Dorney House

View of outside Dorney House

Dorney House is an icon of Tasmanian modernist architecture and was the family home of the late architect James Henry Esmond Dorney.

Built in 1978 it is believed by some to be one of the great modern houses of Australia. The City of Hobart acquired the house, including the remnants of Fort Nelson and 35 hectares of surrounding bushland, in 2006 as a response to the community's desire to preserve the Sandy Bay skyline and the city's landscape values.

The site's cultural importance is recognised by its inclusion on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. Contributing factors include the architectural significance of Dorney House itself and the historical context of what remains of Fort Nelson (1909-49) which extend throughout the site.

Dorney House sits in front of the historic fort and has a modernist interior with sunken lounge and spectacular views over the Derwent Estuary.



Further information

History of Dorney House

Who was JH Esmond Dorney?

James Henry Esmond Dorney (1906-91), usually referred to as Esmond, was a highly original figure in post-World War 2 Tasmanian architecture.

Professor Philip Goad, Australia's foremost scholar of modernist architecture, believes Dorney's buildings stand out for their experimental style, their daring, and set him apart in Tasmania and Australia as a committed and highly inventive architectural individualist.

Dorney House's significance is further enhanced by Dorney's contribution as a pioneer of Australian modernist architecture.

The Dorneys and the Fort Nelson house site

Dorney House was the family home of Esmond Dorney who bought the site in 1949 and constructed family homes at Fort Nelson over the top of gun emplacements in 1949, 1966 and 1978. The 1966 house was destroyed in a 1978 bushfire and subsequently rebuilt. The Dorney family lived at the Fort Nelson site until 2006. 

Dorney House, Fort Nelson and Porter Hill

The site is located within Bicentennial Park and as such is subject to biodiversity and fire management regimes. A mosaic of management burns are being implemented across Porter Hill to deliver ecological regeneration and asset protection for the heritage house / fort atop the hill.

Can I make a booking?

In recent years the City of Hobart developed a program to provide community access to the site.

Public use of the house is possible and generally well suited to use the house for small group workshops, corporate planning days and tours that enable the general public to access and learn about the site.

Bookings are by exception and are carefully managed to be compatible with the site's constraints, like for example, Open House Hobart. Bookings are also only permitted during daylight hours.

The house is not available for private parties or weddings.

To make an booking enquiry please use our online form:

Booking enquiry


22 Gardenia Grove, Sandy Bay 7005  View Map

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