dpcheritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=1740091
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