Recently the government auctioned a grand 1830s Georgian house in Argyle Place that had been used for public housing until recently. This was one of the Millers Point mansions the community has been calling on the government to sell: it is too valuable to keep and the government has shown it is unable to look after these important heritage houses.
Interior photos show that the property was well looked after by its public housing tenants, but its owner, the NSW Government, failed to maintain it. Several floors have been eaten through by termites and are now too dangerous to walk on; the joists are likely to have been eaten out as well; and the rare timber screens on the front verandah are almost entirely lost to insect damage.
This house is much less damaged by insect attack than others in the area which have suffered by being located on what Housing NSW staff call the Millers Point Termite Highway. Nonetheless, insects have eaten what is likely to cost the new owner a million dollars to repair. The financial loss is great, and the heritage loss is irreplaceable.
The new Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard is looking at ways to save the community while selling these Millers Point mansions. The community has solutions that will allow residents to remain in the modest workers flats and the Sirius apartments which were purpose built for social housing. These later buildings are mostly in good condition. The family from this house were relocated away from the area, but this could be the last family to be forced from Millers Point.
Below are photos of other properties on Millers Point’s Termite Highway. People who viewed one of these properties in the lead up to its auction were required to sign a waiver before entering, were allowed only four at a time within the property, and only one at a time on the staircase which was in danger of collapse; they were required to wear hard hats for the duration of their visit. The other photos show part of a termite nest discovered after the government sold another local property, and an interior photo indicating the extent of the damage these termites had caused.