Moss Vale's historic Throsby Park could be yours to lease

Wanted: aspiring lord or lady of the manor to lease grand colonial house at Moss Vale that comes with own act of parliament. Must like the public, historic renovations and ghosts. Perfect fixer-upper for somebody with deep pockets and a big vision.

The NSW government will announce this week that it will lease Throsby Park for 40 years. It is the largest and most significant historic property to be entrusted to a member of the public in an attempt to keep the house and its history alive.

After a stint as a house museum, the grand home to six generations of Throsbies will very likely become another family's home again - other than the two days a year when it will be required to be open to the public.

''We want it to be a comfortable modern home,'' Historic Houses Trust of NSW assistant director Ian Innes said.

It will take work to make the 27-roomed homestead cosy. Built in 1834, it has 3.5-metre high ceilings, many decorated with pressed Wunderlich zinc. There is no heating other than fireplaces, and the bathrooms need work. There are two kitchens, neither of which would grace a decorating magazine without substantial investment.

Jill Chauncy, nee Throsby, remembers the house as a haven for relatives and local women who did not have anywhere else to go.

With its creaks and groans, Mrs Chauncy joked that the house could be haunted. Her sister Dell Throsby ran a famous horse-riding school. One cold morning in 2006, Dell was found dead in a paddock after creeping out of bed to put a rug on a horse.

The first woman to live at Throsby Park was Betsy, one of the few survivors of New Zealand's 1809 Boyd massacre when Maori warriors killed about 70 Europeans. The first Charles Throsby, a surgeon, arrived in Australia in 1802. The property includes 75 hectares plus Moss Vale's first cottage as well as a 100-page conservation plan.

After Ms Throsby's death, the National Parks and Wildlife Service turned the property into a house museum, but it did not attract enough visitors.

''The age has passed when all fantastic properties can be house museums,'' said Grace Karskens, a board member of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW and author of The Colony: A History of Early Sydney. ''This is a wonderful practical solution to the problem of historic properties falling down around our ears.''

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