Dorney House At Fort Nelson

24 Gardenia Grove, Sandy Bay, TAS

Architect:  Unknown (1904) (Fort Nelson), Esmond Dorney (1949, 1966 and 1978) (Dorney House)

Described as ‘a humble masterpiece’, this groundbreaking Esmond Dorney building is the third iteration of the architect’s own home. Built in 1978 for the architect’s family and now owned and managed by the Hobart City Council, Dorney House is a reconstruction of two earlier homes – also designed by Dorney – that were destroyed by bushfire. Located atop the abandoned fortifications of Fort Nelson, it features multiple radiating split levels with a sunken lounge and interior that provides stunning views of the Derwent estuary. The house has been a highlight of the Open House program since it was first included in 2014. A courtesy shuttle bus will be available to transport you to the house from Gardenia Grove.

‘Our best architecture elevates our spirit and tells our stories. The house that Esmond built for his family on the top of Porter Hill speaks of the importance of experimentation and connection to nature, something that has become core to Tasmanian architecture today.’ – Tim Ross, Open House Hobart ambassador.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’re pleased to present An Afternoon in the Dorney House with architecture enthusiast and Open House ambassador Tim Ross, who will present a hilarious, nostalgic, personal and poignant journey through our unique relationship with the Australian home. Find out more here.

Open: Saturday 12 November, 10 am – 4 pm. Please arrive no later than 3.20 pm to allow time for your mini bus transfer to the house, for you to look around, and to get back down.

Accessibility: Mini bus transfers from the top of Gardenia Grove up the steep drive to Dorney House. Please wear sturdy shoes and be mindful of the hazards on site, including loose gravel, uneven surfaces, steep drop-offs, tripping hazards and low head-heights.



Sandy Bay

Building Types


Intact Interior


Roof Design

Spectacular Views

Architectural Period

Mid-Twentieth Century (1940-1960)


Architectural Design



Stair Access Only

Steep Incline

Uneven Surfaces

Paddy Dorney

Paddy Dorney is a retired member of the governing Council and the Senate of the University of Tasmania. He has taught architecture at UTAS School of Architecture and was the Student President of the University for some years. He has worked in concert with the Australian Institute of Architects to present the very exciting and successful Open House Program from its origin, ten years ago. Read more

See. Snap. Share. Win.

Share your pics of your favourite places and the stories that go with them on Instagram or Facebook, using the hashtags #oh_hobart and #oh_launceston to enter this year’s photo competition. Stay tuned for a host of prizes.