Wyvernleigh: One of the First Houses in the Manly District

The Wyvernleigh House: One Manly’s First Houses

Built sometime before 1862, Wyvernleigh is believed to have been the first house to be built in the area we know today to be the intersection of Oceana Terrace and Kooralgin Street in the Manly District. The site is now home to a Catholic primary school.



Early settlement in the Manly area began in 1859 when the area was surveyed and subdivided including a 200-acre land obtained through a grant by Thomas Jones. At the time, the land where a sugar plantation was also established was known as Wyvernleigh.


Joseph Lewthwaite bought the land and built a homestead in the area carrying the estate’s name. The homestead was later named Tingalpa House and is believed to be the first house to be built in the area. 

In 1882, the land was auctioned off for the Manly Beach estate, believed to have been named after Manly in Sydney. Seven years later, the railway line was extended from Brisbane, passing through Wynnum and Manly to Cleveland.

In 1892, the Estate was subdivided and renamed Manly.

Between 1910 and 1920, the Manly Amateur Swimming Club was established whilst a primary school was opened in 1910. In 1926, tidal baths were built and became popular attractions until they were damaged by a cyclone in 1959.


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Wyvernleigh House on the corner of present-day Oceana Terrace and Kooralgin Street
Wyvernleigh House on the corner of present-day Oceana Terrace and Kooralgin Street | Photo Credit: St John Vianney’s Catholic Parish / manlycatholicparish.org.au

Also in 1926, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane purchased one of the allotments, where the homestead stands, for church purposes. Mass was said in the Wyvernleigh house until it was demolished the following year. 

The homestead was replaced by a Parish Hall which was later consecrated as a Church. The site, located on the corner of present-day Oceana Terrace and Kooralgin Street, is now occupied by  St John Vianney’s Catholic Primary School.  



St John Vianney’s Catholic Primary School was founded by the Presentation Sisters. It opened on Australia Day 1941 as St Philomina’s and was previously situated across the road from where it is now. In 1953, the school was moved to its present location where the Wyvernleigh House used to stand.