/www/asatourscomau_679/public/wp-content/themes/asatours/single-tour.php

From Seafarers to Pastoralists: Exploring the Coastal & Volcanic Landscapes of Victoria’s Western District – October 2021

Status: open

18 Oct – 26 Oct 2021

Overview

From Seafarers to Pastoralists: Exploring the Coastal & Volcanic Landscapes of Victoria’s Western District – October 2021
Tour Highlights

Nineteenth-century Scottish ‘pastoralists’ in Western Victoria were responsible for one of the most extraordinary episodes in Australian architectural history, the ‘Western District homestead’, which has almost legendary status in Victoria. In a relatively short space of time, from the 1840s to the 1880s, they commissioned hundreds of homesteads, station outbuildings and associated structures to house their burgeoning enterprises. Through these settlements they produced a tight network of family, community and business interests extending from one end of the District to the other and they transformed themselves from economic adventurers into a powerful social and political elite.

Harriet Edquist, ‘The Architectural Legacy of the Scots in the Western District of Victoria, Australia’, Architectural Heritage XXIV (2013): 67–85

  • Travel with Christine Reid, an internationally recognised garden writer and historian who has a long association with the Western District.
  • Learn about architectural legacy of the Scots in the Western District from our guest lecturer, Emeritus Professor Harriet Edquist AM, who will be joining the tour for the first 6 days. Harriet has researched the European settlement of the Western District for over two decades, revealing the impact of the Scottish diaspora, the role of the whaling industry in the development of colonial architecture and the dynastic ambitions of settlers such as the Learmonth family.
  • Follow in the footsteps of explorer Major Thomas Mitchell and colonial artist, Eugene von Guérard whose work we view in the Geelong and Warrnambool art galleries.
  • View the special exhibition ‘Frederick McCubbin – Whisperings in wattle bough‘, which acknowledges the inspiration McCubbin took from the poetry of Adam Lindsay Gordon, the unique beauty of the Australian bush and the rich stories that emerge from it.
  • Learn about artists, Thomas Clark, Nicholas Chevalier, Louis Buvelot and Robert Dowling, who were commissioned to paint properties in the area. We visit Merrang Station, the location of Robert Dowling’s painting of Mrs Adolphus Sceales with Black Jimmie, and Yarram Park, where Arthur Streeton stayed and painted his famous versions of Land of the Golden Fleece.
  • Visit a number of private heritage homesteads many of which feature historic gardens including Dalvui designed by William Guilfoyle, and Ardgartan by Edna Walling.
  • Visit Toora West and Gnotuk House, whose magnificent gardens are featured in Christine Reid’s book ‘Gardens on the Edge‘.
  • Explore the Henty Country and enjoy lunch at Talisker Homestead formerly part of the ‘Merino Downs Estate’ belonging to Francis Henty.
  • Join a private ranger-led tour of the Point Danger Gannet Rookery and enjoy a talk by world-renowned artist, Richard Weatherly author of A Brush with Birds.
  • Learn about whalers, shipwrecks and seafarers as we journey along the coast from Cape Bridgewater to Warrnambool.
  • Travel the Henty Country and visit a number of pastoral stations including Warrock Homestead, arguably Victoria’s most significant historical settlement; Nareen Station former home to the nation’s 22nd prime minister, the late Malcolm Fraser; and Murndal whose garden is designed in the 18th-century English landscape style.
  • Explore the world of pastoralist, Niel Black, one of the chief protagonists of Margaret Kiddle’s famous history, Men of Yesterday, A Social History of the Western District of Victoria, 1834-1890.
  • Along the way enjoy fine food, wine and hospitality of the region.

This tour is strictly limited to 20 participants

Overnight Hamilton (3 nights) • Portland (2 nights) • Warrnambool (3 nights)

Itinerary

Itinerary

The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. At the time of publication (December 2020) most visits had been confirmed. While several are accessible to the public, others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure in 2021.

The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Hamilton – 3 nights

Day 1: Monday 18 October, Melbourne – Geelong – Camperdown – Hamilton
  • Geelong Art Gallery: Introduction to Eugene von Guérard and his travels through the Western District
  • Geelong Art Gallery Special Exhibition: ‘Frederick McCubbin – Whisperings in wattle bough
  • Private visit to a Pastoral Homestead, Camperdown: Welcome Lunch and tour of homestead, museum and historic outbuildings

We board our private coach at a designated meeting point in Melbourne and drive to Geelong. On arrival we visit the Geelong Art Gallery to view and discuss painted images of Victoria and in particular, the Western District. We shall focus upon two works by Eugene von Guérard, View of Geelong (1856) and View from Fritz Wilhelmberg, Herne Hill, Geelong (Mr Levien’s hut on the Barwon: 1860), to explore his painterly reaction to the parts of Victoria we visit on our tour. We also view Arthur Streeton’s Ocean Blue, Lorne (1920) to discuss the role of the Heidelberg School in exploring the Victorian landscape and creating Australian identity; Streeton was born in Duneed, between Geelong and Torquay. There is also a fascinating portrait of Mrs Margaret McArthur of Meningoort painted by Robert Dowling in 1856-1857. Following his apprenticeship in saddlery in 1850 Dowling left this career and moved to Geelong where he secured commissions from Western District pastoralists which included services as a professional portrait painter. During the tour we visit a number of homesteads where he painted portraits including Mrs Adolphus Sceales  at Merrang Station.

