Abandoned Notre Dame Zoo, Sydney, Australia

The Abandoned Notre Dame Zoo, Sydney, Australia

Emmanuel Margolin’s Notre Dame Zoo and French Chateau worth $27 million that was once coined “The Best House in the World” by the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, is now a relic of its former self.

Spread over 45 hectares deep in the mountains of Mulgoa, Sydney, the Margolin residence and abandoned Notre Dame zoo used to house endangered species such as panthers, pumas and jaguars. Nine species of monkeys, Spanish Andalusian stallions worth $1 million and other exotic animals and flora/fauna also thrived here back in the 80’ and 90’s.

The animal cages, stables, gift shop and café are still intact although overcome by sprawling nature. Near to the cages, sits the chateau that the owner, Emmanuel Margolin lived in with his family and once filled it with antiques such as a mirror owned by Mary Queen of Scots and a Mazarin desk owned by Louis XIII.

During an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in 1995, Emmanuel told reporter, Daphne Guinness, he had 20 clocks to wind up each day, his most prized one is one that was given to Napolean when he captured the sphinx in Egypt.

Emmanuel owned numerous other riches including “Playel”, the oldest French piano in existence that had once been placed by Chopin, a Baccarat chandelier worth $60,000 and matching gold Rolls Royce cars for him and his wife.

His private zoo and garden grounds included stables, croquet lawn, Shinto shrine, rainforest, and an Olympic sized horse show arena. Six zookeepers, four gardeners, a mechanic, a foreman, a carpenter, and 71 Blackamoor spear-laden guards looked after the property.

Here are some photos of what the Notre Dame Zoo used to look like back in its heyday.


Margolin held many private and sometimes public events, but it wasn’t the horse shows, entry fees or hard-earned work that paid for his extreme wealth. Instead, Emmanuel had registered his zoo as a charity called The Association for the Preservation and Welfare of Endangered Species and The Preservation of Australian Flora and Fauna.

Instead of preserving animals, the thousands raised provided rent-free accommodation for the Margolin’s, a $1,000-a-week salary for his caretaker, and it covered the family’s living expenses. As of June 1988, the bogus charity had accumulated losses of $310,000 and made loans of $1.3 million. Needless to say, the charity was denounced and rumours of Margolin being fiery-tempered not just with his staff but also his animals surfaced.

In 1990, Emmanuel decided he wanted to sell up due to the heightened amount of tourist interest in the zoo. The property has since been bought by foreign investors but nothing has been demolished or refurbished as of yet.

Enjoy the photography slideshow below and don’t forget to follow Abandoned World Photography for regular urbex updates on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Inside Emmanuel Margolin’s Abandoned Notre Dame French Chateau

Inside the Abandoned Notre Dame Zoo


  • Sean
    September 30, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Such a special and exclusive area. I explored this place a few months ago and got access the same way you did. (That almost 4km walk there and back killed me!) spose you didn’t get inside the mansion itself? Surprisingly I managed to find an unlocked door. The furniture left inside was fkn incredible. Taxidermy everywhere too!

    • charlie
      June 8, 2023 at 12:34 am

      hey where did you start the hike or find it on google earth please just a hint

  • Grant D.
    Grant D.
    February 13, 2019 at 2:08 am

    This is sooooo cool…..just makes me want to buy it and then restore it to exactly house it looked at its peak ! So sad it is just sittign there wasting away….foreign owned and then once the land is worth a ka’jillion dollars, they’ll bulldoze the lot and put a shitty new housing estate in there and this history will be lost. Truly horrible.

    • Peter Sajkic
      Peter Sajkic
      September 23, 2020 at 11:41 pm

      isnt abandoned anymore….never was abandoned. People that live there just dont care as they dont own it

  • Phill Johnston
    Phill Johnston
    June 9, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Back in the 80’s I worked with the man who designed the main residence for Margolin. His name was Bob Stapleton, a local builder and he like many others sadly suffered at the hands of Margolin who refused to pay Bob the agreed amount for his services. Consequently, this had a profound effect on Bob and he never recovered mentally from this betrayal. Bob Stapleton was yet another unfortunate victim of Margolin’s dubious dealings.

  • ivan madin
    ivan madin
    June 12, 2019 at 12:16 am

    sandi and rob madin worked at notre dame as caretakers for a few years,loved it. think we were the last ones to work there

  • Cathy Bevill
    Cathy Bevill
    February 7, 2020 at 3:36 am

    If it ever refurbished, count on me to help. I am in awe, I have never seen it but I think of little else
    but that it could be beautiful again and used as a hi end hotel. New owners take note. People care about the property.

    • Peter Sajkic
      Peter Sajkic
      September 23, 2020 at 11:45 pm

      way beyond recovery

  • Trevor fleming
    Trevor fleming
    October 27, 2020 at 8:53 am

    This was a lovely house n property went there with my dad when he worked several times there replacing glass windows he knew the gentleman when i was newly married took my wife there the gentleman there n my wife got on well . It was and still a beautiful property the animals .were lovely n the inside of the house was amazing its sad that it closed down.love to work there even to do general cleaning now im 63 but still remember this beautiful place and elcabello blanco which was just around corner from my place thank you for the memories

  • peasy
    June 17, 2023 at 9:49 am

    does anyone know what’s happened to it now? all info online dries up past 2020. Would love to know if it’s being repaired or taken care of again!


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