Nutcote: May Gibbs’ Neutral Bay Home & Garden

May Gibbs, author of the much-loved, iconic story The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie lived at ‘Nutcote’ on Neutral Bay’s foreshore from when it was completed in 1925 for 44 years. With an innate talent for drawing, and bringing her characters to life, May’s entire life was devoted to her art. We visited Nutcote on the weekend. What a precious little pocket of Australia’s cultural history.

Nutcote, a Mediterranean/Neo Georgian style cottage was designed for May and her husband James Ossili Kelly by architect BJ Waterhouse. Her brief was for it to have ‘compactness, convenience and charm’. Inside its influence is Early English/Baronial, with beautiful arched windows and all door trims, and floors, made from Western Australian jarra.

May loved her Scottish Terriers and when we visited about twenty, plus a handful of Westies, (and all their owners!) were socialising in the garden. It was 138 years after May’s birthday.

The gardens at Nutcote have been brought back and are a delightful place for visitors to relax, picnic, or enjoy tea and scones from the tea house. Nothing could be further away from all the woes of the world…

Luckily Nutcote was saved from demolition by developers and is now owned, and cared for, by North Sydney Council. The property also benefits from donations and entry fees from the public. It’s a great asset – and a must-visit when you’re next in Sydney. From Nutcote’s website:

The importance of the Gardens to May’s work is indicated in an interview for the National Library in 1968 when she reflected, “Nutcote’ is a dear little place with a long, long garden. I used to walk around the Gardens, weeding it and loving it, and with a book in my pocket and a pencil and that’s where I got my best ideas, out in the open, gardening.” 


8 replies »

  1. Your lovely photos really portray the sense of being ‘far away from all the woes of the world’. It is a very good reminder for me to get there too. What is it, a twenty minute (?) walk for me and I have never been. Shame on me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janna, yes it is peaceful – apart from the little garden sculpture of a big bad banksia man dangling a little gumnut by the leg! It brought back memories of reading her books and being very anxious about imaginary banksia men. Now of course I absolutely love banksias in every stage of their development.

      Your own garden is very peaceful too – it’ll be good to share with readers soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kim, beautiful pictures and a delightful place. Must visit when we are next down that way. As a child I just couldn’t get enough of the stories, and just loved all the little gum nut babies.
    Great work you are doing bringing us the stories and pictures of all these delightful gardens.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Autumn and Winter are great times to visit May Gibbs’ NUTCOTE at Neutral Bay. The house is cosily heated when chill winds blow and the lively spirit of Australia’s only female professional comic strip artist and author is evoked through guided tours and enjoyment of her paintings and illustrations.

    Home made soups, sandwiches, scones and good coffee as well as a range of teas are available in the attractively decorated cafe.

    Thanks Kim for the beautiful momento of May’s birthday on 17 January. She would have been 138!

    Robyn Kremer Volunteer Guide


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