Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eulalia, Norman Park

You probably think that taking the photographs for the "Present" part of this blog is pretty easy - just swanning around with a camera, firing off shots here and there. For the most part that's true, I'll admit. But there are problematic parts to this endeavour too. Rain, for one. The rain we get in Brisbane tends to be the tropical downpour rather than the drizzle you might see elsewhere, so it's almost impossible to make a decent image, as well as being dangerous for photographer and camera alike. Then, of course, there is the ubiquitous white vehicle parked in front of the structure to be photographed. A giant white expanse can ruin any picture. But for today's post, I faced a different problem, and here it is. A dog. A very big dog. Who was hiding behind the gate while I approached, and then stood up on his hind legs with front paws on the gate just as I was about to click the shutter. And barked - not just a yap, but a deep, loud, spine-tingling BARK - the sort that makes the hair on your neck stand up. Scared me witless, it did!
(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

It's a pity that's as close as I could get to a picture of today's subject, because it is one of Brisbane's loveliest homes. But as well as a patrolling dog, the property is surrounded by mature trees, so taking a photograph of the building is very difficult. You can just make out some of the timber fretwork and a pavilion in the background of the photograph.

The house is called "Eulalia", and it was built in 1889 for Judge Patrick Real. It was a lavish house built on the crest of a hill in an area of 22 acres owned by Real that must have had great beauty at the time. Here is picture of the house taken in 1932,
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #19262)

Patrick Real's story is one of those that show that a poor immigrant with intelligence and a healthy work ethic can make a great deal of himself, despite the challenges that life can bring. Born in Ireland in 1846, he emigrated at age four with the rest of his family, but his father died on board the ship before arrival in Australia. When they arrived here in 1850, Patrick's mother took the family to Ipswich, south-west of Brisbane to live. Patrick finished his schooling at age twelve and was apprenticed to a carpenter, then he worked in the railway workshops at Ipswich.

His biography says that he became interested in the law around 1870. Because of the family's financial constraints, Patrick was forced to study whilst working and supporting his mother. Unable to pay a fee to join the Bar, he truncated five years articles into three, and was admitted to the Bar in 1874. Patrick Real was a lifetime teetotaller and non-smoker, about 191 cm (or 6'3" in the old language) tall, combative and intelligent. He quickly became a barrister of note, being one of the highest earners of his time, and in 1890 he was appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court.

Eulalia was designed by John Hall and Associates and built by Ipswich builders Morley Whitehead. The luxurious property contained a croquet lawn and tennis court, and reportedly held many fine gatherings. The area around the property still bears several reminders of Patrick Real - Patrick St, Real St and Judge St are legacies of the man who became Queensland's Senior Puisne Judge in 1903. He retired in 1922 and died at Eulalia in 1928.
(Photo: Copyright DSEWPaC)

After the judge's death, Eulalia had a mixed history. It was vacant for many years, even regarded by the locals as a haunted house. Subsequent owners the Hancock family, successful timber merchants, restored the house and then converted the grounds into a museum, the Early Street Historical Village. The Hancocks were supporters of the National Trust of Queensland, with Mr Stanley Hancock being president for a time. Regrettably, Early Street closed some years ago - I don't know who owns the property now.
(Photo: Courtesy Brisbane City Council; BCC-L11-959)

The state's Heritage Register describes the property this way:
"It has several rare and highly decorative architectural features, including the verandahs surrounding the bay windows and their finely detailed verandah posts and brackets. These features, combined with the fine quality of interior finishes and fittings, including cedar joinery, internal pilasters and columns, and flooring of tessellated tiles give Eulalia considerable aesthetic significance."

It's just a pity that the house is now so difficult to see!

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. Great house and even better surrounding property! especially verandas surrounding the bay windows, finely detailed veranda posts and brackets and flooring of tessellated tiles.

    Can you tell if the posts, brackets etc were originally iron or timber? For an 1889 house, we would not expect timber.

  2. Hels: From the Heritage Register:

    "The verandah continues around three sides of the house, featuring a cast iron balustrade separated by tapered octagonal timber posts with decorative capitals and fretwork brackets. The principal timber is beech."

  3. What an amazing man Patrick Real was ... self made. I can remember visiting Early Street whilst at primary school. Did other houses make up the museum? I can't remember.

  4. I seem to recall that there were other buildings there, MAG, but they were probably outbuildings of the original house.

  5. If any descendants of Patrick Real, or of any of the Reals from Ipswich read this, could they contact me? I have a connection through marriage to the Real family. Patrick's brother Michael Real was a one time Mayor of Ipswich.


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