Rose Cottage

At Rose Cottage you can enjoy authentic pub food and drinks, function spaces and live entertainment amongst the historic venue est. 1870.

The Beginning

The land on which the current Rose Cottage estate is situated was originally part of Andre Cunningham’s ‘Tuggeranong Station’, which was spelt Tuggranong earlier. The land on which Rose Cottage is situated formed the northeastern boundary of Hya Macquoid’s Waniassa until it was sold to Andrew Cunningham after Macquoid’s death in 1857.

Between 1875 and 1877, Richard James Harris (1830 – 1904) purchased Tuggeranong land from Cunningham. In 1878 Harris’s new 2,000-acre (809.37 ha) property became known as the Sweet Hills Estate. It is thought that Margaret Harris planted Kurrajong trees on the southeastern boundary (facing the former Monaro Highway, part of the old road is visible).

Harris, a cabinet-maker from England, built the cottages. The older, smaller of the two cottages, now the Café, may date from late 1860’s to early 1870’s. The second

cottage, now called “Mary’s Bar”, dates from about 1878. The method construction of the huts was called ‘pise de terre’ or ‘rammed earth’. According to the historian (the late) Lyall Gillespie, Eusebio Ponsey, a South American, introduced this form of construction to the Tuggeranong region in the late 1860’s.

The two simple early vernacular cottages are build in subtly different ways. The earlier rear Pise cottage has a kitchen fireplace, (now rebuilt), Gabled iron roof over shingles, narrow eaves and a loft. The later cottage has timber-framed mud-packed walls, with a hipped iron roof. It has an encircling verandah and a massive fireplace. The cottages are significant for the way they ‘demonstrate one aspect of prioneer life in the Territory and as evidence of traditional construction techniques.’ (The Heritage of the Australian Capital Territory, 1992, p.52)


When Richard Harris subsequently managed Tidbinbilla Station for Andrew Cunningham, John Thomas Edlington and his family occupied Rose Cottage for a short period around 1911. Harris’s son, Richard (Junior) returned to Rose Cottage around 1913 and ran sheep and cattle. In 1927, the land was acquired by the Commonwealth (Gazetted 5/5/27) and leased back to Richard (Junior), where he and his family remained until 1945.



Although Rose Cottage had lessees after 1945, the buildings were left untenanted and began to deteriorate. That was until 1983 when formal restoration began.




Murray’s Coach Service began using the cottage as a stopover from about 1966. During their usage of the cottages, Murray added some facilities and carried out some basic repairs.

In 1975, the cottages came under threat of destruction to make way for the construction of Isabella Drive. After much lobbying by interested parties the buildings were preserved and the road was re-routed around the property.

The site was classified by the National Trust of Australia in 1980 and listed on the Register of the National Estate in June 1981. In 1994 Helen Fullgrabe and family purchased the property and instigated many improvements: repairs to Mary’s bar, paving and glassing-in of the function room, paving and roofing of the area between the cottages to create an atrium and several buildings added to the property.

The Glasswell family took over the property in 2000 and sold it to the Piagno family in 2006 who have further upgraded Mary’s bar, installed a commercial kitchen, and rejuvenated the beautiful gardens.



The Rose Cottage Estate, comprising of only nine of the original 2,000 acres until recently provided premises for several small businesses. Today, one of those businesses continues as the Old Rose Inn. The original two cottages are occupied by a café, and Mary’s bar. The additional glass room is used for functions and events and has a huge indoor open fireplace – wonderful for those winter nights. And the beautiful grassed and landscaped surrounds make a perfect beer garden, or outdoor function areas.

The gardens have been lovingly restored and are an historic feature of the Rose Cottage Estate. Three of the Kurrajong trees that Margaret Harris is thought to have planted remain in the grounds as well as many heritage rose varieties.

Reach out to us

Contact us if you need any advice or inquiries, or to request a quote.


1 Isabella Dr, Gilmore ACT 2905

02 6260 1314


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