Tarella has many rooms plus a long middle hall, a side entrance foyer, and a landing at the top of a staircase. All areas display collections that make the cottage feel like an early 20th Century home.
The rooms are:
The McLaughlin main bedroom. The Parlor. The Dining Room. The Military Room. The (inside) Kitchen. The (inside) Laundry. The Bathroom. The Sewing Room. The Sun Room.
The boys bedroom and girls bedroom upstairs.
The Old Kitchen at the back of the cottage.
During 2020, the rooms within the cottage are being painted. The photographs on this page will be replaced after collections are re-installed in the restored rooms.
The Main Bedroom
This was the large bedroom of Mr. & Mrs. McLaughlin when they enjoyed the cottage together.
After the death of John, and the sale of Yanko in Waverley, Ada McLaughlin had her furniture and household items moved to Tarella. She lived in Tarella with her daughters, Ida and Beryl, until her death in 1927.
The content of this room includes: Ada’s dressing table and large wardrobe.
A bookcase containing McLaughlin books, mostly those awarded to the four McLaughlin Children as form prizes throughout their school years in Sydney. A tall display cabinet containing interesting items owned by the family including 2 shelves of ‘Art Nouveau’ style pottery made by Beryl McLaughlin in 1913 at Sydney Technical College. Beryl’s Science Degree is displayed alongside a collage of photographs of her.
This was the family room, it has a fireplace once well used during chilly & snowy Blue Mountains weather. The front window showcases the round garden in front of the cottage which bloomed with Ida’s roses and annuals.
The contents of this room include: A card table displaying McLaughlin items. A large sideboard from Yanko. A Brunswick gramophone and Beryl’s radio.
Beryl and her sister Ida lived in the cottage in their later years and this
little parlor became Ida’s bedroom. A sideboard drawer displays a small porcelain collection hand painted by Ida.
A long hallway runs through the middle of Tarella. It displays information about the McLaughlin 50 acre land grant and the later subdivisions of it. Many other stories unfold as you proceed down the hall and into the rooms.
The Dining Room
For 100 years, formal family meals, dinner with guests, and many celebrations such as Easter and Christmas, were held in this room.
These were times when the menu and wines would be planned, and,
certainly the times to use one’s very best china, crystal, silver, and linen.
A second McLaughlin sideboard and many tablewear items used by the McLaughlin family are displayed in this room.
The oval dining table and 6 chairs belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Ida Lane, coming to Tarella when Ida returned.
The large Bronze Dragon in this room belonged to John and Ada, it is from their home ‘Yanko’ at Waverley.
The Military Room
In this room you can learn about Major Geoffrey McLaughlin and see items that he owned, in fact, it is dedicated to his memory. Also, you can see other items from WW1 and WW2.
Captain Geoffrey McLaughlin, a Sydney Barrister, had already served 5 years with the Australian Field Artillery, at Victoria Barracks, when the 1st World War broke out. He was among the first to enlist.
With one of his best friends, Horace Frederick Kingsmill (often mentioned in the book ‘Dear Em’), he sailed for Egypt on October 18th, 1914, aboard HMAT ‘Argyllshire’. From the parapet of Yanko, at Waverley, his family watched the ship sail from the heads and down the coast.
On display is the tartan rug Geoff’s uncle gave to him and the metal trunk he sailed from Sydney with.
Geoffrey served in Gallipoli, spent time on Malta and time in London recovering from injury. He then went on to France and Belgium.
His field of operations was moving heavy artillery and shells to the Front.
He was Mentioned in Dispatches and was awarded the Military Cross in 1916. He took two horses with him, Jimmy and Tango, and tried to look after them through the war. There is a sketch of Jimmy in this room.
In November 1917, at 30 years of age, Major G. McLaughlin died from wounds caused by poison gas bombings at Paschendaele, Belgium. Major Kingsmill had been killed a few months earlier.
This room was once a small bedroom and the annex off the room was a walk-in wardrobe. A McLaughlin relative remembers sleeping in this room and being served tea, in bed, on a tray, by Beryl.
The Modern Kitchen
It was once common practice for the kitchen to be a separate building behind the house, so that an accidental kitchen fire did not catch the entire residence alight.
Tarella’s original cooking kitchen was at the back of the cottage, and remains there (see below), but eventually the family also established a kitchen within the cottage. This kitchen was last modernised in 1953, the main change being a stainless steel sink.
Here you will see an ice chest and an early fuel stove, plus many essential kitchen items of days gone by.
The adjoined tiny area to this kitchen was originally a walkway to a back laundry and toilet, and, in later years, a large water heater occupied much of this space. The walkway is now set up to look like an old laundry, it includes a hand pumped washing machine and a mangle to press water from linens prior to hanging them out to dry.
The original laundry & toilet rooms remain on the eastern side of the cottage.
This room was also modernised in the early 1950s. It has a pink tiled shower corner, pink ‘wet area fibrous asbestos cement sheet’ lining the walls, a toilet and a white, speckled Formica bathroom vanity with oval sink and 3 small drawers. The modernisation of the kitchen and bathroom probably occurred when Beryl and Ida purchased Tarella from their brother, John Harley McLaughlin, and moved back to the cottage from their nearby home in Yanko Avenue.
This room is not open to the public, it is presently used as a storage room.
The Sewing Room and Exhibition Room
This rear area of the cottage was once one big sitting room and also Beryl and Ida’s favorite place in the cottage. Afternoon sunlight steams through the 4 windows which look out upon the old kitchen garden and to the gate.
The Blue Mountains Historical Society was formed in 1946. This back room is of great significance to the Society because Ida and Beryl made it available for members meetings from June 4th 1955 through to 1968.
The wall now separating the rooms was put up in 1994 when the cottage was being stabilized and the sagging roof needed support.
Now, in the sewing room, collections on display include sewing machines, costume jewelry, ladies accessories, lace and hand made babies wear.
The Exhibition Room was recently re-named The Sun Room Gallery
Upstairs in Tarella Cottage
The cottage has a steep staircase leading to a landing between 2 small attic bedrooms used by the McLaughlin children. These have always been known as ‘The Boys Room’ and ‘The Girls Room’. Using 1893 as a point in time, the stairs may have been very busy, (and noisy), with the four McLaughlin children at the energetic ages of: Harley-10, Ida-9, Geoffrey-6, Beryl-5.
The boys room overlooks the front garden, has morning sunshine and north-eastern views across the mountains. This room displays a single narrow bed, a child’s commode, a dressing table and a chest of drawers. Many smaller items are displayed around the room.
The girls room has a built in wardrobe, a view over the old kitchen and catches the afternoon sunlight. This room displays historic school seats from Katoomba Public School and has a cabinet full of items which bring back childhood memories.
On the landing you will find a hip bath and other bath-time items.
Display of McLaughlin items in the Hobby’s Reach meeting room.
In 1968, Beryl and Ida designed, paid for and supervised the construction of the nearby building named ‘Hobbys Reach’. It was first used as the museum of the Society. Later is was extended with new wings containing greatly appreciated and well used Kitchen, Research Centre and Library.
The main meeting room holds a glass display cabinet of significant McLaughlin items.