Architect Andrew Fedorowicz of Balance Architecture and Interior Design supervises the relocation of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Gate Keepers Cottage, Lake Wendouree.

The original Gatekeepers Cottage had been relocated to 1414 Gregory St Wendouree around 1930. It was recently been purchased by the Ballarat City Council and after an extensive process which included a Heritage Impact Statement prepared in April 2017, the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens have now achieved its return to the Botanical Gardens where it will be utilised as an educational facility for visiting children.

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It is believed the building was originally located at the North Gates on St Aidans’s Drive. An early photograph of the cottage taken in 1873 verifies this location on its descriptive caption. For various reasons including flood potential, distance from other buildings and infrastructure and the absence of fencing this site is no longer deemed suitable for re-location. Wetlands and typical vegetative growth found in Wetland areas are profiled in this location now, precluding a move back to its probable original site.

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A new site to the north of the former Adam Lindsay Gordon Cottage has been selected on suitable flat ground adjacent to existing children’s play equipment. It is to the east of the Council Nursery buildings.

The cottage has been transported in total with the dismantled chimneys to be re-reconstructed on the new site. No mature trees or plantings are required to be removed at the Botanical Gardens relocation site.

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The move as can be seen via the Win News report has been facilitated successfully and Andrew Fedorowicz of Balance Architecture has been appointed by the Ballarat City Council to oversee and manage the reconstruction of this historic building.

Its a great example of where the real and genuine history of a precinct can be rescued, appreciated and reconstructed for a meaningful purpose today. Andrew is most pleased to be involved and looks forward to its full relocation, reconstruction and completion where it will serve future generations of young children in understanding our rich heritage of the past.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.


The Sport of Kings become Property Developers

One of the biggest transformations of this decade is where the major Horse Racing venues – Flemington, Caulfield, Mooney Valley and Sandown Racecourses are all earmarked for, or have recently undergone significant re-development projects. The principal clubs – the VRC, the VATC and the MVRC are all financially healthy. However the industry is well aware of the challenges of remaining relevant in a myriad of sporting entertainment choices for the public. And they have land! This week we look at Flemington and what the Victorian Racing Club has done to both modernise and capitalise on its existing holdings.


Flemington saw its first race meeting on the rough, flood prone river flats of the Maribyrnong River in March 1840. The City of Melbourne was just 5 years old. The first race meeting had been held on the site of the current Southern Cross Station two years earlier. Flemington Racecourse was first known as the Melbourne Racecourse. The original property in the area was owned by James Watson. The main Melbourne approach road transversed the property which was called Flemington – named after his Wife’s Elizabeth’s hometown in Scotland. You may recall this property was the forerunner of Travancore – the estate we have looked at earlier. This is where the name Flemington was derived.

The finish of the Melbourne Cup 1885, credit State Library of Victoria.jpg__760x480_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscale

Flemington, as the name and location of the Racecourse, was in common usage by the late 1850s.


Originally the land was acquired from the ‘Lang Brothers’ by the then NSW Governor and was regarded as Crown Land. It was decreed that 352 acres be considered a ‘public racecourse’ in 1848. The Victorian Colony was established in 1851, and up until 1870 the site was administered by six Government appointed trustees. In 1871 the Victorian Racing Club was legislated to be the trustees of the racecourse.

The Victorian Racing Club had formed in 1864 with the Victorian Turf Club (1852) and the Victorian Jockey’s Club (1857) both disbanding to form the new club.

Originally racing was scheduled for Autumn. It was in 1854 that the then Victoria Turf Club decided to run a Spring Meeting as well. The First Melbourne Cup was run in 1861, and the rest as they say is indeed history.

Flemington and the Melbourne Cup are deeply ingrained in Melbourne’s psyche. Mark Twain, CJ Dennis, Adam Lindsay Gordon, all were great admirers and ‘aficionados of the turf’ and are now perpetually linked to the great festival that has become the Melbourne Cup.

The public were admitted free to the inner paddock of the track in the early days – it was known as ‘The Flat’.

The first Grandstand was constructed in 1873. It was exclusively for members (and only men could be members!). It was known as Bagot’s Cowshed – named after the then secretary of the club Robert Cooper Bagot. It was at the base of the ‘Hill’ and supplemented this main viewing area of the Hill.

