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a large brick building with green grass

Sitting majestically upon the headland of the lower north shore of Sydney is Innisfallen Castle, the landmark gothic-style mansion after which Castle Cove was named. The extensive grounds and sweeping harbour views make this one of  Sydney’s premier properties but also, one of its most secret.

This is the vast 8300-square-metre estate with the heritage-listed castle that was built at the turn of the last century by federal parliamentarian Henry Willis. Three generations of the Willis family called it home before the incredible maintenance and restoration costs forced them to sell it in 1988 for $5.25 million.

Innisfallen was originally a 20-hectare waterfront holding until 1966 when it was subdivided and 75 parcels of land sold off. The following year Willoughby Council bought three blocks of land next to the castle estate to preserve the castle’s heritage value. Even today, the land it occupies dwarfs the average Sydney block size of 474-square-metres

In the mid-1980s the historic mansion became the subject of an inquiry called for by then planning minister Bob Carr when the Willis family proposed to convert the castle into apartments and subdivide the block into 12 townhouses.

However, after thousands of objections were lodged, Carr stepped in to rule out the proposed subdivision, prompting a permanent conservation order on the property a few years later and the Willis family to sell it in 1988.