Built on a parcel of land originally awarded by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to William Douglass Campbell in 1815, Catherine Park House is steeped in history.
In 1817, 500 acres of the land was granted to George Molle, Lieutenant Governor of the Colony and second in charge to Governor Macquarie. He named it “Catherine Field”, after his wife, Catherine Molle.
The estate has passed through the hands of a number of prominent historical Australian figures, including one-time owner Hubert Harry Robbins. What was once the the long driveway approaching Catherine Park House is now designated as Robbins Lane.
Described simply as ‘a Sydney gentleman’, Robbins’ purchase of Catherine Park House in 1937 came exactly 100 years after its construction began. During his ownership, between 1937 to 1945, he made significant alterations and additions to the great house, including updating the facade from Victorian Italianate to Georgian Revival, still visible in the architecture today
At the time of European settlement, the region around Catherine Park House - referred to by early settlers as “Cowpastures” - was occupied by theDharawal Aboriginal people.
Cattle that strayed from Sydney Cove in 1788 were found three years later, thriving in the area known as Camden
Governor Macquarie grants 2000 acres of land to Captain William Douglas Campbell of the British merchant navy. This land comprised what is now known as Harrington Park, Harrington Grove, Catherine Park Estate and some of Oran Park, and was used for pastoral and farming purposes. It was named after Campbell’s ship, the Harrington, a 182 tonne brig reputed to be the fastest ship on the eastern seas.
1827 - 1842
1000 acres of the land was transferred to his nephew John Douglas Campbell, who was responsible for ordering the construction of Catherine Park House. In 1839, prior to the completion of the house, Campbell leased it to Henry Keck, Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol. Still incomplete in 1842, the lease was transferred to Henry William Johnson, who oversaw the completion of the home by 1857 and lived in it until 1867.
Purchased by Edward Lomas Moore, a wealthy grazier and one of the largest landholders in the Campbelltown district, who lived here until his death in 1887. The Moore family would own the property until 1939.
Hubert Harry Robbins – described as a ‘Sydney gentlemen’ undertakes significant alterations and additions, converting the original Victorian Italianate house into a Georgian Revival style building. Robbins was also responsible for construction of the driveway leading from the house directly to Oran Park Drive.
1945 - 1961
Camden Grazier and contractor Daniel James Cleary purchases Catherine Park Estate. In 1961 new owner Edward Alfred Star – a hotel proprietor from Sydney's eastern suburbs - converts the grounds of the estate into a trotting track, golf course and function centre. During this time Catherine Park House was used as the golf clubhouse.
Purchased by John Dawson-Damer – a motor racing enthusiast and younger brother of the Earl of Portarlington. He restored Catherine Park House and reinstated the historic driveway to Cobbitty Road (now Oran Park Drive). Also constructed swimming pool and sizeable garage for his internationally renowned collection of vintage Lotus racing cars.
There is an urban myth that Princess Diana stayed at Catherine Park House when visiting Australia in 1985.
Lady Mary Fairfax purchases Catherine Park Estate, and along with Harrington Estates has committed to preserving Catherine Park House to its historical finest.