Victoria Revisited. A Heritage Gem – Queenscliff.

When lockdown ends no doubt many of us will be looking to enjoy weekends away in regional Victoria. Once of the Heritage Gems within easy reach of Melbourne is the coastal haven that is Queenscliff. Once of Melbourne’s original seaside retreats the grandeur and beauty of this Victorian era township has been preserved and protected. Time for you to plan a visit and enjoy its splendour.

From May 10, 2019 a Balance article:

Take the time to visit one of Victoria’s oldest maritime townships – Queenscliff. For many years Queenscliff was the seaside location where Victorian era folk would ‘take the airs’.

It was serviced by the Queenscliff-Geelong Rail Link, after having travelled from Melbourne no doubt. The line was constructed in 1881 and Queenscliff Station itself was located on the foreshore of Swan Bay. The station is of a unique design having been specifically built to cater for the large numbers of tourists arriving and departing at ‘Peak Holiday’ times.

The holiday visitors often stayed at the major hotels, such as the Ozone, or alternatively at specially built Guest Houses such as Lathanstowe (where Anglican clergy and their families holidayed). The Ozone Hotel was built is 1881 (pictured below).

The Lathanstowe was built in 1882-83 (pictured below), the Queenscliff Hotel in 1887 and the Vue Grand Hotel also built in the 1880s.

Grand and imposing hotels were built to cater for the needs of both Melbourne’s gentry and high society, as well as wealthy graziers and miners from rural Victoria. A fine example, the Royal Hotel (pictured below) was built in the 1880s.

Queenscliff has many older, carefully restored homes as well as these hotels with many being included on the Victorian Heritage Register and enjoying National Trust protection.

Fort Queenscliff, the ‘other’ reason for its existence, was developed from 1806 onwards. Fort Queenscliff was the key component and played the commanding role in the defence of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The bay and its entrance was the most heavily defended British Port in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.

Take the time to visit ‘old’ Queenscliff. For many people it is the opportunity to step back in history and admire the many Italianate Victorian buildings and the infrastructure of the times that to some extent is still intact, very much a living heritage.

Heritage Advisory Service

The Heritage Advisor is an architect experienced in building conservation with detailed knowledge of buildings in the Borough. Advice is provided to the Council on proposals affecting the heritage precincts and buildings listed in the Queenscliffe Planning Scheme. This may concern precincts, individual buildings, trees or other elements in the streetscape.

The Heritage Advisor is available to consult with building owners, prospective purchasers, builders and designers. The advisor may be able to assist in the following ways:

  • Advising on colour schemes.
  • Locating early photographs of buildings to assist in restoration.
  • Designing building elements such as fences, verandas and suitable extensions and alterations in styles to match particular buildings.
  • Providing names of local suppliers or contractors for specialist building conservation work.
  • Identifying sources of funding for restoration works.
  • Recommending appropriate materials and finishes.

To make an appointment with the Borough’s Heritage Advisor please contact Customer Service on 03 5258 1377.

The Heritage Advisory Service is a partnership between state and local government and is funded jointly by the Borough of Queenscliffe and Heritage Victoria.

Source: queenscliffe.vic.gov.au

When considering Heritage precincts statewide, what an excellent program. If only other areas could adopt such a program.

Many buildings and property within the precinct are now heavily protected. The Victorian Government introduced the Queenscliff Heritage Advisory Service in 1980. At the same time the Queenscliff Heritage Restoration Fund was established to provide grants and low interest loans to assist property owners in carrying out approved restoration works.

Much of the direction taken in the Borough is the result of the urban conservation study undertaken in 1984. The current planning scheme for the Borough actually incorporates many of the findings of that study. It provides a good blueprint on the exacting standards required to achieve real heritage protection in such an area.

Today, if you as a property owner in the area contact the Advisory Service you can gain real assistance. From the Boroughs website here is a summary of what is offered.

Queenscliff – it’s a wonderful destination and a real inspiration to genuine aficionados of Victoria’s most interesting and inspiring heritage – be sure to include it in your travels.

For some such a visit may even prompt a purchase in the area. To facilitate renovations or restorations in the Queenscliff Heritage precinct, although there is the Heritage Advisory Service, you will need a qualified and experienced Heritage Architect to assist. With many of the town’s buildings individually Heritage Listed and the remaining areas all falling under defined Heritage Overlays there are definite requirements that must be considered and honoured with regard to such properties.

Andrew Fedorowicz (Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects) a passionate Heritage Architect with decades of experience and a superb portfolio of previous projects  is expert at revitalising and restoring true Heritage vision to such properties. Call now on 0418 341 443 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Andrew, Balance Architecture’s Principal Architect , at your convenience (for your interest and assistance there are Heritage grants available for restorations and some maintenance in the Queenscliff township). Alternatively leave your details here for a prompt reply.

