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The Evolution of Eleven Eighty: Wedding Venue:  Its history.  Chapter 1

The property today known as Eleven Eighty is entering its 3rd unique chapter as owners Richard and Clare Mills launch it as a recently restored and renovated boutique wedding venue on the South Coast.  Our guests tend to be interested in the history of this unique venue.  It is in part, its rich and varied past that gives it the atmosphere  and character that are guests are enamored with today.  Eleven Eighty is Vintage meets Rustic Charm.  Country meets Heritage. Looking to the future, we note on our website that the best stories are to be made at Eleven Eighty but with its rich and diverse history, a fabulous narrative has already told.

The continued interest in this unique, wonderful property from the local community and our recent guests has encouraged us to tell you its story.  This is the first of  a 3 part blog covering the key chapters of 1180 Bolong Road:

Chapter 1:  Life as a School:  1861-1959

The buildings known today as the former Coolangatta public school (The Old School Hall) and Schoolmaster’s house (Main Residence) , at 1180 Bolong road, Coolangatta, were placed on the NSW heritage list in 1985, as they were noted to be of significant historical importance to the area.  Here’s why:

By the 1850’s the increased number of tenant farmers and workers on the Coolangatta Estate meant that numerous families and children were living on site.   In response to the need to provide education for the children, their parents got together and leased a building made from cabbage trees (palms) from David Berry in 1861.  Adjoining the building was a residence which was also leased for use as the schoolmaster’s residence.  The first teacher (Samuel Watson) was paid by the parents for 6 months prior to an application to the Board of Education for a teacher’s salary and registration of the school as a Government school.  By today’s standards, Mr Watson did not have a stellar resume for the job with no academic qualifications and no teaching experience.  He could, however, read and write!!!  At the end of 1861, enrollment was at 32 students but attendance sat at only 25. Many of the enrolled students were often needed to work on the estate or to mind their younger siblings. The Coolangatta National School was est in 1861 and renamed the Coolangatta Public School in 1867.


By 1868 the cabbage tree building had been demolished and the school relocated to another temporary building.  Late in 1867 construction of the new teacher’s residence commenced with the building completed the following year.  The foundations were laid for the new school but it was not completed until 1883.  A major change was made to education in NSW through the 1880 Public Instruction Act which introduced compulsory education and Government secondary schools.  Compulsory attendance led to more aboriginal students attending school.  In 1882 there were approximately 30 Aboriginal children attending the school at Coolangatta.  When the school’s benefactor and owner of the property, Sir John Hay, died in 1909 the school and residence was sold to the Department of Public Instruction for 475 pounds.

In 1955 the nearby village of Jerry Bailey changed its name to Shoalhaven Heads. The children from the Heads would walk 5 miles each way over swampy ground to get to the school.  (Can you imagine our kids doing that today?)  They would get in trouble if they had dirty shoes, so as most only had one pair, they would walk bare foot across swamps and streams with their shoes or boots tied around their neck.  If you happened to live within 2 km of the school, you would run home at lunch time for food and jobs, returning for the afternoon.   In February 1958, the name of the Coolangatta School changed to the Shoalhaven Heads Public School and in 1959 the school moved location from Bolong Road to Shoalhaven Heads.


The School and its residence provides evidence of the development history of the Berry Estate by demonstrating the growth in the numbers of tenant farmers and workers on the estate by the mid 19th century.  The former Coolangatta Public School has strong historical associations with the Coolangatta Estate, a major undertaking in colonial NSW.    The school building is an excellent example of a single classroom Victorian weatherboard school.  The residence is a good, although modified, example of a Victorian Georgian cottage exhibiting key characteristics of the period.

For nearly 100 years these buildings served as the first and only school in the area for the local Coolangatta and Shoalhaven heads community.  By 1960 it had no purpose………………….

Look out for Chapter 2: The History of Eleven Eighty: Wedding Venue


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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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