Northern Illawarra’s aged cottages razed to make way for modern mansions

Fiona Reynold, says cottages such as those on High Street, Thirroul, are an important part of the area's appeal. Picture: Georgia Matts
Fiona Reynold, says cottages such as those on High Street, Thirroul, are an important part of the area's appeal. Picture: Georgia Matts

The northern Illawarra’s “coastal village character” is being eroded as a growing number of aged cottages are razed to make way for modern mansions and townhouses, but there is little community agitation over the issue, the region’s National Trust chair says.

Fiona Reynolds, chair of the Illawarra Shoalhaven branch of the National Trust, cites Thirroul and Austinmer as places that are losing some of the qualities that have made them so popular. 

“It’s disappointing to see the character of the northern suburbs, the small community character, slowly being eroded as these original homes are being bought and often knocked down, with either large homes or unit blocks replacing them,” she said. 

“That coastal village character is something that really makes those northern suburbs, and it is sad that they’re disappearing ever so quickly.” 

Ms Reynolds believes too much of the area’s historic housing stock is dismissed as worthless because it takes the form of “mining cottages or little seaside cottages” and not grand, ornate mansions.

“[Local history] groups and council possibly haven’t been diligent in ensuring some of these, what might be seen as small, insignificant houses, are recognised for what they do to represent the northern suburbs’ history," she said. 

“Somewhere like Newcastle, by its nature, has a lot more historic housing stock – there’s been maybe more community agitation and involvement to maintain areas. But in Wollongong, often we haven’t seen the importance of our own heritage and our history.” 

Cottages at 21 Hewitts Avenue and 13 Pass Avenue are among the latest in Thirroul slated for demolition, to make way for a block of units and a subdivision, respectively.

Development applications are currently before council.