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

Living History in Daylesford/Hepburn Springs. Schedule a Post-Lockdown Visit to this Delightful Heritage Area

Whilst still in lockdown it’s a good time to start planning those ‘away weekends’. Daylesford/Hepburn Springs offer a delightful weekend getaway with plenty of fresh air, long walks and just the right amount of ‘culture’. This week we repeat an earlier popular blog from January 2019 –

Daylesford – The Enigma of Gold, Culture and the Healing Waters

Take the time to drive to to this delightful destination, about an hourfrom Melbourne, post-lockdown. Swimming is available at both Daylesford Lake and Jubilee Lake. 

A favourite destination for many is the town of Daylesford, about 100km west of Melbourne. Gold was discovered on Wombat Flats, now deep below Daylesford Lake, in 1852. These alluvial deposits were the forerunner to deep quartz mining, which continued until the 1930s. Gold – the foundation of another heritage town, in this case providing the bounty that built the magnificent buildings of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

Daylesford these days is better known as the Spa capital of Australia. It has long been renowned as a place to ‘take the waters’ and now features the Hepburn Spa complex and walking trails with many springs to sample the mineral waters on your way. (The Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve is a 30 acre reserve surrounding the Spa Centre. It is heritage listed.)

It is also famous for the simply stunning buildings, its streetscape and the rolling hills, surrounding the extinct volcano – Wombat Hill, which overlooks the twin townships of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

In many ways it is a challenge to maintain the historical character of the precinct yet still facilitate the needs of the regular stream of tourists and the local population. From the early 1990s, the local Hepburn Shire Council has received royalties on all mineral waters sold on to beverage companies in Australia. The majority is bottled in Melbourne.

The funding then available has been used to develop the new Spa complex and other tourist related facilities.

The Hepburn Springs Bathhouse was first opened to the public in 1895 providing ‘social bathing’. The Hepburn architecture is predominantly Edwardian due to the bushfires in 1906 which effectively destroyed the original township, which was predominantly Victorian architecture as in nearby Daylesford.

In 1864, the local population determined to protect the mineral springs from mining. The migrant populations from Italy, Germany and England rated the mineral waters ‘more valuable than gold’. A bathhouse was constructed in the 1890s. It has been remodelled several times. It was mainly the efforts of the ‘Swiss Italians’ that saved the springs for posterity.

The most recent remodelling was completed in 2008. From what was effectively a rundown, red brick facility, a mix of Federation, Edwardian and other influences, constructed in the early part of the twentieth century, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is now housed in a thoroughly modern complex, offering hydrotherapy, massage and beauty therapy. It is a tasteful extension and renovation that acknowledge the past yet provides the comforts of the present. The new development cost over $13 million.

For this week the other location to be visited is ‘The Convent Gallery’ or to give it its proper title ‘The Holy Cross Presentation Convent’.

Purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s as a presbytery for the local priest, it was originally built back in the 1860s as a private residence for the Gold Warden. In 1872 it was purchased by a successful Irish Pioneer, Mr. John Gillroy. Over the next decade Mr. Gilroy expanded the property with many grand extensions, likely including the prominent tower depicted here. The tower and extensions gave the property a ‘castle like’ appearance. It’s very likely the reason the local townsfolk dubbed the grand edifice Blarney Castle. 

From the 1890s, the church expanded the complex to accommodate nuns and boarders – opening in 1892. A chapel was added in 1904 with building continuing through until 1927, including the new North Wing and other additions. The accommodation wing was three storeys with an attic. No heating was provided and with massive costs in upkeep, the nuns moving to alternative accommodation, by the late 1970s the building and its gardens were derelict and neglected.

In 1988, it was purchased by a well-known local artist and ceramicist Tina Banitska. It was reopened on March 31st 1991 as the ‘Convent Gallery’. Since then there have been further rounds of renovation to the buildings and grounds that add new life to the original grandeur. These include two major glass fronted function rooms, a penthouse suite and the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’.

Externally the building retains its strong Victorian architectural features. Sitting high on the slopes of Wombat Hill, it provides panoramic views to the north and west of Daylesford town and Hepburn Springs. It houses several individual Galleries, a large retail area, a café, the two function rooms and the penthouse suite. It also retains four tiny ‘nun’s cells’ – the original nun’s bedrooms. Perhaps a reflection on the very frugal and harsh past.

It is a real celebration of Art History and Culture. We thoroughly recommend a quiet drink in the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’ and a toast to the former Archbishop of the Melbourne Diocese, Archbishop Carr. He envisioned the place to become ‘a source of light and edification’ back in 1891. It may well have taken over a hundred years to materialise, but the Convent Gallery is certainly that now and well worth a visit.

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