A well known landmark in the Campbelltown district, Emily Cottage has drawn curious looks from passersby for years, probably ever since it was constructed. Today it stands apart from its neighbouring buildings, not only due to its obvious age and colonial origins, but also because of its isolation. The small cottage and its plot of land lies on Old Menangle Road, at the south end of Queen Street. Bounded by busy roads with commercial or public buildings and open space on all but one side, you can’t help but notice this miniature landmark. It’s as though history as well as the colonial roads it once stood beside, have moved around this tiny building instead of over it. Only existing today having been bypassed, main traffic today flows around Emily Cottage.
No one will argue the fact that it’s attractive, perhaps its isolation contributes to the appeal of this little building. A single story sandstone, with a little extra height allowing a living area beneath the gabled roof, with tiny “upstairs” windows peeking from under the scalloped bargeboards.
At first sight one might describe it as a doll’s house, in fact it could fit into the lounge room of some houses in the region. It must be remembered though, this was home to many people over its history, and there certainly are stories.
History is something most of us are fascinated with, it’s also something most of us wanted to leave alone while at school, all those dates to remember. Perhaps that’s why Emily Cottage has a somewhat cloudy past, people move on and forget, records are lost, and indifference to things we have no direct involvement with becomes routine. Emily Cottage is a little bit of Australia’s history, left standing alone amid its modern neighbours.
Every community has a group of people who keep an eye on these things, historians, they try and gather as much information as they can about anything and everything. The historians in the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society have collected all that there is currently available to know about this lovely building. It would be good to have more, but this is what we do have.
It’s not known for sure when Emily Cottage was built, certainly before 1844, possible as early as the mid 1820s as some stories go. Few hard facts are available about this early history, newspaper mentions from the late 1800s, and a map from 1844 have been found. Oral histories from people who were born in the cottage have been passed on to the society. Some of these are now in the societies archives, we continue to do what many have done before, repeat what we have heard, correct errors where we can, and continue to research.
Emily Cottage is privately owned and at the time of this writing, is for sale once again. We can only hope a new owner will have a vision of its past, as well as its future.