We also view the exhibition ‘Frederick McCubbin – Whisperings in wattle boughs’ which “acknowledges the inspiration McCubbin took from the poetry of Adam Lindsay Gordon, the unique beauty of the Australian bush and the rich stories that emerge from it.” The exhibition, which celebrates the 125th anniversary of when the first major work entered the collection in 1900: Frederick McCubbin’s, A Bush Burial (1890), and brings together “additional paintings that elaborate the artist’s unending fascination with the colour and nature of the bush, sourced from national and state institutions, regional Victorian galleries and private collections”.

From Geelong, we shall drive to a private pastoral homestead located in the Camperdown district. The property’s aesthetic significance is enhanced by the fact that it was painted by Eugene von Guérard in 1861. Two squatters, Cornishman Nicholas Cole and Scot Peter McArthur, established one of Victoria’s sheep runs in November, 1839. They established a claim to several thousand acres. After three years they split the partnership into two portions with Cole taking the 21,000 northern portion and McArthur took up the 13,000 southern portion. Their descendants remain on both properties, West Cloven Hills and Meningoort.  Peter McArthur built a substantial blue stone house and outbuildings in 1851 and in 1886 Melbourne architect, Charles D’Ebro (1850-1920), integrated the original residence into a large Italianate style homestead constructed of basalt with an encircling iron verandah. The homestead has been meticulously maintained in near original 1880s condition externally. Its interior has been sensitively enhanced. Our visit will include a welcome lunch followed by a tour of the homestead, the garden and historic buildings which include a museum, woolshed, coach and racing stables. Note: ASA requests all group members to respect the privacy of the homestead owners. Photography will not be permitted during this visit and we kindly ask that all group members leave their phones and cameras on the coach.

Following this visit we journey west to Hamilton, often referred to as the ‘Wool capital of the world’, which will be our base for the next two days. A light dinner will be served at the hotel. (Overnight Hamilton) LD

Day 2: Tuesday 19 October, Hamilton – Wickliffe – Bornes Hill – Willaura – Tarrington – Hamilton

Today we visit three fine homesteads. We first drive east to Wickliffe where we explore Narrapumelap Homestead, sited on a station settled by a Scottish pastoralist and benefactor, John Dixon Wyselaskie (1818–1883) in 1840. Geelong architects, Alexander Davidson and George Henderson, designed this (surviving) picturesque Gothic Revival, single storied bluestone homestead, which was constructed between 1873 and 1878. This grand house has an asymmetrical plan dominated by a central projecting gabled wing, turret and tower. Its front is framed by bow and bay windows and it has a cast iron veranda. Its eclectic detailing is profuse. The house and its gardens, both of which we shall explore, have been magnificently restored.

After our visit and morning tea at Narrapumlap, we drive to Toora West where we enjoy lunch and tour its glorious Victorian country garden. The garden is structured around eight grand oak trees, with a plenitude of flowers that change its dominant colours with the seasons. Charles and Cass Kimpton have developed this rich garden from the bare paddocks they found when they moved here in 1969. The location of their garden is magnificent as it is set against a deep background of the Grampians, of Mount William, Mount Sturgeon and Mount Abrupt, which are visually ‘captured’ to lend drama to their creation.

In the afternoon we drive to Willaura to visit Yarram Park, one of Victoria’s largest working sheep and cattle stations that has been in the hands of the Baillieu family since 1948. Originally called “Yarram Yarram”, this property was pioneered between 1844 and 1852 by Edward Parker and Robert Muirhead; it is interesting that Muirhead commissioned a landscape of the Grampians and the Victoria Ranges from Mount Rouse by Eugene von Guérard (1861); the painting was thought lost until found recently in Wiltshire. Parker and Muirhead were forced by the government to relinquish their 12,900 hectares in 1860 and in 1864 it was sold to the Robertson brothers, who built the surviving homestead. It was sold again in 1908 and in 1914. In 1948, John Baillieu’s Western District Pastoral Company bought it. The homestead was originally constructed from handmade bricks sourced from material in the property’s creek bed; it has since been rendered. The only other buildings on Yarram Park at that time were an overseer’s cottage, and the shearers quarters, all of which were also constructed from handmade bricks. Yarram Park is also the setting of Sir Arthur Streeton’s versions of the famous Land of the Golden Fleece (NGV; NGA; Private Club, Sydney). Streeton painted the works at Yarram Park during a visit there.

