Pearl Bay, Middle Harbour houseboat Tanderra, which dates back to the 1920s, listed for auction

Pearl Bay, Middle Harbour houseboat Tanderra, which dates back to the 1920s, listed for auction
Jonathan ChancellorDecember 8, 2020

Tanderra, one of Sydney’s few remaining houseboats and which dates back to the 1920s, has been listed for August 4 sale.

It was one of 32 houseboats moored in Middle Harbour near The Spit at Pearl Bay during the 1930s depression, but now there’s just four.  

A Mosman heritage study said the houseboats were "rare examples of a now unconventional form of living still in use".

 Maureen Young's Pearl Bay houseboat, aka HB8, has been listed after securing a 40-year lease with Roads and Maritime Services.


There was recent controversy when the Mosman deputy mayor Simon Menzies suggested it should be "towed out to sea and sunk" given its was a visual eyesore.

“It is visual pollution in one of Sydney’s most picturesque bays,” he said.

Young told the Mosman Daily it was badly in need of a makeover but she had been unable to renovate until security of tenure was finalised.

Young paid about $150,000 in 1983 and then rebuilt the 65-tonne pontoon. Its listing agent Sandie Dunn says Young bought the houseboat from adman John Singleton who then went onto buy the much-publicised Spec houseboat.

Tanderra is an Aboriginal word for resting place.

When the war began in 1939, there were 15 houseboats remaining on Sydney Harbour and then immediately after, with a housing shortage and high rents, houseboat applications soared.

The biggest houseboat colonies were on the Parramatta River, near Gladesville Bridge and Meadowbank, and on the Hawkesbury River at Berowra Waters. Catalina flying boat hulls were often used.

There are three houseboats at Pearl Bay, including Spec and Lodestar, and a houseboat moored at Clontarf. The last known houseboat sale was Spec, an Ian Kiernan-designed floating home, in 1996.

Its listing agent Sandie Dunn won't be drawn on price.

Dunne, of Dunne Mosman, says the value of the houseboat was not in its structure but in the length of its lease and existing use rights status.


Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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