Wallace Park was opened to the public in 1993. Today, the 90,000 square metre precinct includes Wallace House, Noosaville Library, Noosa Leisure Centre, Noosa Bridge Club, Noosa Parks Association’s Environment Centre, Tewantin-Noosa Meals on Wheels, Noosa Community Support Centre and the Endeavour Foundation.

Wallace House C1990 Edge

Wallace House, circa 1990

Wallace House Early 20c Edge

Wallace House, early 21st Century

The land was originally part of Hilton Park, the property purchased by Walter Hay in 1871, and the site of Noosaville’s first building. Sometime before 1930, the Hays’ family home burned down and this portion of the land was bought by Robert Adams who sold it to Arthur Wallace in 1930.

William Arthur Wallace was born in Mackay in 1876 and married the mayor’s daughter, Alice Dimmock. He spent more than 20 years as a member of the British Government Colonial service as a qualified surveyor, largely in British Malaya. The family’s retirement home, now called Wallace House, was a classic Californian bungalow design but with servants’ quarters at the back and wash basins in the bedrooms of the main house, as Wallace was accustomed to from his colonial lifestyle. It was built in 1931 by Cooroy builder Dick Caddell for £1,246 (around $400,000 today) with a boathouse, jetty and causeway over the swamp added later for an extra £120 (about $40,000 today). Electricity was connected in 1947 along with the rest of Noosaville and Tewantin. But town water was not connected to the house until 1966.

The Wallace’s daughter, Jean Dunstan, was visiting in April 1933 with her young family. Tragically her husband and younger son, Richard, drowned when boating on the river. Jean then remained living with her parents until they passed away, with Arthur living to be close to one hundred, dying in 1974.

It is rumoured that in the 1980s the house was the location of a “secret” casino and possibly a brothel.

In 1992, Noosa Council bought Wallace House as a future home for the arts and crafts of the shire. The membership of the Noosa Arts & Crafts Association was 150 strong at the time of opening in June 1993, with the membership increasing to over 400 today. Despite being damaged by fire in 1999, which took nearly two years to repair, Wallace House has had many successful years of hosting workshops, courses and seminars in a wide variety of arts and crafts. A pictorial history of the transformation can be found here.

The Noosa Heritage Library includes a significant collection of images and memorabilia from the Wallace family.