We next drive to Pierrepoint Wines which celebrates the food and wine of the Henty Region. Here we enjoy a light dinner and a wine tasting. (Overnight Hamilton) BLD

Day 3: Hamilton – Coleraine – Nareen – Warrock – Hamilton

We begin today by visiting two fine waterfalls, the Nigretta and Wannon Falls. The Wannon Falls were immensely popular with the artists of the day, painted by S. T. Gill, Nicholas Chevalier, Eugéne von Guerard, Louis Buvelot, and several times by Thomas Clark. After morning coffee at the Catching Pen café, we visit Nareen Station.

Nareen is located on the Dundas Plateau in rolling red-gum country, 350 metres above sea level. It was first settled in the 1840s by Charles Lambert Swanston and Edward Willis as part of the larger squatting run, Koolomurt; it occupied the traditional lands of the Jardwadjali people. The property was separated from Koolomurt in 1886 by early Victorian grazier and parliamentarian, James Graham (1819–1898). It then changed hands many times until purchased by the Fraser family in 1946. Already well-known in the wool industry for its fine-wool Merino flock, Nareen became home to the nation’s 22nd prime minister, the late Malcolm Fraser. Semi-retired gardener Les Potter, who has lived at Nareen since 1973, worked with Tamie Fraser on the lush homestead gardens. Nareen is particularly beautiful in spring when the country is green and the camellias and roses are in bloom. Gordon and Alexandra Dickinson and their family purchased Nareen Station in 1996. They “pride ourselves in being environmentally responsible – planting trees every year for stock and landcare. We produce healthy animals in a low stress grazing environment.”

We next drive to Warrock Homestead, an extraordinary complex of more than 30 heritage classified buildings dating back to 1843, when Scottish reformist and philanthropist George Robertson established a pastoral property here; it has been owned by the same family for over 150 years. Originally comprising approximately 57, mostly timber, buildings, the complex, resembling a small village, included a main homestead, workers’ accommodation, woolshed, stables and carriage house. These, and a blacksmith shop, storerooms, dairy workshops made the complex almost self-sufficient. The property’s kennels are famous as home to the first Australian ‘Kelpie’. The complex, which conforms closely to the picturesque farm layout espoused by British theorists such as J. C. Loudon (1783–1843), features mature River Red Gums and a landscape garden with significant (including exotic) 19th-century plantings; it has the earliest private glass greenhouse constructed in Australia. The property retains thousands of household objects and original farm equipment and building tools. (Overnight Hamilton) BLD

Portland – 2 nights

Day 4: Thursday 21 October, Hamilton – Tahara – Merino – Grassdale – Point Danger – Portland

We begin this morning visiting Murndal set at the heart of a pastoral run formerly known as ‘Spring Valley’, located on the Wannon River near Merino. The land was taken up in 1838 by Irish pastoralist Samuel Pratt Winter, whose homestead grew gradually from 1845. The original two room stone cottage (c. 1845-50) survives as the library at the centre of the house. The original homestead was increased in size firstly by the bluestone west wing and verandas added to the original cottage in 1856, and then in 1875 by the substantial two storey bluestone east wing incorporating the dining room. In 1906 architects Uusher and Kemp designed charming Elizabethan Revival extensions over the central single storey; the unity of the house was reinforced by the integration of house and station buildings around a rear courtyard. Surviving outbuildings include a two-storey bluestone cool room and a men’s hut, carpenter’s shop and laundry, all built of bricks made on the station. Five generations of the influential Winter Cooke family have occupied the house.

Murndal homestead and station buildings are surrounded by a well-maintained English landscape garden, begun around 1870 in the style of Humphry Repton, with a series of lakes as a feature. A large English Oak known as the ‘Cowthorp Oak’ was planted in 1886 from a seedling of the famous Cowthorp Oak in Yorkshire, mentioned in the Doomsday Book and regarded as the world’s oldest English Oak. A rare Palestine Oak, Quercus calliprinos, was planted in 1916 from acorns collected by Captain William L Winter-Cooke (1892–1979) at Gallipoli.

In early August 1860 the Melbourne Herald reported that ‘Mr Clark, the artist, has just completed two very excellent pictures: one is a sketch of Mr. Winter’s station, in the Portland district, and the other the falls at the Wannon’. Thomas Clark is something of a legendary figure in late colonial art, and remembered as the highly respected teacher of Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin.

