This National Trust building, open for public inspection, was once the home of NSW barrister, explorer and statesman, William Charles Wentworth (1790-1872).
Vaucluse House was originally built by Sir Henry Brown Hayes, who was transported to NSW for kidnapping a rich Irish banker's daughter. Hayes was treated much better than most other convicts: after his arrival in the NSW in 1802, he was allowed to buy land in the area we now know as Vaucluse. After building his house, he lived out his term of transportation in luxury before returning to Ireland in 1812.
The house was purchased by Captain John Piper in 1822 and then purchased by William Charles Wentworth in 1827. Wentworth lived there till 1853 and made many changes to Vaucluse House.
The building as it is now is much as Wentworth left if. It is in the Gothic style with turrets and decorated with castellations. It comprises 15 rooms and is surrounded by gardens and lawns which slope down to the harbourside.
After NSW was granted responsible government in 1856, the first cabinet meeting was held in Vaucluse House. Much of Vaucluse House's surrounding estate has been progressively subdivided in the period from 1838 to 1915.
Another fine house owned and restored by the National Trust is Greycliffe House. Built by the harbourside, Greycliffe House is, like Vaucluse House, of Gothic design and features ornate gables.
Hopetoun Avenue, Vaucluse, is named after the Commonwealth of Australia's first Governor General (1901-03), Lord Hopetoun.
Vaucluse today is the home of the rich with many grand mansions with harbour views and beautiful gardens. It also includes the harbourside reserves of Nielsen Park and Parsley Bay Reserve which are both open to the public.
Nielsen Park is a large and pleasant harborside park with a swimming pool protected by nets.
Parsley Bay Reserve is a smaller harborside park which offers a peaceful retreat to locals. The Japanese Antarctic Expedition wintered here for several months from November 1911 (there is a plaque in the Reserve commemorating this.).