May Gibbs Nutcote

We didn't set out that day to find Nutcote, but we'd seen signs of May Gibbs along our walks, little reminders of her stories are to be found in the plantings and sculpture around the area.

May Gibbs characters on the harbour walk at Milsons Point.

I noticed this building as we were pulling up in the ferry, some houses just seem to have a story to tell, don't you think? Well, turned out that we'd stumbled across, Once Upon A Time.

This is certainly the land of the stairs this area. But somehow, this ferry stop seemed a little bit magical.

At the top of the stairs we were fascinated to find this sign.
1935 Once Upon a Time. 1936
Live Peaceably with all so shall
thou lead a happy life thouself.
~ Goethe.

I had to find out more...

Once Upon A Time. Former home of William Alfred Leopold Crowle, its entrance gates are presided over by a stone lion ( formerly two) supposedly bought from the London Houses of Parliament after the WWII blitz. Nearby are verses from Goethe, including (in German) “When someone makes a journey they have a story to tell”. This is a house with a journey and a story to tell.

Crowle was a Sydney importer, businessman and inveterate traveler and collector. In 1935-36 he had designed and built Wyldefel Gardens stepping down a hillside in a ‘V’ to the waterfront at Potts Point. This townhouse development with its flat roofs and modern styling was a radical innovation for Sydney. At the water’s edge, he built his own house, Once Upon A Time, the bottom floor being the boatshed for his yacht. Returning in 1940 after three years of traveling, Crowle found that the navy was about to acquire his estate for the development of Captain Cook Graving Dock and to connect Garden Island to the mainland. Rather than lose his house, he had it dismantled and bought across to Kurraba Point on barges for reassembly. Crowle died in 1959 and his enormous collections of artifacts and books were auctioned off. Once Upon A Time is now three apartments. ~ Information from May Gibbs Neutral Bay Walk

How fabulous to live in a house called Once Upon A Time, how fabulous to have called this house that. I think I want a house called Once Upon A Time.

It was such a beautiful feeling to have discovered those words at the top of the stairs. One of the delights from just wandering... Anyway, walking on a little way, we noticed a sign to May Gibbs home, Nutcote. So we followed the sign and found a wonderful little place, one that has the feeling that lives have been lived there, with many happy memories.

"Once upon a time, on the beautiful Sydney shoreline, was a house called Nutcote and in that house lived a remarkable woman called May Gibbs who turned gumnuts into tiny people and banksias into villains." ~ Angus Stewart

Little Toby the darling Havanese we are minding, looks to me like he could be one of May Gibbs little characters.

The dear little Bib and Bub tea room.

Speaking of Bib and Bub.

"This is May Gibbs. At the moment I live in a house in Neutral Bay, Sydney and it's a dear little place with a long, long garden. I'm very fond of it. The first books that I ever did were the flower books or the Boronia Babies, Wattle Babies, Gumnut Babies and I think another baby - Flannel Flower Babies."

"I used to walk about the garden, weeding the garden and loving it," the recording continues, "with a book in my pocket and a pencil and that's where I got all my ideas. I used to think of them when I was gardening." ~ From the video in Nutcote.

Watch out for The Banksia Man though. Abduction of little ragged blossom by the big bad Banksia Man, and saved by Mr. Lizard.

May loved her dogs.

You know how some places just exude a feeling?

Well Nutcote exudes happiness.

The stairs down to Sydney Harbour

A sweet garden.

See if you can spot the little blue sculpture out on the rock.

May Gibbs was one of Australia's first women to support herself from her writing and artwork. She lived at Nutcote for 44 years, view from the downstairs window.

A delightful day out, with a tinge of magic attached, and the satisfying feel of witnessing a life well lived and loved... time for the trip home.

Visit inside May Gibbs home online: May Click Here