Tarella – an 1890’s Wentworth Falls weatherboard cottage.

Tarella has a long and interesting history. It was built in 1890 by John McLaughlin after he married and had four children with Ada Amanda Moore. They lived in Waverley, Sydney.

Tarella was their family holiday cottage, a Blue Mountains retreat, but after John’s death in 1918, the family’s large Waverley home was sold and Tarella became the residence for various family members.
John’s eldest son, John Harley, inherited Tarella. His mother, Ada, and his two sisters lived in the cottage for years but, sadly, Ada passed away in 1927 and his sisters moved out. John Harley then lived in the cottage until his sisters purchased it from him and returned to enjoy the later years of their lives together here. In all this time the cottage remained mainly unchanged.

Now as a museum, Tarella Cottage displays McLaughlin furniture, photographs, home wares and personal items spanning the lives of all family members, their careers and their experiences through decades of great change for all of them. There are also some items which belonged to Ada McLaughlin’s relatives, the family of George Moore who built and owned ‘Farnham’ at Randwick NSW.
Many other items within Tarella are significant pieces from the Blue Mountains Historical Society’s collection. These assist to make the cottage a living museum… we hope you feel as if you’ve just stepped in but have found that the McLaughlins have just stepped out for a minute.

Upon arrival and entry, visitors are always surprised that Tarella Cottage looks small but, when they enter it, they are surprised to see so many rooms and so many stories unfolding throughout.

You have downstairs and upstairs to explore! There is also a separate Old Kitchen at the rear of the cottage and on cold days you can enjoy the warmth of the original fireplace within.

The nearby research centre, ‘Hobby’s Reach’, holds additional significant items of the McLaughlin Estate and other collections which span a fascinating range of local area history.

The Tarella Cottage Sun Room Gallery and Exhibitions.

The back of Tarella Cottage and The Old Kitchen

The warm back room of Tarella Cottage was where Beryl and Ida McLaughlin spent much of their time in their later life. It is now a room used for small exhibitions most often relating to the history of the Blue Mountains. The exhibitions change a number of times during the year: please see the What’s On page for details of the current exhibition.


John McLaughlin (1850 – 1918)
Sydney solicitor with premises ‘John McLaughlin & Son’ at Union Bank Chambers, Hunter Street, Sydney. Member of the Legislative Assembly NSW. Honorary Treasurer of the Incorporated Law Institute of NSW. Being in the NSW Volunteer Force, he was entitled, by an Act passed by the NSW Parliament in 1868, to ‘a grant of 50 acres of land’ which he chose at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains of NSW. He built Tarella on the eastern end in 1890.

Mr John McLaughlin. Solicitor.
Mr. John McLaughlin. Solicitor.
Ada Amanda McLaughlin nee Moore

Ada Amanda McLaughlin (1860 – 1927)
The eldest daughter of successful merchant George Moore of ‘Farnham’ at Randwick, her childhood home still stands today. Her father’s brother, Charles Moore, was Lord Mayor of Sydney. He retired to Springwood NSW. Ada married John and had four children. All were raised at a large estate called ‘Yanko’ at Waverley. The family also enjoyed their holiday cottage ‘Tarella’ at Wentworth Falls. ‘Farnham’ was acquired by John and Ada some years after her father’s death.

The McLaughlin home ‘Yanko’ at Waverley NSW
Ada’s Uncle Charles built ‘MOORECOURT’ at Springwood NSW.

John Harley McLaughlin (1883 – 1953)

John Harley became a solicitor and joined his father at the Hunter Street practice. He was an Alderman of Waverley from 1908 to 1910. In various ways he acted unwisely. Upon the death of his father in 1918, John Harley was in control of the McLaughlin estate and the family experienced significant changes due to his actions. He promptly sold Farnham at Randwick, then Yanko at Waverley, which required Ada, Ida and Beryl to move to Tarella in the Blue Mountains.

John Harley McLaughlin. Solicitor and eldest son of John McLaughlin
Image from: State library of NSW, Research and Collections, Significant Collections, Subdivision Plans.

