Striking architectural features characterise many of Melbourne and Victoria's grand homes of yesteryear. Some those that have survived the tides of time have been protected for future generations and are open to the public to explore and learn about what life was like in a vastly different era.
This Gothic Revival home overlooks the Barwon River in the Geelong suburb of Newtown. It was built in the 1850s and features a fine collection of early Victorian furniture and fittings. The surrounding gardens include a fountain, century old trees and lawns which slope down to the river.
Built in 1861 and the former residence of a silversmith, the home houses a significant collection of art works. It is set within 2 hectares of enchanting gardens and includes a nursery and gift shop. Many of the plants that were originally planted in the garden in the 1860s remain today.
Built in 1842 west of Yarrawonga, this homestead is classified by the National Trust and is open to the public as a memorial to the district's pioneering days. The homestead is surrounded by established gardens and includes a cafe and a brewery house.www.byraminehomestead.com.au
This colonial mansion is set on 2 hectares of historic gardens. It was built in 1847 and is a fusion of Italianate and Australian Regency architecture. Home to prominent colonial families in the 19th and 20th centuries, it is now open to the public.
Location: South Yarrawww.nationaltrust.org.au
Coolart is a magnificent late Victorian mansion which was built in 1895 and is set within attractive grounds. The property includes extensive wetlands and a lagoon where thousands of Australian white ibis nest every year.www.coolart.org.au
Built in 1876, Government House is the principal residence of the Governor of Victoria and is one of Australia's finest examples of Italianate architecture. Located in Kings Domain and adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, visitors can join a tour and see the Grand Ballroom, State Dining Room, Billiard Room, significant outbuildings and explore the regal grounds.
Location: Melbourne CBDwww.governor.vic.gov.au
This timber farm complex consists of a historic homestead built in the 1840s, cottage gardens, farm animals and displays of farm implements and household items. Discover what daily life was like on a farm in the era of early settlers and pioneers. Australia's largest maize maze is also located on the property.
Location: Yarra Glenwww.nationaltrust.org.au
Those interested in architecture can't go past the French Renaissance mansion Labassa. Built in 1890, it has become a well-known attraction in Caulfield North due to its arcaded verandahs, grand staircase, intricate stained glass windows and Italian marble.www.nationaltrust.org.au
Magnificent views and a rich variety of plant and birdlife are some of this Gippsland park's attractions. The highlight is Nyerimilang Homestead, in a delightful garden setting on a cliff top above the beautiful Gippsland Lakes. Perfect picnic spots are surrounded by garden and scenic walks meander along bush and farm tracks, past Kurrajong trees, wetland areas and through the East Gippsland Indigenous Plant Garden.
Location: Lakes Entrancewww.parks.vic.gov.au
The historic Rio Vista House was the Chaffey family's grand Californian influenced home which was built in 1891. The Chaffey brothers were from Canada and established Australia's first irrigation scheme after great success in California. Many of the home's original furnishings are preserved, and there are beautiful gardens which visitors can explore.
Located near Brighton in neighbouring Elsternwick, Rippon Lea is set on 5 hectares of extensive gardens which include sweeping lawns, flower and rose gardens, a large lake, waterfall, lush fernery and orchard. The home itself was built in 1868 and the many rooms illustrate different periods of its ownership over the years. There is also a nostalgic pop-up tea room located in the stables.www.ripponleaestate.com.au
Robinswood Homestead was built in 1926 and was the home of the Cuttle family who founded Robinvale. Surrounding the homestead are gardens which contain some of the shrubs and trees that were planted at the time the home was built. Memorabilia of the Cuttle family are on display in the home and there are regular open garden days. The homestead is located within Riverside Park, just across the road from the Murray River.
This historic property includes the graceful Briars Homestead which was built in stages commencing in 1848 and is open for public tours. The park also includes a visitors centre, vineyard, nursery and a large wildlife reserve featuring wetlands and bird observation hides. There are number of walking trails through the wetlands, woodlands and pastures.
Location: Mount Marthawww.mornpen.vic.gov.au
Landscaped gardens surround a spectacular Italianate mansion which was built in the 1870s by the pioneering Chirnside Brothers. In 1923, the mansion was sold to the Catholic Church who ran it as a seminary and added several wings to the original homestead which are now occupied by the Mansion Hotel & Spa. Now under government ownership, visitors can explore the mansion, learn about the Australian pastoral empire of the Chirnside Family and enjoy the surroundings which include formal gardens, a parterre, glasshouses, open lawns, a lake, original farm buildings and a sculpture walk.