Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s backflip to save Gough Whitlam Childhood Home
We struggle a little with the concept of heritage protecting a house on the sole basis of its association with a historically important figure, event or group of people. While current policy recognises that this criteria would never be enough on its own, we feel the house needs to also have some architectural merit. Having said that we were appalled at the idea that the birth place of Gough Whitlam was to be demolished despite overwhelming community concern.
Ngara House was built in the Melbourne suburb of Kew in 1915 by Whitlam’s grandfather, master builder Edward Maddocks. It was named Ngara after an indigenous word of the Darug people of Sydney that means “to listen, hear and think”.
In a lot of case houses that should be locally listed have not yet be identified, and it is only the threat of demolition that forces councils to protect them. But of far more concern to me, in this particular case, is the fact that the overseas buyer of the property was required in just over a year to demolish a perfectly sound building and construct a new residence, or face potential difficulties with the Foreign Investment Review Board. What is that all about! We are a huge supporter of well-designed modern buildings but the majority just leave me cold.
The Heritage Council placed an Interim Protection Order on the house on October 23rd.
Click here to access the article by Mark Hawthorne, Clay Lucas and Nadia Wu in The Age.