Australia · old house · Tweed Valley

A Family Homestead ~ “Lisnagar”

" Lisnagar"

Remember me in the family tree, my name, my days, my strife; then I’ll ride upon the wings of time And live an endless life.” ~ Linda Goetsch.

Continuing with my recent theme of visiting old houses that hold some significance to me, I felt compelled to include a historic family homestead, situated just outside of Murwillumbah on the far northern New South Wales coast. This home is named “Lisnagar”.

To this day I can still remember the first time I spotted “Lisnagar” whilst driving past the home in the back seat of my parent’s station wagon. We had only just moved to Murwillumbah, having relocated from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. I was thirteen years old and this beautiful old home immediately conjured up images in my young, impressionable minds-eye of women wearing lovely long white dresses, and bonnets with big ribbon ties under their chins.

Hiding among the greenery

My interest with “Lisnagar” was resurrected at the age of nineteen, when I met the man who was to become my husband. This beautiful old home had been built by his great-grandfather, Edward Twohill.

“Lisnagar” was built in the early 1900’s by Edward and his wife Ellen and is presently owned by Terry Twohill, a grandson of Edward and Ellen’s.

Upstairs, downstairs

The home has remained in the Twohill family throughout all the years of its existence, with two of Ellen and Edwards unmarried children, Emma and Kevin, being the last two occupants.

Looking upstairs

The eldest child of Edward and Ellen was Esther, my husband’s grandmother. Esther lived to the ripe old age of ninety years. (Esther’s eldest son just celebrated his 99th birthday!) Esther passed away in 1983 and during the six years that I knew her, barely a weekend went by that we didn’t spend some time with Gran and her best friend, a tiny female chihuahua named “Kelly”.

The Twohill family are an eccentric clan, to say the least! Dear old Gran, bless her soul, was certainly not the stereotypical warm and fuzzy grandmother! She remained opinionated and fiery by nature, right through to the day she died.

“Lisnagar” is an extremely beautiful homestead, with wrought iron lace work adorning all the verandas, as was the style of architecture during the Victorian era. I had the opportunity of photographing the detailed lace work close up recently when visiting the home with my husband and daughters during a family reunion.

An abundance of lace work

When I decided to add my photos of “Lisnagar” here today, I searched Google to see if I could find any links to websites to share, only to find some rather wishy-washy links available. So what I will offer is my story, my photos and my memories of the fiery daughter of Edward and Ellen, whom I was fortunate enough to know.

Gran spoke very fondly of her old family home. She had married in 1912, the same year the Titanic sank, the reception of the wedding being held at “Lisnagar”.

Detailed sketch by Gran

Gran and her female siblings were very artistic, with the walls within “Lisnagar” holding a number of old drawings and paintings done by the girls. Gran had been a very talented artist in her younger day, although her artistic ambitions had ended with the birth of the first of her twelve children.

One of Gran's paintings

The grounds of “Lisnagar” are another story within themselves, which I will continue with tomorrow….

The downstairs veranda



53 thoughts on “A Family Homestead ~ “Lisnagar”

  1. Hi Joanne We very much enjoyed your story about the grand old house and your GRAN. We did have the great pleasure of visiting the house about ten odd years ago . We were living on the Tweed at the time . We have been looking at our family tree and cannot come up with the Twohill name. So maybe just a coinsidence.
    Paul & Sue Neylan


    1. Hello Paul and Sue! I wonder did you know that the name Neylan was associated with Lisnagar when you visited the house. I’m sure there is a family connection somewhere, as it is not a very common name at all. It would be interesting to delve deeper into the family tree!

      I’m looking into adding a contact form to this site, so I do hope you read this reply and perhaps we could work out if there is a connection. 🙂


  2. Hi i am writting to let u know my husband is a descendant of Lisnagar his grandmother was a Twohill(i asked my husband what her name is and he can only remember her as nan i will have to ask his mum typical male ha ha) and married a loughman and i think she was a great neice .And also if you watch the sisters of war (based on a true story about world war 2 in paupa new guinea)there is a nun called Sr. M. Berenice Twohill she is related also i think she maybe still alive but very frail.I dont think any one live at Lisnagar now but Terry lives close by i think it is national heritage now.


    1. Hello Teresa, it’s lovely to meet you. 🙂

      I love that… Nan Loughman! Yes, typical male! 😀

      The story you mentioned with Sr. Berenice rings a bell, but I can’t remember details. My mother-in-law will be visiting tomorrow for Mother’s Day, so I will show her your comment and see if she can add any details. She is the grand-daughter of Edward Twohill, and first cousin to Terry Twohill. As far as I know, Terry is living at Lisnagar now.

