McKell’s Residence – 47 Toallo Street & Cottage at 49 Toalla Street


LISTEN NOW to the story of the McKell's Residence and nearby cottage

This site is the birthplace of one of Pambula’s most famous sons. Sir William McKell was born in the cottage at the rear of this property in 1891 to Robert and Martha McKell.

Like many others at the time, Robert had come to Pambula in 1889 after the discovery of gold. He married Martha Shepherd in 1890 and when his prospecting activities proved unsuccessful, he returned to his butchering trade, which he apparently operated from this site.

In 1899, the McKell family left the region to live in Sydney. Two short years later Robert deserted his wife and children, leaving poor Martha to raise William and his three siblings in the suburban slums of Surry Hills during the bubonic plague outbreak. Fun times! Leaving school at 13, William qualified as a boilermaker, was involved in trade unionism and politics, and in 1925 remarkably became a barrister. He served as a NSW state Labor member for Redfern for 29 years and NSW Premier for seven, before being appointed the 12th Governor General of Australia from 1947 until 1953, only the second Australian-born to hold the position. He was subsequently invested with a knighthood and became Sir William McKell.

As well as being a private home and a business premises, the weatherboard and slab cottage at the rear has also been a bed and breakfast accommodation.

Given its probable age, it may be one of the earliest timber buildings still standing in the main township.

The building at the front has also had various uses, including private residence, butchery, art and craft store, restaurant, printing shop and gallery. Most of the historic buildings on this tour, are listed on Schedule 5 of the Bega Valley Shire Council’s Local Environment Plan.




Constructed around 1891, this is yet another typical Pambula weatherboard cottage erected by members of the Behl family. It and the neighbouring building at 47 Toallo Street were originally almost identical in design and layout. The property remained in the Behl family for many years.

As you head back up to Quondola Street you’ll pass local artist Terri Tuckwell’s lovely mural Savannah in the Wetlands celebrating the great potential and future of our remarkable town and its inhabitants. Which seems a fitting way to finish exploring our past.

Thank you for joining us on our wander back in time to experience the history of Pambula Village. Please feel free to visit our website for the extended version of all of these stories and more.