Paint a picture of a perfect childhood and it may involve growing up in a grand old house by a lake with lots of bird life and plenty of room for adventure.
Lauris Kentwell has the distinction of being born in one of Illawarra's most historic homes affectionately known to many as The Lake House.
Buildings such as The California Manor, located at 31 Reddall Parade in Lake Illawarra, rarely come on the market but it has just been listed with Rachael Griffin, of Brailey First National Real Estate, Figtree Grove.
The news has brought back many memories for Mrs Kentwell.
As a young child she can recall dancing in the ballroom at the entrance of the majestic guest house every Saturday night.
And neighbours gathering outside to watch from Reddall Parade.
The California Manor was originally built at Oak Flats where it started life as a boarding house early last century.
There were 16 guest rooms and pianos in two corners greeting guests as they arrived.
The journey to the property would involve travelling by train to Albion Park Rail before boarding a ferry known as the Lady Albion.
These days Mrs Kentwell lives next door to the iconic building that her grandfather acquired years before and transported to its present location by floating it in sections on Lake Illawarra in the 1930's before Windang Bridge was built.
It's original location is thought to have been on or near The Esplanade.
"My grandfather John Ryan moved the guesthouse here on barges from Oak Flats," Mrs Kentwell she said.
"I've never been really sure whether it was at the sailing club or the boat club but it was moved before the bridge went in. It was quite a feat to move it and reassemble it".
Mrs Kentwell lived at The California Manor until she was married to well known local Rugby League player Charlie Kentwell. He played more than 218 games for Port Kembla, was Country Rugby League representative and declined offers to play for Sydney clubs because he didn't want to leave the area.
Mrs Kentwell most fondly recalls the dances in the ballroom put on for guests. It was before television and they often occurred every night.
"My mother played the piano. There were two pianos and sometimes a cousin who came down twice a year from Leeton would play the other one," she said.
"I remember one man who came with his two sons from Gwynneville every Christmas used to join in with his saxophone. Local people would come and stand here and just watch the dancing".
Mrs Kentwell said when her mother started getting older she took in mostly permanent boarders.
"We had a lot of school teachers," she said.
"One of them still calls in and visits me. We meet him at the club sometimes to have dinner and reminisce about the good old times at The Lake House.
"It has a wonderful history and it is in a magnificent location".
Ms Kentwell presently lives next to The California Manor where the tennis court used to be located.
She became such a good player she represented NSW.
"I actually toured with Margaret Court," she said.
On the other side of the guesthouse was a vacant lot where her father bred and trained greyhounds.
"We had some very good ones," Mrs Kentwell said.
"Dad once took four down to the cup in Melbourne, qualified three and they placed first, second and fourth. This house has a terrific history".
The California Manor has so much character and charm that walking up the path onto the large verandah and through the front door is like winding the clock back to another era. Venture inside and it is easy to get lost for a while in another century.
The present owners acquired the property six years ago and have not only enjoyed its size and grandeur but architectural appeal.
They have updated the iconic building but kept its period features. The facade remains mostly unchanged from when it was first built in Oak Flats.
Ms Griffin expects plenty of interest because there is no other property like it in the region.
But that also means there is nothing to compare it too.
While that does present a challenge of how much to ask she said it was a real privilege to be able to sell such a property.
Ms Griffin has made comparisons of what other large historic waterfront homes have sold for in locations such as Kiama and Stanwell Park. And expects it will appeal to anyone looking for such a rare and unique listing in coastal NSW. Particularly one that overlooks a lake entrance with plenty of parkland with uninterrupted views.
"There are so many amazing features. And it is lovely and quiet," she said.
"There is plenty of fishing, boating and everything else Lake Illawarra has to offer".
Ms Griffin said there is a shortage of property for all demographics at the moment and expects considerable interest in The California Manor for those who want to help write more of its wonderful history.
It is council approved for use as a guest house so can still be used for visitor accommodation," she said.
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