When Henry Byron Morgan became secretary in 1882 he commissioned four more new grandstands, incorporating elegant vice regal facilities. He also was the driving force behind the creation of the lawns and gardens, including the famous rose gardens. William Salway was the original architect who provided much of Flemington’s unique design, under Morgan’s period as secretary.


In 1922 the VRC embarked upon a major redevelopment of the racecourse. Bagot’s old stand became a public stand and Architects Roberts and Marks designed and built a superb new members stand (this stand was recently demolished to make way for the new Grandstand). New Tote buildings were constructed in 1930 to house the complicated gadgetry which supported this type of on-course betting. Several of these buildings still remain today (although substantially altered). The racecourse was utilised by the Defence Forces during World War II with racing suspended.

The ‘Old Hill Stand’ was constructed in the 1950s. This period saw many of the older structures demolished to make way for the somewhat bland construction style of that period. A new Hill stand was constructed in 1978-79 and the new ‘Prince of Wales’ stand was constructed in 1984 with a new members stand above it.

There are all sorts of treasures located at Flemington. ‘It is of aesthetic architectural, historical and social significance to the State of Victoria’ – The Heritage Register. From the odd 1930s tote buildings, the 1920s style Men’s toilets, the chronographic clock in the VRC committee room to the 1870s Brass Bell near the Racecourse manager’s office, it is a place richly steeped in history and a living history at that. The former 1924 stripped Grandstand was significant in that is was one of the last 1920s interwar stripped classical grandstands still intact… It is now gone.


There are some very major changes occurring at Flemington right now. The Old Member’s Grandstand and the Tote buildings at the rear of the grandstand have been demolished to make way for what will be known as ‘The Club’ Grandstand.


‘The dynamic design by award winning architects Bates Smart is superior in quality and innovation’ – says the VRC website. The new stand is scheduled to open in time for the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival in November of that year. The construction is now ahead of schedule.


The new stand is part of a $135 million ‘upgrade’ of the Flemington layout. It will be in addition to the track rebuild and flood mitigation works completed in 2006.


The track and its surrounds have subsequently been rezoned which now permits a variety of new developments that previously were not possible.

It would appear that the club has won its battle with Victoria’s Heritage Register. The compromise was to feature many historic features of the old Grandstand in the new Grandstand and to auction off material not used for memorabilia. Wood panelling, iron features and door knobs will make their way to the new ‘Club’ Grandstand. These components formed part of the older 1924 Member’s Grandstand. “There is precious little at Flemington that isn’t of Heritage importance, right down to the track with its long straight” said Paul Roser, Heritage Victoria’s senior conservation manager.

Funding has come from selling off two land parcels adjacent to the track to Chinese developers Greenland Holding Group. The group plan to build four high-rise apartment blocks adjacent to the track. The towers – at the rear of the Grandstand complex on the other side of the railway station were to be 31, 25 and 14 storeys high respectively. The land was the old asphalted members car park. A separate land parcel on Epsoms Rd where the proposed Tower was to be 31 storeys high has been reduced to 15 storeys, and the three buildings in Ascot Vale behind the Grandstands can be no higher than 10 storeys.

The planning proposal and subsequent rezoning of the properties has been approved by the Government Planning Minister not withstanding that the Epsom Rd building was outside any designated renewal area and that there would be no commuter use of the existing Flemington Racecourse Railway Station by the thousands of new residents occupying the towers.

In short, the character and feel of this historic precinct will be changed forever. You be the judge as to whether it is for the better.

From my perspective, I actually like the new Club Grandstand, but I sometimes wonder whether it would not be possible to disassemble the older buildings such as the former Member’s Grandstand and move them somewhere else – either at the racetrack or perhaps a site like Werribee Racetrack which sorely needs such facilities. The State Government contributed $10 million to the Club Grandstand development – enough to cover such a relocation.

Putting it in perspective the club generated well over $160 Million in revenue in 2015-16 and retains equity of over $203 million.

