Historic Beauty Revealed in Yambacoona House Restoration

Yambacoona House is a significant historical homestead in the Federation style and dates back to the early settlement days of King Island. It has undergone major renovations to restore this grand home to its former self.

King Island Accommodation

Yambacoona is a small settlement on King Island about 30 kilometres north of Currie. The settlement’s name is most likely taken from a ship, the Yambacoona, which was owned by the firm of Stephenson and Gunn.

Yambacoona House was built in 1902 and sits on 17 acres of picturesque countryside. Visitors to King Island can stay at the house and experience the grandeur of a time gone by.

King Island Early Settlers

Yambacoona House is the legacy of cattle kings. It was built by the original cattle baron of the north, Francis Stephenson who commissioned Yambacoona House and who was in partnership with Gunn of Launceston.

Between 1916 and 1919 Yambacoona Estate was owned in partnership by the ultimate Australian cattle lord Sydney Kidman, who was seeking southern, high-rainfall cattle country. The land holdings were partitioned by the government to settle returned soldiers after World War I.

Original Design Features

The original design included an open veranda on the north façade with late Victorian lattice work on either side of a central post.

A short time after its construction, both the front and rear of the building entrances were enclosed with windows to create a sheltered entry/exit point. Photos from around 1910 indicate this was completed within the first 10 years of original construction.

A Wild and Beautiful Coastline

The house is nestled behind sand dunes that stretch along the coastline of Phoques Bay. These dunes were formed up to 12,000 years ago.

The low laying area surrounding the property were once a large marshy wetland, filled with birdlife. The Egg Lagoon marsh area was drained for farmland in 1922 using a mechanical rush cutter and a suction dredge shipped in from Sydney.

The creation of a drainage channel running north to Bob Lagoon is located to the north of the house.

Yambacoona House Restoration

The owner and the restoration driver is Gordon McKenzie and his family.

“I’m a born and bred King Island person, we lived just up the road at Egg Lagoon.

“My family first came to King Island around 1910, making me fourth generation KI. I dreamt that one day I could do something with the property. And then it was available.”

The restoration has taken more than two years and has involved local trades, spare hands, tradespeople from New Zealand (where Gordon and family currently live), Tasmanians, and mainlanders.

It has involved camping, hiring, borrowing and ingenuity when supplies have required importation to the island.

ABC Restoration Australia

Restoration Australia filmed the restoration progress and the episode will broadcast in mid-2024.

ABC TV covered some of the interesting items found during the renovation that give a glimpse of times gone by. A postcard from 1898, tarot cards and instructions dated around 1900, and stamps were found behind a fireplace mantle.

Handwritten Recipe

An interesting find was a handwritten potato yeast recipe written on a wall. 

Corey and Sarah Brazendale, owners of the King Island Brewhouse, used the yeast recipe to create a Yambacoona beer which was enjoyed by Mr McKenzie and the TV program’s presenter to celebrate the reveal. 

Historical Places to Stay

The new owners of Yambacoona House have plans to restore other heritage buildings in the area.

“I’ve bought the Yambacoona church with partners and this will be the next restoration project while Yambacoona House beds down.

“We hope to establish a small accommodation village on the church site while ensuring we keep the authenticity of the church, which my grandmother Winsome was a founding and lifelong member.”

Rewilding King Island Ecosystems

Yambacoona House is also working with local King Island Landcare partners to start the process of rewilding our property . When you stay at Yambacoona House you also help to preserve Boggy Creek, an Australian Geo Heritage site on the southern end of King Island.

The Tufa Terraces on this site was part of a family cattle farm for many generations. Now this protected area is fenced off and home to an array of endangered ecological plant communities and delicate formations of tufa terrace rim stone pools. The pools are nationally significant and are listed in the Tasmanian Geoheritage Database.

Protecting Heritage Sites

“We are encouraging more people to be involved to ensure these unique ecosystems are protected for future generations of King Islanders and Australians.

“To build a connection with this unique landscape, Yambacoona House is offering walking tours of Boggy Creek in partnership with King Island Walks. When booking through Yambacoona House all profits from this walk will go to the preservation and protection of the area.”

A Great Place to Visit

“I’m really looking forward to what we can do to bring the north and Yambacoona back to life with people.

“I’m also hoping to one day buy the hall and have that as a reception venue or bar cafe. I think the three buildings working together would make a great place for visitors and King Islanders alike,” Mr McKenzie said.

Copyright Acknowledgment 

Adaption and republication of this article is thanks to Pam Rolley and Font Publishing, owner of the King Island Courier.

Best King Island Accommodation Deals

Yambacoona House offers comfortable accomodation for up to eight people. This renovated Federation style home is close to pristine beaches, gourmet food, and world class golf courses. The property features include polished floors, a large kitchen, laundry, sunrooms, fire places, formal dining room, and a lounge room.

Yambacoona House Packages include our Gourmet Package, King Island Golf Package, and our Yambacoona House Signature Package.

Book now or contact Yambacoona House to plan your island escape.