Near the Harvey Visitor Centre, you’ll find Stirling Cottage – a replica 1850’s cottage that was home to Sir James Stirling and the creator of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, May Gibbs.
In the mid-1800s the first Governor of Western Australia, Sir James Stirling, selected 12,800 acres of fertile land in Harvey called it the ‘Harvey River Settlement’. The only improvement he made to the land was to build a cottage, known as “The Hut”. This convict built cottage on the banks of the tranquil Harvey River, featured a shingled roof and ‘pit-sawn’ jarrah walls with hexagonal-shaped paving blocks fitted together to form firm flooring. One of the original paving blocks can be seen in the Cottage history room today. As the ‘Harvey Estate’ was sold quite a few times over the years, the ‘cottage’ was home to many pioneering farming families.
In 1885 and 1886, famous author May Gibbs lived in the cottage with her family. It is believed that Gibbs drew much of her inspiration for her stories and illustrations from her experiences in Harvey. The original cottage was surrounded by gardens and fruit trees, and had a cellar which was often flooded in winter. A blacksmiths workshop and stables were added. Over the years, the cottage fell into disrepair, and by the end of the 1960s only a few bricks and stones remained. A lone pine tree marked the site of the Cottage, but this was blown down during a storm in 1985.
In 1994, the replica ‘Stirling Cottage’ was open to the public. A balcony has been added overlooking the tranquil Harvey River. The 1994 version of the cottage is located 500 metres downstream from the original site and features extensive landscaped Heritage Gardens, a 19th century style fountain, a mini orchard, enchanting secret garden and a gift shop, a room on local history and ‘Stirling Cottage Kitchen’ tearooms. Enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea on the balcony overlooking the peaceful River, or in winter sit by the cosy log fire and enjoy hearty homemade soup.
Public toilets are in a separate building called ‘The Stables’. Disabled facilities are located in the Tourist Bureau (next to the Cottage).
Please feel free to wander around and enjoy your visit to ‘Stirling Cottage’ before viewing the May Gibbs Gumnut Baby display at the Visitor Centre.
Image: FSH Photography