Til next week when we move to another similar location with a very different history.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Escape to Pentridge

‘Escape to Pentridge’ says the Developers website – it continues ‘Pentridge is unique. Built on solid bluestone, its foundations are firmly rooted in Melbourne’s History. New and Historical architecture will sit side by side. The heart of Coburg is to be reborn, transformed into a vital hub of creativity and commerce interlinked with residential opportunities. Escape ordinary. Escape to Pentridge.’

Oh just not so funny – what a very sorrowful place, what a history! But indeed there has been a transformation and now its new residents do live with, well – with the ghosts of the past.

Pentridge Prison commenced as a stockade made of log huts on wheels surrounded by a 1.2 metre fence. The original stockade held 16 prisoners marched to the site from the Melbourne Gaol – at that time overcrowded with the huge population influx beginning to occur from the Gold Rush.


Prison Hulk

At the time Prisoners were held in hulks (decommissioned ships) anchored off Sandridge (Port Melbourne) and Williamstown and at the Melbourne Gaol located on Russell St in the city’s north.

Local residents of Coburg were totally outraged and so the prisoners, who were seconded to work on the new Sydney Rd, toiled in chains, eating, sleeping and working in chains – 24 hours per day. These were very harsh times, with floggings, solitary confinement and ever heavier chains being the order of the day. Bread and water – and for the very worst, shipped back to the floating prison hulks on the bay.

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This original stockade was replaced with what has been described as a Pentonville style prison between 1857 and 1864. High external bluestone walls and guard towers provided the sought after higher levels of security.

a division

 A Division

A women’s prison, ‘A Division’ was designed and built then utilised until 1871 – when the women were again transferred back to the Melbourne Gaol – or as we know it now – the ‘Old Melbourne Gaol’. A new three storey building was constructed in 1894. It was to accommodate the then 195 female prisoners held at the Governor’s pleasure – on fixed prison terms. This 3 storey building was vacated in 1956 when Fairlea Women’s prison was opened at Fairfield and all women prisoners transferred. It then became known as ‘D Division’ and housed male prisoners.


D Division

But for a second let’s get real. Known as the ‘Bluestone College’, ‘Coburg College’ or the ‘College of Knowledge’ this place for inmates was a ‘hellhole’.

Our old friend Hugh Linaker had a hand in developing the grounds of Pentridge, landscaping them in his familiar grand English parkland style.

There were 10 Divisions in the prison. These were as follows:

  • A – Short and long term prisoners of good behaviour
  • B – Long term prisoners with behavioural problems – a very mean and dangerous place open up until the late 1980s
  • C – Vagabonds and short term prisoners – where Ned Kelly was imprisoned
  • D – Remand prisoners
  • E – Prison Hospital – later dormitory division for short term prisoners
  • F – Remand and short term
  • G – Psychiatric problems
  • H – High Security, discipline and protection
  • J – Young offenders group – later long term prisoners with a history of good behaviour
  • Jika Jika – Maximum security risk and for protection – later renamed K Division

Pentridge in architectural terms has many unique features, but the most outstanding of these were what were known as Panopticons. These followed the design of Jeremy Bentham’s 1791 Prison Design. There were three of those Panopticons. The feature was a wedge shaped structure that opened onto ‘airing yards’ where Prisoners were permitted access for one hour per day. Jeremy Bentham was a ‘social reformer’ of his time. These Panopticons fell out of use and were demolished due to prison overcrowding in the early 1900s.

A number of iconic heritage buildings or landmarks are located at the Pentridge site. These landmarks and heritage buildings have been retained and are incorporated in the Pentridge Village Masterplan which formed part of the Moreland Planning Scheme. The then Victorian Minister for Planning the honourable Mr Mathew Guy, approved the Masterplan in 2014.


Development plans may destroy the character of this heritage site

The National Trust has expressed ‘strong concerns’ about the nature of these masterplans with the complex interplay between maintaining historic divisions and the building of high density high rise buildings on the original prison site. The current developer Shayer Group has made significant commitments for example investing several million dollars to restore the roof of the old A Division building, restore the Seven Guard Towers and the rock breaking yards. These works are scheduled for 2018 completion. The Pentridge Masterplan calls for ‘up to 20 new buildings designed to compliment the existing heritage landmarks with numerous community spaces and public amenities such as an open piazza, forecourt areas and public open space including landscaped gardens’ (Hugh Linaker would be pleased or would he?)


