Our History

The school hall that stands today at Eleven Eighty operated as the first school in the Shoalhaven Heads/Coolangatta region from 1883 – 1959, when a new school was built in Shoalhaven Heads. The school hall and the teacher’s residence were listed for heritage in 1985.

The Early Years

Establishment of Coolangatta School

While the school hall at Eleven Eighty was built in 1883, the history of this property as a school dates back to 1861 with the establishment of Coolangatta School. It was later to be renamed Shoalhaven Heads School before its final closure in 1959.

The school was originally established in 1861 by a group of parents, who were workers on the Coolangatta Estate, to provide education for their children. David Berry leased a building to to the parents who engaged the services of a Mr Samuel Watson as teacher. By todays standards Mr Watson did not have great credentials for this position. Besides being more literate than the parents who engaged him, he had no teaching experience or training in this field.

The policy in 1861 was for the government to pay a small salary to teachers in public schools which would be supplemented by modest school fees paid for by the parents. The idea was for schools to prove themselves before the government committed to putting money into them. Many other small schools opened at a similar time but were not successful enough to remain open. Coolangatta proved itself and was acknowledged as a government school on the 19th November 1861. By the end of that year the school had enrolments of 32 children with an average attendance of 25. In July 1982 the inspector of schools made his first inspection. He found little to be impressed with and criticised the standard of teaching and the state of the buildings. His only positive comment was that the children were clean!

A changing region

Enrolments and challenges

Over the years, attendance was a problem at the school, and remember part of the teacher’s salary depended on the number of children turning up each day. Whether it was weather conditions that prevented the children getting to school, or the expectation that the children needed to help with work at the Coolangatta Estate, attendance continued to be a major issue. We have in our possession the enrolment and attendance figures over the years. You can see the impact of major historical events such as the 1916 flu epidemic. In 1895 there had been over 70 pupils on the roll but by 1917 this had dropped to a mere 25. Another contributing factor was that at this time most of the children of the Coolangatta Estate workers had grown up and there was a decline in new families making the estate their home.

Conversely by the 1930’s the population of Shoalhaven Heads was on the rise as families from Sydney moved to this area because of the plentiful fishing allowing for a cheaper way of living through the depression years. By the 1930’s most of the pupils enrolled at the Coolangatta School lived in Shoalhaven Heads. They had to walk 5 miles across swampy ground to get there. The children were expected to attend with clean shoes. With most only owning one pair of shoes, they had to make this daily trek in bare feet with their shoes tied around their neck by the shoelaces.

Past meets present

The school buildings

Originally the school operated out of a “temporary building” described in 1862 by the school inspector as “an old cabbage tree building, out of repair, badly supplied with furniture and apparatus”. He stated that new buildings would soon be erected. It took nearly 20 years for this last statement to become true.

In late 1867 or early 1868, the teacher’s residence was erected and the stone foundations for the new schoolhouse laid. However, the new school building (the Old School Hall which stands today at Eleven Eighty) was not erected till 1883 when Sir John Hay, a cousin of Berry’s, took up residence as a manager of the Berry Estate. “It was a weatherboard structure on a stone foundation with a large school room 37 by 18 feet and a smaller room 18 by 12, which was sometimes used as a withdrawal room when visiting clergy came to give religious education to their flock. There was also a small porch area which was used for hats and bags”. (Unfortunately, the porch area is not standing today).

As the children attending school now came from Shoalhaven Heads, the school was renamed Shoalhaven Heads school in 1958. The distance children had to travel became a problem as the school began to grow and in 1959 a new school was built in Shoalhaven Heads and this chapter in Eleven Eighty’s history came to an end.

We have been lucky enough to retain many original items from the property’s time as a school. If this historical importance of the property interests you, you will find much to peruse on site including photos, original sports day flags and school memorabilia and of course the Old School Hall and Teachers residence. One of the many things that our guests love about the property is the character and stories that go with it.

Social Media

A picture tells a thousand words

Testimonials

We just had the most magical wedding here – 10/10 venue!!! We cannot speak more highly of our experience! Amazing hosts and team, with exceptional attention to detail. There are so many incredible places for photos (but also the photos don’t do it justice!) and the whole ambience really contributed to our wedding. It was amazing being able to stay at the property for the weekend. We absolutely loved it and could not recommend it more!

Jess D

The unique venue catered for our family requirements and beyond with many personalised details. Every part of the venue was utilised from the train carriage, the on-site accomodation, through to the beautifully decorated bar and iconic tree swing.

Our wedding getaway consisted of 3 days and 2 nights surrounded with loved ones onsite. We enjoyed great company, good food, fun lawn games, and created many wonderful memories. The venue was perfect for our needs. It was kid and dog friendly, spacious, clean, offered many entertainment spaces, and felt like a home away from our home.