      I’ll add more to this comment after I speak to my mother-in-law. 🙂


      1. Teresa, I spoke to my in-laws today, who know Sr. Berenice and have a copy of the movie you mentioned, which they will lend to me to watch. Sister Berenices father, Alex Twohill, and my mother-in-law’s mother, Esther Twohill, were first cousins.

        Sr. Berenice is now in her mid 90’s and is living in Sydney.

        Both of my in-laws recognised your sir name immediately! Did your husbands grandmother have a brother, John Twohill, who married Marie Murnane?

        It’s interesting to hear from the extended family of Edward Twohill. There are still quite a few about! 🙂


        1. I am so excited to see and read all of this. I remember Mum (Hanorah Ratcliff nee Twohill) telling us we were related to the Twohills in this house. Mum was the youngest of Leo and Mary Amy Twohill. John who married Marie Murnane was Mum’s brother. Their older Brother was Leo and sisters Mary Loughman, Katherine (Kit) Knight, Anne Burns, Agnes Curtis, Patricia Chapman. Most had large families as was the norm in those days


          1. Hi Veronica! It was only at Christmas time that I asked my mother-in-law if she had seen Marie Murnane recently (meaning another Marie Murnane!) and my inlaws both started telling me a whole story about Marie being a Twohill! Amid the confusion, we worked out that there are two ladies in Murwillumbah with the same name, however they told me that your Marie is getting on in years now but she still goes to the church whenever she’s needed, to decorate it with flowers. I thought that was a lovely story.

            You are so right, they all had very big families, and so many of the names have been repeated too (especially Leo and Mary!) so it can become confusing at times, working out who is who. 🙂


        2. hi again after all this time lol i think my husbands grandmothers name was Miriam Twohill Im writing this as my husband at Lisnagar and was really shocked about the state it is in now Very over grown rubbish coming out the back door and a smell of urine i was able to go inside as Terry was there but my husbands father John loughman wouldnt go in as it made him sad and he wanted to remember it how it was as he spent many days there as a kid I was told it was heritage listed but im not sure but i do know if it keep going as it is now it will be gone its so sad Terry has a bloke by the name of Michael living there also All the rooms are full of rubbish things are broken also i wish i lived closer so i could help to clean it up this is my email address could u please let me know what is happening with it plz cheers Teresa Loughman


    2. Hello Teresa,
      I was just wondering if you are Teresa Valda Loughman who was born or grew up in Corowa NSW. I am just trying to piece together some Family History.
      With many thanks Lisa


      1. no sorry i am not but there was a Teresa Loughman at Shark Creek Have a look at this : Shark Creek Pioneers Unveiling – Monument Australia

        evidences that the Smalls, who settled in. Tynd’ale, /had been about the upper reaches of the stream,, but no at tempt. was made at settlement till. 1864. ,. ‘ ‘ W. IPerkins selected in 1864, -M. Mc. Donnell. 1865, O. Maloney, T. Loughman,. B.- Connolly, J. Connolly, J. Loughman,. E. Bloom ery 1868; J. O ‘Mara, J. Mitchell,-.


  3. HI, that was a great story just love it,
    im 13 years old and i just loved going there with my grandmother sheila Howard (nee Twohill) she has passed away now but i am obssed with this place she took my father and my aunts here when they were kids


    1. Hello Jackie! I’m so pleased you enjoyed my story. Isn’t Lisnagar fantastic? There is so much local history attached to the house, and this is made all the more special when you are a descendent of Edward Twohill. You know Jackie, I met your grandmother, Sheila. She is my mother-in-laws cousin! Perhaps we will meet one day also. 🙂


  4. I too am related to the Twohills. My great(?) grandfather Neylan married Esther Sherlock, I remember as a child visiting Lisagnar for weekends with my parents Jim & Pearl Neylan. I did meet Ester once when we visited Emma & Co.. I remember her as having the whitest hair which she wore that occasipn in a single plait (Remember I was probably under 10 at the time!).Kevin, Mary & Emma were living there at the time. Emma & Kevin sometimes came to visit us in Brisbane.


    1. Hello Noelene! You remember Esther well, she did have very long white hair, I used to admire it often! I’m so pleased you had the opportunity to meet Mary, Emma and Kevin as well. They were a very eccentric family, and simply wonderful people; it’s sad to think they are all gone now. In some ways though they still live on in their descendants. 🙂


  5. Thank you for the beautiful story of Lisnagar. I have known of this home since 1965…. I now live a 3 minute drive from it! I pass it regularly and appreciate it’s beauty each time.
    Much appreciated.