To quote form the Pentridge Prison Heritage Report:

“The former HM Prison Pentridge is of historical and social significance as the largest prison complex constructed in Victoria in the nineteenth century, which operated as the central establishment in the wider prison system from the 1860s. The complex of buildings, which remains on site, demonstrates a number of phases in the development of the penal system, including the separate system, which dominated penology in Victoria in the nineteenth century. Pentridge is also significant in the history of child welfare in Victoria. It was the location of reformatories for both girls and boys established following the findings of the Stawell Royal Commission of 1870. The prison complex includes a purpose-built reformatory of 1875 (G Division), constructed as the Jika Reformatory for Protestant Girls, which operated between 1875 and 1893.”

“The principal elevation of the former Entrance Building at Pentridge Prison faces west and is of a medieval style with a crenellated parapet, a large pointed arched gateway and octagonal towers. The east elevation is of a simple classical style with a central pediment, quoining, and semi-circular and rectangular headed windows. The central pavilion and the corner turrets of the west elevation are of ashlar bluestone; the remainder is of rock-faced bluestone. A series of regularly spaced, narrow windows on the ground and first floors are located on either side of the central pavilion. Two octagonal towers with cross-shaped slit windows and corbelled crenellated parapets flank the entrance, one of which is surmounted by an octagonal bluestone clock tower.”

“The former HM Prison Pentridge is of aesthetic and architectural significance because of the monumental scale and austere Classical style of the remaining nineteenth century prison buildings. The complex of buildings and walls are important for their expression of the requirements of containment and order and are typical of other prison buildings constructed in Victoria in the 1850s and 60s. The grim and imposing bluestone walls and towers are important landmark features.”

Be you young or very old this was not a place to start or end your life. It was one of the cruelest, darkest places you might find yourself.


Ned Kelly

And as one very famous internee was said to say moments before he departed this mortal coil…

“Such is life”



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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Willsmere Estate – A grand building with a chequered past

“Willsmere – a fully gated residential complex. It’s tranquil, serene and friendly living at its best.”

A transformation indeed, from Melbourne’s most well known Lunatic Asylum – the Kew Lunatic Asylum, the estate now offers “luxury living with swimming pool, tennis courts, bowling, gym, BBQ areas/rotundas and function room”.

Its history is somewhat less salubrious. The magnificent Italianate style buildings were commissioned by the then Victorian Government in 1854. It became operational in 1871, situated on a prime site 100 feet above the level of the Yarra River on 400 acres. It was built to replace the overcrowded and inadequate Yarra Bend Asylum and the Carlton lunatic Asylum.

It reflected a change of attitude in Victorian times whereby such establishments were considered a place where the mentally challenged could best deal with their affliction with the comfort of a healthy location, light, airy, with good drainage in “fertile and agreeable country”.

“The site chosen is of primary importance. On it must depend the comfort, happiness and health of the inmates” said the then New South Wales Inspector of Asylums, Frederick Norton Manning in a report commissioned by the new Victorian Government of the Colony.

Designed by Architects GW Vivian and Frederick Kawerau of the Victorian Public Works Department, it was expected to be ‘elegant, beautiful yet substantial’, yet viewed as a ‘magnificent asylum for the insane’. It was believed entirely necessary to house and contain the ever expanding numbers of ‘idiots’, ‘lunatics’ and ‘inebriates’ troubling those in the new colony of Victoria.

With the use of ‘Haha’ walls and sumptuous, well planned and extensive landscaped grounds, it was intended that inmates and the public would sense the enlightened thinking of the colony’s forward thinking officialdom, recognising the benevolence and civilisation of its capital, Melbourne, and its generous kind people.


However this was somewhat juxtaposed on many fronts by the rather simple and somewhat sad perceptions of the times. Kew Cottages, originally attached to the Asylum, were opened in 1887. They were actually known as ‘The Idiot Ward’ then and later became a separate institution known as ‘Kew Idiot Asylum’ – it only admitted children. Children suffering developmental delay (mental retardation), Down’s syndrome and other mental health afflictions.

