By RENEE REDMOND
SUE DAKIN took a gamble when she bought a grand historic mansion in serious disrepair.
But just over one year later, the lady of Tulloona House is inviting the public in to see the first fully-restored room ? the ballroom.
"When we bought the house I thought we'd have it fully restored within one year, but now I realise it's going to take at least another five years," she said.
In the meantime, Ms Dakin will open the bottom storey to the public on the first Thursday of every month.
"So many people are curious about it and a lot think the Historical Society owns it," she said.
The seven-bedroom Heritagelisted Victorian mansion alongside the Rous Road roundabout at Goonellabah was built in 1895.
"She's so grand. I know the house is a girl because she's pretty, she's been neglected and now she's coming back to life," Ms Dakin said.
The ballroom renovation was completed two weeks ago.
"Termites and water rot had eaten into the walls, there was nothing holding up the windows, it was like pulling honeycomb out," she said.
"The idea of Heritage restoration is doing as much as needed and as little as possible so the character of the building is preserved."
In 16 months, Ms Dakin and husband Michael have spent $95,000 on restorations.
"We've also shifted 44 cubic metres of rubbish from outside the house," she said.
"It's taken the help of friends and qualified tradespeople to get her to this stage. Eventually I want her to be our family home."
Ms Dakin is aware of rumours her house is haunted and has been told by people currently residing at Tulloona that the ghost of a butler often closes doors around the house.
However, she has no regrets about buying her mansion.
"Most of the cleaning up is done now so we'll be concentrating on bringing her back to life," Ms Dakin said.
Tulloona will be open to the public on the first Thursday of every month, from 10am-3pm.