Real Estate

28 collins ave edge hill first built by macdonells law firmaes henry macdonnell

Written by The ReReport

THE oldest home in Edge Hill just might be the city’s most hidden as well.
RE/MAX Real Estate agent Joan Robb has been selling in the exclusive inner-city suburb for more than 25 years and said she had never come across a property quite like 28 Collins Ave.

Children around the pool at 28 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

The driveway is hard to find, sitting just past the entrance to the Red Arrow Walking Track, and takes you up a steep incline to a building nestled perfectly in the rainforest at the top of Mt Whitfield.

A dining room with a view

The four-bedroom, four-bathroom property has been listed for sale this week and comes with an intriguing link to Cairns’ urban and business history.
In 1903, one of the founding partners of Macdonells Law firm, Henry MacDonnell, purchased almost five hectares in Edge Hill from the Lands Department and became the first titleholder.


Construction was completed on Poinciana Lodge (originally known as Arcadia) in 1904.
“The Macdonells were active members of Cairns society and often hosted large social events at the estate,” Ms Robb said.

Look out over Trinity Inlet

“Henry was a lifetime member of the Cairns and District Masonic Club, Cairns Aquatic Club and Cairns Chamber of Commerce, as well as a founding member of the Cairns Rotary
Club and trustee of the Cairns School of Arts Library.
“Henry, his wife Stella and their family lived at the property from 1904, until his death in 1977.”

28 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

According to an informative plaque at the property, following the outbreak of World War One in 1914, Mr Macdonnell was annoyed when he was told he was too old to be accepted for active service.
To demonstrate his fitness, Henry decided to build a swimming pool and commenced excavating the site by hand.

The pool first dug by Henry Macdonnell

The hilltop pool became the first private swimming pool in Cairns.
With its views north to Trinity Beach and east across the Coral Sea, during World War Two, Poinciana Lodge was requisitioned by the army as a crucial communications and observation post to defend against the Japanese offensive.
Between 1942 and 1944, the property played a pivotal role for the army.
Members of the 411th Battalion established lookout locations and machine gun posts on the foothills of Mt Whitfield and Mt Lumley.

The spacious hilltop home

“The current owners were amazed to find Poinciana Lodge and bought it they day they saw it,” Ms Robb said.
“Now with their children grown they have moved onto other projects down south and made the difficult decision to put the property on the market.
The seller said her hope was to find someone who would continue the estate’s amazing story. 

The pool at 28 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

“I was just so relieved when I found it. I couldn’t believe I had found a home for my family that had all the benefits of the forest, but allowed my kids to attend the best schools. I’m sad to sell it, but I’m excited for the next family to experience the lifestyle here. It is unlike anything else,” the owner, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Inspect it Saturday from 1-1.45pm.

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