It wasn’t that hard to find yourself admitted in the first fifty years. According to the wisdom of the day you could gain entry if you were diagnosed as suffering from:

  • Delusional Insanity
  • Dementia (this covered Schizophrenia, Catatonia and severe depression)
  • Epilepsy
  • General Paralysis / paresis of the insane (whoa! what’s that?)
  • Idiocy (ditto)
  • Inebriation (No drinks for me!)
  • Melancholia
  • Puerperal Mania (Now known as postnatal depression)

This would occur on the request of a ‘friend, relative and acquaintance and confirmation by two medical practitioners in writing’ (Easy peasy).

A person wandering at large (being considered of unsound mind – a lunatic) upon the order of two justices could be removed to an asylum. Prisoners considered lunatics could be sent to an asylum upon the order of the Chief Secretary and then you could be a voluntary boarder from 1915 onwards.

The Asylum operated for over 120 years. Changing its name a number of times, from 1903 onwards ‘Asylums’ became known as ‘Hospitals for the Insane’.

Originally reduced to 340 acres with the sectioning off of Kew Cottages, the establishment was intended to be self sufficient. But over time with treatment methods changing and large land parcels being sectioned off for Kew Cottages, the straightening and widening of Princess St in 1939-40 (which also saw the gatehouses demolished) and the earlier Boulevard Construction in the 1930s seeing the Asylums river frontage being assumed by the Roads Department the original holding was greatly diminished.

58 acres were sectioned off in 1958 to establish Talbot Colony, now known as Royal Talbot, a rehabilitation facility for seriously injured patients of the Austin Hospital. The Guide Dog Association of Victoria was granted further Asylum land in 1962 and the creation of the Eastern Freeway cut a swathe through the remaining land in the 1970s.

The buildings housed barrack style accommodation and used the Colney Hatch Asylum in England as its template. It was still perceived to resemble a stockade or a gaol with Sunbury Mental Asylum considered a more humane advance in accommodation of the mentally ill. Oversize clay bricks were made on site from quarried local clay, then rendered with cement. A central Administration Block is three stories high topped with mansard roof and cupola. There are two two-storey wings to each side, one for each sex. Each had a four storied mansard roofed tower containing water tanks. The wards were surrounded by courtyards and verandahs. The dormitories had 4.3m ceilings, purpose built timber flooring and brightly coloured walls. Entry was via a grand carriageway, tree lined with an elliptical front driveway at the main entrance.

Architecturally the Mansard roofs and prominent towers make the building one of Melbourne’s most prominent, rivalling Government House five miles distant to the South.

The tree plantings were supervised by Baron Von Mueller, the original curator of the Botanical Gardens, and were meant to mimic an English country park. In 1913 Hugh Linaker again took responsibility (he was also charged with developing the Sunbury Asylum grounds as well as the grounds of other Lunatic Asylums in the state).

The Central Equity Corporation developed what became known as Kew Gardens project, a residential estate in 1995. The Walker Corporation have redeveloped Kew Cottages, however historic buildings have been set aside and maintained.


And although it may well now be gentrified with wonderful amenities, just stroll across the bridge at the Kew Boathouse to Fairfield’s Thomas Embling Hospital located on Yarra Bend Rd. There practically opposite the site of the old original Yarra Bend Asylum is situated today’s most secure psychiatric facility for the criminally insane. Rest easy up there at Willsmere – history remains bound to the area one way or another, even if it now only 8.4 hectares. Sleep well fair denizens of Kew. The past is never far away.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Looking East to Government House

This week we look across from the summit of what was then Emerald Hill to the nearest hilltop to the East. There we could see, back in 1876, the completed Italianate style mansion sitting atop of that far hilltop – Government House.

Government House had a sweeping and commanding view of Old Melbourne across the Yarra to the North-west, Richmond a little closer and to the West the thriving new estate of Emerald Hill. Even today if one looks from Bank St in South Melbourne directly East, you could see Government House – if not for the Shrine of Remembrance being placed directly in its line of sight.

Victoria was originally founded as the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. It became a separate colony in 1851.

