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Published November 15th 2016
Fame and Fortune Made on the Sea Built this Majestic House
Last weekend I headed south to explore the Ballina area and what a treat that was. This huge old homestead attracted my attention on the drive into town, so I had to find out more. A wander through the Shaw's Bay pub beer garden led me to their stunning beach access, which was enhanced by the majestic homestead that had housed Captain Thomas Fenwick's family.
James Fenwick, the Captain's nephew designed and built it in 1886 for nine thousand pounds, a small fortune in those days. Captain Fenwick was the local tug master born in Scotland and raised on the Sydney waterfront. The locals revere him as 'the river captain' who was a blunt, strong-willed and ruthless character. His domineering energetic ways saw him running things locally his way with his family home announcing his wealth.
Apparently, the pub owned it for sometime and hired it out for local dos and weddings. One local said the history was displayed on the walls inside but as it is now privately owned I have had to make do with newspaper photos. This one gives a taste of the Italian marble tiles and fireplace, the English mahogany staircase, chandeliers, four metre high ceilings. There is even speculation about ghost stories such as perfume wafting from room to room or shadows flitting about, but we will never know.
Interior courtesy of Cathy Adams in the Northern Star