Werribee Park Mansion

After staying the night at the fabulous Mansion Hotel, we spent some time the next morning exploring Werribee Park Mansion.

1.Werribee Park Mansion

The family history has more drama and intrigue than a Pulitzer Prize winning period romance novel. I’ll give you an abridged version while we wander, starting off at the stunning entrance hall.

4.hall

Scotsman Thomas Chirnside emigrated to Australia in 1838 seeking a new life and, seeing the opportunities in the agricultural industry, invested in stock and land. His brother, Andrew, joined him in 1841 and their pastoral empire flourished. On one side of the hall at the front of the house is the library, a cosy gentleman’s space.

Across the hall, the elegant drawing room where guests would be received and the ladies withdrew after dinner, has a definite feminine touch.

7.drawing room

Four years later, Thomas returned to Scotland for a visit, fell in love with his first cousin Mary and proposed marriage. Her parents didn’t approve and he returned alone. The formal dining room, with its exquisite ceiling rose, is next to the library

10.dining room

and the more informal breakfast room adjoins.

It was then Andrew’s turn for a trip home and Thomas asked him to bring Mary back to Australia any way he could. Andrew accomplished the task and he returned in 1852 with Mary as his wife. There is one bedroom on the ground floor with the modern convenience of an ensuite bathroom.

15.bedroom

Obviously a gentleman’s domain, the billiard room is adorned with hunting trophies and presumably, the family’s pet spaniel.

18.billiard room

25.billiard room

The peaceful conservatory has a distinctly tropical ambience.

26.conservatory27.conservatory

Thomas wanted Mary to live in a stately home and so, he and Andrew built the elaborate sandstone Italianate mansion at their Werribee Park property. The 60-room house took three years to build and was completed in 1877. The presentation in the kitchen leaves little doubt as to the lavish lifestyle enjoyed at Werribee Park.

Andrew and Mary, along with three of their children, lived at the mansion. Thomas, who never married, lived at his property in nearby Point Cook until his later years when he joined them at Werribee. At the top of the main staircase,

33.main staircase

the ornate saloon was an area used as a gallery and ballroom.

A doorway leads out to a magnificent tiled balcony at the base of the tower.

36.balcony

The brothers made many generous contributions to the community, including churches and schools, and hosted events such as polo matches and picnics in the expansive grounds. Looking out over the lawns, I could just picture the dashing men and the ladies in their finery out in the sunshine.

39.gardens40.parterre garden

After years of suffering from depression, Thomas took his own life in 1887. Found dead in the laundry with a shotgun beside him, it is believed his ghost now haunts the mansion. The laundry is housed in a separate bluestone building at the rear of the mansion.

41.laundry

Andrew died of heart failure three years later and his two youngest sons inherited the property on the proviso that Mary lived there for the rest of her days. The bedrooms on the first floor are beautifully decorated and each has its own dressing room.

42.chintz bedroom

45.blue bedroom46.blue bedroom

The children’s room is more than a bedroom, with an array of playthings to keep them amused.

47.childrens room

Tragically, Mary died from her injuries after her hair caught fire from a bedside candle in 1908. The back staircase leads to the servants rooms

and there are marvellous exhibitions of curios from life in the late 19th century. I can’t imagine an occasion where the bird hat would be appropriate, the corset looks positively painful and the ashtray is distinctly bad taste.

The brothers sold Werribee Park in 1922 to a wealthy grazier from Warrnambool. A year later, it was sold again to the Roman Catholic Church, was developed as a seminary and operated for fifty years. In 1973, the Victorian Government acquired the property and restored the mansion and grounds to its former glory.

57.main staircase

leaving lockdown

Our two weeks of isolation after returning from New Zealand in March turned into seven weeks, with lockdown imposed following an outbreak of a certain virus here in northwest Tasmania. There is a lot to be said for staying at home, we certainly didn’t sit around wondering what to do next. The eastern wall of the house, potting shed and chook house have had a fresh coat of stain

and Michael created a unique cover for the gas bottles.

5.gas bottle cover

The garden has had quite an overhaul with much trimming, new timber edging to the beds and a fresh layer of mulch.

6.garden7.garden8.garden

It is an ongoing project.

9.garden10.garden11.garden12.garden

With the lifting of lockdown last Monday, while it seems much of the population headed to the shops, we took Cooper for a much needed run around the local country roads with the top down. The sun was shining and the scenery was breathtaking. Snow atop Black Bluff is a gentle reminder that winter is just around the corner

13.Black Bluff

but there was no sign of it this day.

14.Dial Range

The autumn hues of liquidambar added a stunning contrast to the blues and greens.

15.liquidambar

Hopefully, we will have some more days like this before hunkering down until spring arrives.

16.Dial Range17.Natone18.Natone

resplendent roses

There is no better place to stop and smell the roses than Victoria State Rose Garden.

1.main entrance

Developed in stages from 1986 to 2001, over 5,000 rose bushes flourish in the 5 hectare garden and are all tended by volunteers. The main part of the garden is set out in the shape of a Tudor Rose, wide paths separate the five petals and a gazebo marks the centre.

2.gazebo

We wandered amongst the blooms, boggled by the variety and colours.

13.gazebo

Beyond the Tudor Rose, there is an area shaped as a leaf and one as a bud. The leaf celebrates horticultural achievements of Australian rose growers since 1900 and comprises 50 bushes especially bred for Australia’s sunny conditions.

The bud-shape highlights over 60 cultivars of David Austin roses.

22.roses

A 400 metre long Heritage Rose Border contains 250 types of old and species roses.

31.roses

The best time to see the roses is during the summer months but we weren’t disappointed with the splendour on offer in the middle of June.