Victoria’s first Government House was a prefabricated timber dwelling erected in what is now known Jolimont. ‘Latrobe’s Cottage’ as it came to be known was eventually transported to its current site on the corner of Dallas Brookes Drive and Birdwood Avenue. It was originally erected in Jolimont in 1839. Located between the Shrine of Remembrance and the Botanical Gardens now, the building still holds many of Latrobe’s personal possessions.

In 1854 Toorak House was leased by Sir Charles Hotham and became the second residence to be occupied by the Governor. It was built in 1849 by well known Melbourne Merchant James Jackson. The suburb of Toorak took its name from this house which is now owned by the Swedish Church. Mr Jackson is believed to have developed the name from local indigenous dialects from words meaning ‘black crow’ or ‘reedy swamp’ – hardly likely to please today’s well heeled ‘Toorak’ denizens. The design was, as was popular at the time, Italianate and its designer was said to be a Samuel Jackson. The property was home to 5 Victorian Governors up until 1874 when a new residence was leased – Bishopscourt in East Melbourne – until today’s Government House as we know it was completed in 1876.

‘Bishopscourt’ was and still is located in Clarendon St, East Melbourne and is largely of bluestone construction in a style or gothic architecture. Designed by Newson and Blackburn it was completed in 1853, and apart from its brief stint as Government House (1874-1876) it has always been the residence for Melbourne’s Anglican diocesan bishops and Archbishops. It has always been considered ‘ugly’ and most unattractive.

The area now known as ‘The Domain’ which includes the Domain Gardens, Government House and its grounds and the Botanical Gardens was ‘set aside’ in 1841. Construction of first rendition of Government House commenced in 1872 and as stated was completed in 1876.

The building was purpose designed for the Governor of Victoria – unlike the previous properties. Architects, William Wardell engaged JJ Clarke to supervise its design and construction. William Wardell Architects also designed St Patricks Cathedral (Catholic) and JJ Clarke designed the Treasury Building.

Reflecting prosperity and sophistication, the building was said to be the largest Government House in the then British Empire. With the economic boom provided by the Gold Rush of the times, the fledgling colony was transformed into a glamorous and breathtakingly beautiful city for the nineteenth century.

The Victorian Government House was the initial residence of Australia’s first governor General after Federation in 1901 up until 1930.


The grounds were originally landscaped as one parkland that included the Domain, the Botanical Gardens and Government House. Horticulturalist Joseph Sayce offered a design as a gift, which was accepted and commenced development of in 1873.

With meandering paths, curved carriageways and exotic plant varieties contributed by William Guilfoyle, the Director of the Botanical Gardens and curator of the project, the lush semi-tropical foliage and exotic plant varieties still exist today.

The building itself is immense and consists of the State Apartments, the Grand Ballroom, the State Drawing Room, the Conservatory, the State Dining Room and the State Hall.

The Ballroom holds upwards of 800 people, cocktail style. In it is placed the State Chair for the Monarch or Monarch’s representative. A mezzanine level to the South end of the Ballroom is designed to hold musicians playing at State functions. With its ornate ceiling of 27 separate sections and its original chandeliers converted from gas to electricity this is truly a Grand Ballroom.  The State Dining Room features Belgian etched glass windows. A Spanish mahogany table seats 54 guests, and with the high, very ornate ceiling this is a spectacular dining setting.

The State Hall completes this spectacular building with its unique barrel vaulted arched design. The Conservatory is an extension of the Drawing Room providing a view of the west lawn and the Melbourne City skyline. The State Drawing Room itself holds 100 people and is used for community and small award ceremonies.

Combined tours of Government House and Latrobe’s Cottage are undertaken on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am until 12.15pm. Tours are specifically for 30 plus people and must be booked through the National Trust website.

As can be seen all of ‘Old Melbourne’ is linked – in architecture, in vision and in prosperity. Walk the Domain and look across to Emerald Hill and the Yarra, to the MCG – 100 years ago your view would have been uninterrupted. Feel those passing you, who lived their lives here. This is a rich and rewarding history. And Government House is an incredible reflection of our prosperous yet frenetic past of early Victoria. Absorb it – this is Melbourne.

This is heritage.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.