Ida Madeline McLaughlin (1884 – 1980)

Ida and her siblings were very close to their Aunt Madeline Major (nee Moore) and Aunt Florence Rossiter (nee Moore). Ida was educated at Claremont College, Randwick. She enjoyed painting and there is evidence that Aunt Madeline taught her. She also enjoyed gardening. As we have no evidence of her career, she may have primarily been her mother’s companion until marrying a wealthy grazier, Harold Lindrea Lane, in 1927. Harold and Ida lived in Leura in a house which Beryl McLaughlin designed for them. They enjoyed bridge, golf and international travel. In 1966, Ida and Beryl travelled overseas together, returning with many small mementos which we have in Tarella.

Studio portrait of young Ida McLaughlin

Major Geoffrey McLaughlin (1887 – 1917)

Geoffrey McLaughlin. Barrister.

After doing very well in his early education, Geoffrey became a barrister in 1913. He also served with the Australian Field Artillery at Victoria Barracks and, when WW1 occurred, was one of the first to volunteer. Captain McLaughlin departed in the First Expeditionary Force for Egypt aboard HMAT Argyllshire on 18th October 1914. During 3 years at war, he served tirelessly. He was Mentioned in Dispatches, awarded the Military Cross and, on the eve of his 30th birthday, was promoted to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel in command of the First Artillery Brigade. Sadly, Major McLaughlin did not return home. He died from injuries received during a bomb attack and is buried in Belgium at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Major Geoffrey McLaughlin. This photo is a postcard he sent home.

From 1914 to 1917, while serving abroad in WW1, Major McLaughlin posted dozens of letters home to his family and many contained photographs. These provide a unique description of his experiences and have been published in the book called ‘Dear Em’ which you will find on our Shop Page. ‘Dear Em’ was compiled and edited by Susan Warmbath, 2014.

Beryl Mary McLaughlin (1888 – 1988)
After education at Claremont College, Beryl obtained a science degree at Sydney University and became a school teacher. Due to tragic repercussions of WW1, she never married. Soon after the death of her father she returned to Sydney University and, in 1922, was one of the first 3 women to achieve an architectural degree there.

Beryl McLaughlin

Until 1933 (when the firm closed due to the Depression) Beryl was employed in Sydney by Henry White, a prominent New Zealand architect. From 1927, Beryl and her sister Ida lived in the Blue Mountains near Tarella, then later back at Tarella well into their old age. Together they were early members and generous patrons of the Blue Mountains Historical Society, providing Tarella as a meeting place and building a museum to house a growing collection of historic items. Beryl lived to be almost 100 years of age. She bequeathed her estate to the the Blue Mountains Historical Society.

More information about the McLaughlin Family and Tarella-

A photograph showing the very early years of Tarella

On this website’s Shop Page, or when you visit, you can purchase a small book which contains more detailed information about Tarella and the family: “The McLaughlins of Tarella 1890 – 1988” by Susan Warmbath.

Tarella Cottage Visitor Information:

Tarella is at 99 Blaxland Road Wentworth Falls NSW 2782.

Tarella is open to the public on the last Sunday of each month – except in December. Open hours are 10am to 3.30pm.
Tour groups are welcome and are invited to book week day tour events.

School visits may also be arranged.

Admission charges
Admission charges on Open Days are a small entry fee for each adult.
We also offer a light refreshment cafe on Open Days at low cost.
Note– Tour group charges are determined by the number of people attending and the additional services you wish to receive, such as morning tea.

School groups have relevant programs. Please contact us.

Facilities on Open Days
Toilets are near the cottage and within Hobby’s Reach.
A Cafe for light refreshments is in Hobby’s Reach. Hot water is available free for picnickers.
Disability parking is available on the grounds close to the cottage.
Street parking is available along Blaxland road.

Geoffrey McLaughlin 2017 memorial cairn in the grounds of Tarella.

The grounds: Visitors may use the grounds for picnic lunches if they wish to do so. There are lawn areas, garden views and garden chairs to enjoy. From the highest point, where we have a 2017 memorial cairn to Major Geoffrey McLaughlin, there are distant views across the western Sydney suburbs to the Sydney City skyline.

People with physical disability
This 1890s cottage has steps at each entry point. It does not have wide wheelchair access through internal room doorways. It is not possible for a wheelchair to be taken upstairs.

Hobby’s Reach does have wheelchair access and the toilet room within is wheelchair accessible.

Thank you.

We look forward to seeing you at Tarella Cottage Museum in the future.

Our Images

The images on this page are from our photograph collection and are owned by the Blue Mountains Historical Society. If you choose to borrow them for any reason please acknowledge Blue Mountains Historical Society. If you wish to have more information about images please contact us.

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