Anzac Cottage

As the adage goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Maybe so, however, we can kind of compete with that and say that our stunning ANZAC Cottage WAS built in a day.

The little beauty rests proudly on her 38 Kalgoorlie Street foundations in leafy Mount Hawthorn, and was brought to life on 12 February 1916 by the local community. She was built as a home for a wounded soldier who had returned from war, and his family, as well as a memorial for those who lost their lives in the tragic Gallipoli landing.

The community rallied together with donations to put this plan into action, and, initiated by the Mount Hawthorn Progress Association, made sure it was a memorial worthy enough for our Gallipoli vets. ANZAC Cottage was the first WWI memorial to be constructed in Western Australia and only the second in Australia.

The master plan kicked off on 29 January 1916 (on what we can presume was a stinking hot, Perth summer day), when the site was cleared. The following Saturday, 70 wagons packed with building material formed a procession down James Street and all the way to number 38 Kalgoorlie. Construction of the brick and tile cottage kicked off at 3:30am on 12 February 1916, and was supervised by builder Sidney Gibson. Just 13.5 hours later at 5pm, a flag was raised with the letters A.N.Z.A.C embroidered on it. With a little daylight left, the lawn was rolled out, the fence put up and the project was declared a roaring success.

ANZAC Cottage was officially opened on 15 April 1916 and Private Cuthbert John Porter had the honour of setting up home within her beautiful walls. Laden with Federation Queen Anne detailing and a variety of pressed metal ceilings, the building was designed by architect Alfred Levido and described as an “upgraded” worker’s cottage. Private Porter passed in 1964, and his family continued to live in the Cottage until 1971.

By 1991 the Cottage was extremely rundown, and the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia WA Branch Inc., took ownership to restore her to her former glory over the course of 10 years. This was only made possible thanks to the experts who formed the Anzac Cottage Restoration Group, a grant from the Lotteries Commission, financial assistance from the Department of Conservation and Heritage and Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as many generous donors.

When ANZAC Cottage celebrated her 90th birthday, we at the City of Vincent were proud as punch to take ownership. The lease was on a peppercorn rental arrangement by the Vietnam Veterans Association of WA.

Following this, a sub-committee was set up to keep the Cottage’s connection to the Mount Hawthorn and wider community going strong; it was called “Friends of ANZAC Cottage”.

To this day, the heritage-listed beauty still stands proudly and commands respect from all who lay eyes on her. February 2016 marked her Centenary and during her lifetime she has endured ownership dramas, neglect, triumph and the odd wrinkle or two – but nothing a little facelift couldn’t fix. She sits on the City’s Municipal Heritage Inventory, was State Heritage listed in 2000 and is also recognised on the Register of the National Estate and classified by the National Trust. Owners have come and gone, and perspectives of her use have been debated and changed, but her initial reason for existence by the Mount Hawthorn Progress Association has always remained the same.

Can I visit?

The Cottage is open to the public on the first Sunday of each month from 1pm to 4pm, while local schools and other interested groups can visit by appointment.

There are special commemorations held every year on:

  • 12 February (the construction anniversary)
  • 25 April (ANZAC Day)
  • 19 August (Vietnam Veterans Day)
  • 11 November (Remembrance Day)

More info?

Anne Chapple is happy to help: 0411 44 55 82 or email chapan@highway1.com.au

Listen up!

Reporter Kimberly Howie and heritage expert Richard Offen chat about the history of ANZAC Cottage. Listen to the radio episode of 720 ABC radio Perth's What’s all that about? Right here.

Anzac Cottage – Educational Resources

If you’re visiting the Cottage with students or simply want to learn more, then the documents below are a little goldmine.  They help to engage kids in their understanding and appreciation of the story of Anzac Cottage, and provide some more valuable info.

State Library resource

The State Library has digitised the original 1916 ANZAC Cottage Souvenir booklet – it’s pretty amazing. You can find it here.

If, after all of the above, you still crave more info, please call the Halls and Reserves Booking Officer on 9273 6565 or email here.