    1. It’s such a gorgeous home, isn’t it Fran, and one which I’m sure many people have admired over the years. I’m pleased you found my story and thank you for leaving the lovely comment too. 🙂


      1. Dear Joanne
        I’ve loved Lisnagar since I first saw it as a teenager in 1975. Now I live at Blue Knob, half an hour from the homestead, but alas have never managed to visit. Terry used to give guided tours a few years ago and I wonder if he still does. Because I would dearly love to finally see inside that beautiful house (and hear Terry’s stories). I’ve never forgotten it – it calls to me.


  6. Hi Joanne, I have loved Lisnagar ever since I was given a card with a sketch of the house on the front when I was 13, I’m now 43. I live on the South Coast of NSW and it has always been a dream of mine to visit the house which I did earlier this month. I was shocked by the appearance as it looked very run down and unkept with part of the wrought iron missing from the top balcony and the grounds very overgrown. Is someone living there now? Will the house be restored? After dreaming about seeing this beautiful house for the past 30 years I was extremely disappointed in what I saw.


    1. Hello Alison, thank you for leaving a message about your love of Lisnagar. The owner of the house (my mother-in-law’s cousin) had an operation in August last year, nothing serious, but I know he has had difficulty walking. I will see if I can find out anything more for you. It must have been so upsetting for you to see this grand old home in such a state, after so many years of dreaming to see it, and I felt extremely sad that you had felt so disappointed. I will pass on any further news I get.


  7. Hi Joanne,
    I am writing about Murwillumbah and read on a website that this lovely house is available for tours on Sundays. Is this still the case? I don’t want to recommend the tour if they are no longer happening. Websites can be terribly out of date. Do you know who I can contact to find out?
    Thank you,


    1. Hi Trina, yes, Lisnagar is a very grand and beautiful old home, but unfortunately, the current owner isn’t conducting the guided tours just now. He has had a couple of operations, nothing too serious, but he has had to cut back on opening the house.

      I would be interested to read what you are writing about Murwillumbah though. Will it be available to read online? Please leave a link here, if that’s possible.


  8. Hi I live at Tweed Heads and I was at “Lisnaga’r today 13th Sep 2015, I cant believe how much it has gone down hill from when I fist saw it 8 years ago, why is it that no one is fixing it up to keep as a wonderful homestead for people to visit, its a shame that it is being let go like it is……


    1. Hello Jan. Unfortunately, the owner of Lisnagar has suffered ill health during the past two or three years and has not been able to look after the house in the way he had previously. I’m sure it will be taken care of again, when he can manage it. I agree, it is indeed a beautiful old homestead.


  9. Hello Joanne, have been very interested in reading your stories of “Lisnagar”. My maiden name was Twohill. My father was a brother of Sr. Berenice who will be ninety-nine in November! All the names you mention are familiar to me. I remember your husband’s grandmother very well and that beautiful white hair! I knew a June Kelly, would she be a sister of your husband? My father was Vince Twohill from Tumbulgum and he was always very close to his cousins. I remember him telling us stories about visiting the old homestead on Sunday mornings after Mass. His parents were Alexander and Eliza and he had seven brothers and three sisters. Sister Berenice (Dympna) is the only surviving member of the family.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Teresa! I knew a few of the Loughman family, Cheryl, Maree, Colleen, Kevin. I went to school with the girls and Kevin’s wife Rita! I know Kevin still lives in the Tweed area.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Elizabeth,

      My husband is an only child, but we do know June Kelly – she is my husband’s cousin. I’ve heard that the two branches of the family (the cousins from Tumbulgum and the Lisnagar Twohills’) were close.

      Thank you for dropping by. ~~ Joanne. 🙂


      1. Just letting everyone know – the last of the original Tumbulgum Twohill’s, Sister Berenice (Dympna) passed away peacefully on Friday night, Nov. 3rd. She would have turned one hundred and one on Thursday Nov. 9! Her funeral is in Sydney on this Wednesday at 10.00am at Catholic Church, Kensington.


        1. Hello Elizabeth. How very sad, the end of an era.
          Sister Berenice lived a good long life and it’s comforting to know she passed away peacefully.
          Thank you so much for letting us know. Joanne. xx


  10. Hello Joanne,
    I too am a relation to Ellen Neylan who married Edward Toohill… A cousin of Noelene Hausler (née Neylan).. My brother and his wife have now been living in Uki for several years.. On one of our visits he took us to see Lisnagar and we ran into Terry Toohill.. I certainly hope his health is improving.. My cousins and our family have often talked about Lisnagar and shared memories handed down from our mothers (also née Neylan) who have now passed. Some remember staying at the homestead and we remember being present at a family reunion at the Showgrounds many years ago when our mums were still alive… Would love to see the beautiful homestead being restored.
    Hope Terry can enjoy a full recovery,
    Helen Scully.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Helen,

      I remember hearing about the family reunion at the Showground. My husband and I lived in Sydney at the time and couldn’t be there for it, but my mother-in-law (Edward and Ellen’s grand-daughter) was there. You must be a cousin to her.

      Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. ~~ Joanne.


  11. You need to talk to my father about Marie and Berenice. He can tell u everything u need to know. And there are 3 arms of the Twohill Family. Hi Elizabeth u are part of the Tumbulgum Twohill’s not the Lisnagar Twohill, sorry to tell u that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Kylie,

      From what I have been told, Edward and his brother both settled in the Tweed area and the Tumbulgum Twohills’ are descendants of Edward’s brother, so still distantly connected to the Lisnagar Twohill family. I’m amazed and delighted by how many Twohill descendants have found my story and left a comment here. 🙂


  12. I have lived in Murwillumbah all my life now 40 yrs old and as a child I grew up just up the road from this majestic homestead. It was a familiar sight each and every day as I road to school on the bus and as such My husband and I had out wedding ceremony on the bottom verandah/garden of the house. I am also a local photographer and have done a beautiful creative portrait session there. Thanks so much for sharing your story 🙂
    Regards Katrina 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi, With the help of Terry Toohill, there is a replica of Lisnagar in Brisbane. It is called Grove Manor and in Ashgrove. Currently running as a B&B. Worth a look.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Trevor. Thanks for letting me know about Grove Manor. I found a link – – and indeed, the outside of the house is very similar to Lisnagar. I noticed they have made some changes inside the house, for example, the staircase is positioned differently, but they have certainly done a beautiful job of modernising the home, whilst staying true to its original features.


  14. Hi Joanne

    I somehow thought of Lisnagar today and decided to see if Terry was well enough to start doing tours again. Whilst researching I found a photo on Flixr which stated the following

    Lisnagar, a Victorian era homestead near Murwillumbah
    Unfortunately the man who was restoring (a direct descendent of the family that built it) it died in January this year when a section of the first-floor veranda fell away and he fell down to the ground.

    The date was 22nd June 2015

    I’m just hoping and praying this isn’t the case and that Terry is doing really well after some health issues?

    Wonderful post on such a marvellous old home♥


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, it wasn’t Terry!
      There was an incident at Lisnagar, over a year ago, but as far as I know the man who fell was not a family member. I heard the man had a ‘medical episode’ but that hasn’t been confirmed.
      I haven’t heard any recent news regarding Terry’s health although he is getting on in years now.
      Thank you for dropping by. 🙂


      1. Hi Joanne, such a relief to hear it wasn’t Terry, thank you so much for letting me know. Strange how the years creep up:( Enjoy the rest of your week:) Linda

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Loved your story Joanne and your memories. There’s a conversation on facebook (Murwillumbah Matters) at the moment about Lisnagar and people who would be willing to help if it was too much for Terry to do. It would be a tragedy to see this beautiful homestead fall beyond repair – it is in a bad state now but maybe the community can do something to restore it. Many hands make light work and Murwillumbah is an awesome and generous community.


    1. Hi Sandra,
      I’m so pleased you have enjoyed my stories of Lisnagar so far. It is indeed a beautiful homestead and has been admired greatly for over 100 years now.
      After reading your message I joined the Facebook group you mentioned, mainly to explain to people the situation of Terry Twohill, the owner of Lisnagar. Terry, my mother-in-law’s cousin, is turning 85 this year and his health has been declining in recent years. Family members, ourselves included, have been offering to help Terry with the maintenance on Lisnagar for several years, but being the proud man that he is, unfortunately he is refusing to accept any offers of help.
      It’s very sad to see the old homestead declining, but at this point in time we must respect Terry’s wishes. My husband called in to see Terry in January and felt extremely upset to see the declining health of his cousin. Again, my husband offered his help, which is all we can do just now.
      I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you. We would love to see Lisnagar returned to its glory, however we have done all we can at this stage. Hopefully I can give you better news in the near future.
      Thank you for visiting, and caring. x


      1. Thanks for your reply Joanne. That does explain why the house looks the way it does. It is difficult when someone is too proud to accept help that is offered so genuinely as your family obviously has. It’s clearly a family matter and I hope you didn’t mind everyone being so curious on facebook but the house is much loved and of course everyone would be thinking of Terry if his health is not good. Thank you again for responding. xx

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s absolutely wonderful to see so much concern shown for the old Twohill homestead, Sandra. I saw and loved the house myself, many years before I’d even met my husband! But I’ve spent a lot of years now with the Twohill descendants and know how stubborn they can be, unfortunately. It’s lovely to know that people care though. x

          Liked by 1 person

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