THE transfer of Anzac Cottage from Vincent council to the National Trust was approved this week, despite a smidgen of concern it could end up a holiday house one day.
The council will save about $7,000 a year in maintenance costs on the 38 Kalgoorlie Street property which was built in one day in 1916 for wounded Gallipoli vet Cuthbert John Porter.
The transfer is supported by Vietnam Veterans Association WA which holds its meetings there, and volunteer group Friends of Anzac Cottage who hold open days.
The National Trust’s deputy CEO Enzo Sirna told the council they’d ensure both groups had continued access and the Friends could continue holding open days on significant dates. The cottage would also be open on additional dates, but at standard National Trust entry prices ($10 for adults).
While the Trust’s short-term plan is to have it as a “house museum” and memorial, a council report notes “in the longer term, consistent with international trends, it is possible that the National Trust may consider short stay accommodation in conjunction with the house museum/memorial role as a means of gaining revenue for its maintenance”.
One person who responded to consultation on the transfer said they had experience living near Curtin House in Cottesloe, which the National Trust has turned into short term accommodation. The submitter said that property now has very little to identify its historical significance as a house of prime minister John Curtin, and when they had complaints about guests causing a ruckus the Trust didn’t step in as they’d outsourced the accommodation bookings.
Most of the other public submissions were in favour of the transfer. Private Porter’s daughter Marjorie Williams was born in the front bedroom of the cottage in 1921. Now 99 years old, her family assisted her to put in a supportive submission:
“Whilst the family acknowledges the assistance and support that has been given to the cottage by the City of Vincent, it is appreciated that the city, like all local government bodies has a huge agenda of issues and responsibilities with which to deal. Because of this and because the National Trust focus is purely centred on heritage, we feel that the transference of ownership will be beneficial to the cottage and to the city as well, relieving the city of maintenance costs and the responsibility of caring for a building that is over a century old and was built in one day.”
By DAVID BELL