Brisbane’s spy house sells for almost $9 million in post-auction sale

This historic home at 21 Henry Street, Ascot has just sold at auction.

A deal struck after dark has secured the sale of Brisbane’s historic Nyrambla estate at Ascot, with the 136-year-old Victorian residence selling in a post-auction deal for between $8.6 million and $9 million.


More than 100 people came to see the grand home at 21 Henry Street, Ascot sell at auction on Saturday, with many treating the auction like a Brisbane Open House event.


The auction day crowd included five registered bidders. Picture: David Clark

The seven-bedroom, five-bathroom mansion on 2608 sqm with wraparound verandas and renovated servants quarters, played an important role in Brisbane’s history when it was turned into code-breaking headquarters for Allied forces during World War II.


What Nyrambla used to look like. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

It has been owned by the same family for 96 years and has been home to a who’s who of Brisbane’s social elite, from writer and director the late Bille Brown, to farmer’s market matriarch Jan Power and most recently, prolific Australian artist Lawrence Daws.

There are seven bedrooms in total and the house was once converted into flats.


The home commands one of the top spots in Ascot. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

Five registered bidders from around Australia took the property to auction through Dwight Ferguson of Ray White Ascot and Rachael Spinks of Spinks & Co Estate Agents, with bidding starting at $5 million and moving rapidly in leaps of $1 million to $7 million.


Ray White Ascot’s Dwight Ferguson, auctioneer Phil Parker, and Spinks & Co agent Rachael Spinks at the auction of 21 Henry Street, Ascot. Picture: David Clark

The pace then slowed with a bid of $7.5 million, then $8 million, and at $8.25 million, Ray White auctioneer Phil Parker put in a vendor bid of $8.5 million to let the bidders know more work needed to be done.

The crowd of more than 100 on the front lawn of Nyrambla then waited for the better part of half an hour while a local bidder on the phone with Ray White Ascot’s Damon Warat, negotiated an increased offer to $8.6 million which was not enough to secure the sale.


Ray White Ascot’s Damon Warat paced across the front lawn while on the phone with bidders who would eventually buy the iconic property after the crowds had gone home. Picture: David Clark

“I thought it would at least have gone for $10 million,” said one onlooker who lived in an 1800s Queenslander himself after having it relocated it to the western suburbs from Park Road in Milton more than 30 years ago.


One of several ballroom-sized living rooms. Picture: Mark Cranitch

“The biggest challenge with these places is finding a builder who will look after it properly.”

Ray White Ascot’s Dwight Ferguson said negotiations continued with the lead bidder after the auction and at 6pm on Saturday night an unconditional 30-day contract was signed.

The sale of the home was decided following the passing of owner, Brisbane socialite Andree Daws (formerly Whatmore) last year, and while Mrs Daws’ family know the new owners, they are still heartbroken to be cutting ties with the property.


Builder, Rick Roberts, has lived in Nyrambla with his mother, Andree Daws for 20 years, and has been restoring the home. His stepfather is Australian painter Lawrence Daws. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

Executers would not release the exact sale price at this stage, although it is believed to be less than $9 million.

“Although the property passed in at auction at $8.6 million, there was an increased offer that was successful on the day,” Mr Ferguson said.

Q Weekend Magazine 17/07/2014  Painter Lawrence Daws and Wife Andre. picture : Russell Shakespeare

Andree and Lawrence Daws in 2014. Picture: Russell Shakespeare

Australian artist Lawrence Daws, 94, whose work hangs on the walls of Nyrambla and also in prestigious art galleries across Australia and the world, had been living in the house until Christmas when he moved to Port Willunga south of Adelaide.

Lawrence Daws: Glass House Mountains. Mr Daws is represented by Philip Bacon Galleries in Brisbane.

He also has family in the Glass House Mountains should he wish to return to Queensland.

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