We cannot thank Reanah enough for her support and recommendations. We are so grateful to have engaged such talented vendors who went out of their way to make our day special, thank you so much!

Stacey and I highly recommend Eleven Eighty.

Paulina Acuna

I am in love with Eleven Eighty! Such a great DIY venue with accommodation, a well thought-out layout with different spaces hosting such an eclectic vibe to truly bring out your personality. The Owners & staff are so incredible to work alongside and we love planning & coordinating there. The courtyard is to die for!

Jess – Planned By Page

What a stunning venue, the way the light filters through the surrounding trees into the courtyard in the afternoon is just something else. They have thought of everything here you will need to make your wedding day perfect. Beautiful spaces to get ready in, the most divine settings for your reception and stunning photo opportunities, Eleven Eighty has it all.

Lean and Lens Photography

From the moment you enter Eleven Eighty you will be swept up by its character and charm. It really is a wonderland of the unexpected, every turn you take leads you to something more to be discovered. So many incredible options within this special property. The team have worked tirelessly to restore this historical venue with so much love and care.

Candice Seymour

Eleven Eighty has to be the best venue on the south coast for a funky lux wedding or to be honest, any event that you need to be seriously special. The place is like a treasure trove filed with beautiful thoughtfully curated objects and super styled so that every different area is truly unique. There are so many gorgeous settings all just perfectly put together. The vintage train carriage blew me away.

Gaynor Tracey

We fell in love with Eleven Eighty because it’s a super unique venue. We knew we wanted something a little less traditional with a cool, relaxed party vibe and felt that Eleven Eighty really delivered on this. We especially love the courtyard and alfresco dining aspect of the venue and the rustic vibe of the bar.

Rachel Appleby

WOW! An absolute sensory overload from the moment you pull into the driveway, there’s is sooo much to take in! Interesting, eclectic, full of character, it’s almost too much! It’s FANTASTIC! Love it! Just spent 3 nights there for New Years celebrations and what a brilliant time was had, the venue is perfect stage to have an incredible gathering.

David Annett

After visiting Eleven Eighty I was amazed by the effort that was put into every detail to truly capture the unique character and beauty that it has. The owners and manager were very friendly and went above and beyond to accommodate our upcoming event. We are all super excited!!!!

Kylie Brown

Love this beautiful property! Ticks all the boxes for an ideal wedding venue and such a lovely space to style, the courtyard is magical at night to dine and dance under. We love it!

The Wedding and Event Creators

I went to an event at Eleven Eighty, I felt like I was transported back in time. Full of character and history with all the different parts to explore and have fun. It was an unforgettable experience and I look forward to the next time.

Lucy Brown

The most idyllic, tranquil setting that makes you feel relaxed the minute you get there! The property is tastefully decorated, the team are so friendly and the facilities are awesome. Highly recommend it!

Michelle Rubinstein

Grounds of Alexandria meets Soho House meets Alice in Wonderland…… Wow! How did we not know about this place? So incredibly beautiful with hidden treasures and unexpected plot twists around every corner. Riddled with character, old world charm and modern luxury, I really can’t think of an event space that has as much wow factor as this did.

Angie Laxton

We have booked our special day here. We were looking for a venue that could show our personalities, and Eleven Eighty has plenty of that! It is so cute wherever you look. Reanah is super friendly and easy to talk to. She has taken our special day as hers and was super helpful with info and suppliers. I’m so excited about our wedding and spending it here with our families!

Vanessa Vernazza

“We had our wedding at Eleven Eighty in November and it was truly the most magical experience for us and also for all of our guests. The grounds and venue are simply beautiful. Everything is so well maintained and the attention is second to none!”

Phil & Sue - Sydney

“I facilitated a corporate away day for a Sydney-based team, and found the historic and quirky venue was a great experience, with all we needed for a productive and creative day included – even lawn games for brain breaks and team building!”

Anthony - Berry

“An out-of-the-ordinary South Coast getaway with lovely hosts Richard and Clare. They were extremely welcoming and ensured we were well looked after, helping us arrange a private chef and visits to the local attractions.”

Liat Gould - Sydney

“There are some amazing quirks on this property that we absolutely loved; the converted train carriage was fantastic! The house was immaculate and Clare and Richard are amazing, down to earth hosts – we felt well looked after from start to finish.”

Mark Hatnean - Sydney

“Fantastic, a touch of class with an oldy worldy feel. Perfect to escape the city, do nothing at all or go all out and fill your weekend with wineries, ziplining, kayaking and more. Did I mention there’s a train carriage in the garden?!”

Jay Hobson - Sydney
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