32.rose garden

Wrest Point

Michael’s gig at Cascade Brewhouse in January gave us the opportunity to stay in Hobart overnight and the perfect excuse for a belated wedding anniversary celebration. We hadn’t been to Wrest Point since a holiday in 2007 when we enjoyed a fabulous evening in the revolving restaurant, it was time to revisit. Not only did Wrest Point become Australia’s first legal casino in 1973, its fascinating history dates back to 1789 when a chap named Thomas Chaffey was transported for life to Norfolk Island. He married Maria Israel, was made a constable and given 39 acres of land. When the settlement on Norfolk Island was closed, he received 62 acres of land in Hobart and built a house on land at Queensborough which became known as Chaffey’s Point. Thomas’s son, William, built an inn on the site called the Traveller’s Rest in 1839 and it was later purchased in 1939 to create a prestigious international hotel, the Wrest Point Riviera. The current Wrest Point hotel was built on the same site and is still the city’s tallest building at 64 metres.

1.Wrest Point Tower

The complex has been extended over the years and now includes a conference centre as well as a range of bars and restaurants and three accommodation options depending on your budget. We had booked a Water Edge room but were upgraded to a newly refurbished Harbour View Deluxe  King on the sixth floor of the tower. The décor was tasteful

and the view stunning, although we didn’t have much time to spend admiring it.

5.river view6.river view

After the Brewhouse, it was a quick freshen up and change for our reservation at The Point on the top floor of the tower. A selection of breads were presented, followed by a delicious venison taster.

For entrée, we both chose the Rannoch Farm quail breast, house made falafel, onion, Cygnet mushrooms, herbs & red wine jus.

11.quail

We differed on main course with Tasmanian slow cooked lamb rump & braised neck, cauliflower, sweet potato, snow peas, almonds, green raisins, herb salsa verde & dukkah seasoning and honey glazed duck breast, braised red cabbage, parsnip, bread dumplings, caramelised chestnuts, duck & orange jus.

Had we not opted for the table d’hôte menu, we would have declined dessert, not realising the meals would be quite so generous. We soldiered on. I had textures of rhubarb & berries, honey crème brûlée, elderflower, milk crumble, lemon sorbet, pistachio sponge & meringue, while Michael managed the walnut & maple syrup tart, buckwheat pastry, red wine poached pear, sauce Anglaise & yoghurt sorbet.

With no room for another morsel, we were presented with a mist shrouded platter bearing chocolates and a congratulatory anniversary note. How could we refuse?

16.Happy Anniversary

The following morning, a spotlight of sun pierced the clouds, illuminating the Derwent River and the cast of players waiting in the wings.

17.morning light18.rowers

A group of rowers appeared on the stage

followed by a lone paddle boarder, obviously confident enough to carry a backpack.

It wasn’t long before a seaplane landed then cruised downriver and disappeared from sight.

With the water entertainment over, we wandered through the venue to explore the immaculate grounds.

32.lawn31.pond

Cormorants preened on mussel crusted rocks,

with an enviable view of the Tasman Bridge and Mt. Wellington beyond.

35.Tasman Bridge

Vegetables and herbs are grown in the gardens, a ready supply to serve the patrons.

Boardwalk Bistro

39.Boardwalk Bistro

overlooks the marina.

40.marina

It is no surprise that Sandy Bay has the most expensive real estate in Hobart.

41.Sandy Bay

Our only disappointment was that we weren’t staying for longer but there is always a next time.

42.Wrest Point Tower

isolation

Some of you will know, at this point in time we should be enjoying the second half of our long awaited holiday in New Zealand. It all came to a very messy end last Wednesday when we learned all Australians had been advised to return home while they still could. We changed our flights to the earliest we could get, which was Monday, and continued with our plans for another three days. We returned the hire car and spent our last night in luxury at the new Novotel at Christchurch Airport. We wandered across to check in at 10.45am for the 1.45pm flight and the queue was already horrendous, it didn’t move at all until 11.20am. It seems that the ban on gatherings of 100 people or more isn’t applicable at airports! Speaking of bans, why has no-one mentioned covering your mouth when you yawn. Have you seen the spray of saliva droplets when someone yawns? Have you noticed how many people at airports yawn, especially when trapped in a check-in queue? Of course, there are those who chose to wear masks. After 22 years of my career working in the operating theatre, I thought I had mastered the face mask but it seems to have evolved into an art form. There is the chin mask, the ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ mask (lowered to the neck to facilitate consumption of a burger), the random scarf or bandana and my favourite, the eye shade mask. Simply invert your complimentary airline eye shades and wear over the nose and mouth!

We finally made it to the desk after fifty minutes and that is only because a very large portion of travellers were removed from the waiting line. It seems their connecting flight from Melbourne to their final destination had been cancelled and they couldn’t enter Australia without an onward flight. Arriving in Melbourne, we made our way to the Domestic Terminal, mortified to discover all seating areas in bars and eateries were closed, only take-away was available. That meant no wine to ease the pain of a four hour wait and a dinner of crisps and a chocolate bar! It also meant those people who would ordinarily have sat eating at tables were now thrown even closer together in the transit lounges.

Finally made it to Devonport soon after 9pm, with the help of wonderful friends our car was waiting for us, the keys with the ground staff. We weren’t allowed contact with anyone and are now in isolation at home for two weeks. Our lovely housesitter, Karen, had to rearrange her plans to depart before we arrived home. She did an amazing job of stocking the freezer, fridge and pantry before departing, thank you Karen, we will want for nothing.

Disappointed as we are to have our adventure cut short, there are worse places to be quarantined.

1.house2.view3.house

We have good company

4.Poppy

and a veggie patch burgeoning with produce.

There are soups and jams to be made as well as gardening to catch up on. We still have 15 cubic metres of mulch to spread

13.mulch

and many odd jobs to complete. I don’t think two weeks will be long enough!