DAVID and Robyn McPherson have become accustomed to coming home and finding strangers lurking around outside.
It comes with the territory of owning a historic house. Especially one formerly occupied by the official secretary to the governor general Sir Murray Tyrrell.
The Queanbeyan home's rich history and original architecture is the very reason so many visitors come to see it. In fact, the cottage is listed as a point of interest in the Queanbeyan History Trail brochure.
"It's not unusual to have people pull up to look at the house or to have people outside," Robyn said.
"Two months ago I came home and there was a couple outside from Wollongong. They had bought a home of a similar vintage to ours. They were a young couple, younger than us maybe in their early 40s."
They didn't want to change their home they just wanted to make it livable, the same as us, we just want to keep it in a livable state."
The McPhersons purchased the cottage in 1988 downsizing from their six-acre property in Sutton Road. David and Robyn, 68 and 65-years-old respectively, had been looking for an abode closer to town particularly as their three daughters had part-time jobs in the CBD and this would cut down on the travelling time.
"It wasn't a sensible decision, we had three girls and the house was three bedrooms, it was tiny," Robyn said.But it was love at first sight for the McPhersons who purchased the house from former-Canberra Raiders captain Dean Lance.
"It was a spur of moment decision, we saw the house advertised and thought we would have a sticky-beak just for the history," Robyn said.
"We loved the house as soon as we walked in."David quickly arranged a deposit with the real estate agent to secure the property.
"I asked the real estate agent what he would do if we were to buy. He said 'I'd close up and go to the pub' so we put down a holding deposit of $200," he said.
The couple loves anything with a bit of history and character and the cottage fit the brief.
"You'd never find something like this ... we bought it for the uniqueness, it wasn't for the wonderful furniture or the good condition of the house. It was also in good proximity to the river, to the town, to everything," Robyn said.
"We did look right into [the history] when we moved in but it comes in fits and starts, just like with family history. You dabble into it and become obsessed, and then you get to a dead end and don't want to do it anymore for a while.
"The cottage is believed to have been home to notable families including John Bull, John Mayo, John West and of course Sir Murray Tyrrell.The architecture also tells its own story with the walls made of handmade brick laid in an interlocking "garden wall" bond, original windows and tiles and a dated bathroom lined with unsealed cedar.
During the course of renovations the McPhersons have found newspapers under the floorboards dated from the 1800s and even an old dug out boat left by Sir Murray Tyrrell.
"I think Sir Murray Tyrrell saw it as a haven as opposed to the "officialdom" of all the work he had to do," Robyn said.
Now the cottage is the McPhersons' haven and in 2000, they decided to expand and connect a three bedroom house to the cottage for extra space.
"When we added on the other house we intended to live here for another 20 years, we're 12 years into that," she said.
"We're fast realising it's just the two of us now."
The McPhersons' self-confessed hoarding habit has prevented them from moving out.During the course of their conversation with The Age, Robyn mentions owning more than 2000 cookbooks, 50 decorative cake tins and even the old brick-making machine used to build the cottage's original walls.
"Our garage is filled with books, 20 storage boxes worth at least," Robyn said. "Our children threaten us that we'd better get rid of all the boxes before we die or it'll just all go to the tip.
"We have considered moving out before and you pack things into boxes but then forget about them," David added.
"It's all a bit too much to think about really."