'ANAMBAH' - a Fairhall Link


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When William and Anne and their children were released from Quarantine, they were recorded as having left to find work at the Paterson River, and William was acting "on his own account". Other passengers from the "Maitland" had been engaged by various employers, so did William have a contact? Did he have a promise of work?

It appears that their son Thomas, who originally went to the Illawarra with George Wenham once they were released from quarantine, later followed his parents to the Hunter, as he married Jane Martin at West Maitland in 1844, and then worked on 'Anambah' for the Cobb family and subsequent owners. The Fairhalls probably lived in workers' or servants' quarters on the property (certainly not in the main house!). Eight of their children were born/baptised at 'Anambah', and Thomas apparently spent about thirty years there, prior to his retirement to Bolwarra.

It is recorded that George and John Cobb received the initial Grant of some 2000 acres from the Governor of New South Wales in 1823, and sold the property about thirty years later.

In the 1870's it was owned by the Mackay family, and the article and photographs below give some detail of the property as it stands today.

ANAMBAH Echoes Mackay Wealth

Anambah House - Maitland

If appearances are anything to go by then the Mackay family of "Anambah" Maitland seemed to avoid the economic upheavals of the 1890s. While many great colonial families were suffering from financial woes the Mackays, headed by John Kenneth Mackay, were in the process of building their high Victorian house on their grazing property on the western outskirts of Maitland.

The house, finished in 1889, was designed by J.W. Pender who also designed the White family homestead at "Belltrees", Scone. Anambah - with its beautiful cedar joinery, consists of 23 rooms, 10 marble fireplaces, tiled hall and verandah and a free standing billard room -stood as a testimony to the shrewd business acumen of the Mackay family.

The Mackay family kept the property until after World War I when it then passed to a succession of owners. However, during the next few decades the home fell into disrepair with the only residents being local birds.

The Dining and Drawing Room at Anambah     The Main Bedroom at Anambah

In 1980, the current owners Stephen and Heather Berry bought the property and decided to return the home to its former glory. Mr Berry said although the home needed complete renovation, no structural changes had occurred during the years. "The cedar was not painted and the fireplaces were still intact," he said. "Our aim is to give the home its Victorian feeling once again."

Mr Berry described the home as high Victorian boom style. It was a very flamboyant and decorative style and the architect Mr Pender piled decoration onto decoration when he designed Anambah, he said. No expense was spared by the Mackays; in addition to the home they also built elaborate brick stables and servant quarters, he said.

The original grant for the Anambah property was made to George Cobb in 1823 but his brother John Cobb, who received a grant at Minimbah near Singleton, farmed the holding. Mr Berry said the Cobbs owned the two properties until the mid-nineteenth century.

The Mackays, a well known grazing family from Dungog bought the holdings in the 1870s, he said. Mr Berry said the family used the farm as a fattening property for their cattle which were brought to Anambah for finishing before slaughter in Sydney.

This article by Louise Mills, from: The LAND MAGAZINE, 31 March, 1988 (Page 19)
The above photographs of the house exterior, the view from the Drawing Room into the Dining Room,
and the view of the Main Bedroom are from Issue 1 - 1998 of "Reflections" - magazine of the National Trust of Australia.


The Fairhall family was honoured to have Stephen and Heather Berry as guests for our Family Reunion on 8 November, 2008, and they shared with us some of the stories, and photographs, of the restoration of 'Anambah'. We have been advised that 'Anambah' was purchased in July 2011 by Maurizio and Jann Zappacosta, who are enthusiastically continuing the restoration of the lovely old home.


Historic Anambah Resources

1. University of Newcastle Pender Archive in The Auchmuty Library
2. Anambah documents to view from the Pender Archive
3. Anambah House Listing on the NSW State Heritage Register

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This page was updated on: 8 September 2020