From Murndal we travel through ‘Henty Country’. The Henty family were the first Europeans to settle within the Port Phillip district (Victoria). James, Stephen and John Henty sailed to Western Australia in 1829. The rest of their family, led by their father, Thomas Henty, a successful sheep breeder, sailed to Tasmania in 1832. Edward Henty and his brother Francis arrived at Portland Bay in 1834. Their ship, the Thistle, carried bullocks, cows and pigs, along with baskets of tobacco, flour and two ‘casks’ of beef and two of pork. A month later, they brought Victoria’s first Merino sheep to Portland. Stephen Henty, who had remained in Western Australia, joined Edward and Francis in Portland in 1836.

The brothers’ decision to settle in Portland was illegal; at this time the British government forbade settlement that was too far from Sydney. They established a small farm and began whaling at Portland Bay, but moved inland when Major Thomas Mitchell (1792–1855) told them about fertile farming land surrounding the Wannon River. By 1839 the Hentys possessed over 30,000 sheep and 500 head of cattle. The Henty run was called ‘Merino Downs’.

A light lunch will be provided during our visit to Talisker Homestead located just outside the town of Merino. The homestead was built for the grazier, Alexander Magnus McLeod (1846-1910) and his wife Caroline in 1901. The property was a sub-division of ‘Merino Downs’. After Francis Henty’s death, ‘Merino Downs’ was divided into three estates, one for each of his three daughters, Louisa, Caroline and Alice. Caroline Henty (1849-1914) became the owner of Talisker and married A.M. McLeod. They lived together at Talisker from 1901 until his death in 1910. The single-storey homestead, which was designed by Melbourne Architect Charles d’Ebro (1850-1920), is in the Federation style. Its profile is dominated by a highly inventive central three-storey tower graced with an Elizabethan style window and a double curved roof. The house, constructed from ‘Ballarat black’ with red brick bands, has a long, timber posted front verandah and fine gables with excellent Edwardian decoration; the house has a ‘U’ shaped plan. Within, this large, five-bedroom house, has clearly separated public, private and working areas. It has coloured leadlight windows, fine timber work, and even a fascinating Art Nouveau-inspired wall painting.

This afternoon we visit Ardgartan, Grassdale, with a garden retaining the design by Edna Walling (1895–1973); the Youngman family has maintained many of Walling’s original ideas for over 80 years. The name ‘Ardgartan’ derives from the Gaelic, meaning ‘high garden’ or ‘corn on the hill’. Harry and Min Youngman have maintained Edna Walling’s  garden plans, designed to complement the 1857 property, as well as many of her ‘signature plants’, including silver birches, Prunus and aspens. Cotoneaster surrounds the garden while camellias are shaded by the house. One classic Edna Walling ‘trademark’ element is a beautifully articulated curved stone wall made from rocks sourced on the property; Walling believed that the stone should be sourced locally, to avoid jarring with the landscape. In the less formal part of the garden, a pretty woodland provides shelter from the cold south-westerly winds.

Our final visit for the day is to the Point Danger Gannet Colony near Portland, which we explore with a local ranger. Here we may view Australia’s only mainland rookery of Australasian Gannets; approximately 300 pairs nest and raise their young from July to April.

We spend 2 nights based in Portland, the major exporting centre for the produce of south-western Victoria and south-eastern South Australia – principally wool and grain. From 1819 the bay at Portland was used by whalers and sealers. A whaling factory was established in 1833 which employed seasonal whalers, factory hands, shipwrights, sailmakers, coopers, blacksmiths, bricklayers and other artisans. Thomas Mitchell visited Portland Bay in August 1836. He was amazed to find the settlement in existence. Inspired by Mitchell’s reports of good land to the north of Portland, the Henty family moved inland in 1837. The port became the point of export for their produce. (Overnight Portland) BLD

Day 5: Friday 22 October, Portland – Budj Bim National Park – Cape Bridgewater – Portland
  • Budj Bim Cultural Landscape (to be confirmed March 2021)
  • Afternoon tea at the Bridgewater Bay Café
  • Excursion by zodiac to Cape Bridgewater to view colony of Australian and Long Nose Fur Seals (weather permitting)
  • Blowholes Lookout & Petrified Forest, Cape Bridgewater
  • Dinner at local restaurant, Portland

We drive north-west to World Heritage listed Budj Bim (formerly Mount Eccles  National Park, with lush bushland, a tranquil crater lake, lava canals and caves; Budj Bim in local language means ‘High Head’). The Eccles volcanic landform was formed by the explosion of Mount Eccles c. 27,000 – 3,000 years ago. The National Park, part of traditional Gunditjmara country, constitutes a magnificent Aboriginal cultural landscape, a highlight of which is the former Lake Condah Mission with indigenous eel traps, demonstrating that local traditional people were masters of a sophisticated technology. The people who are guardians of Lake Condah are the Kerrup-Jmara (people of the water / lake) part of the Gunditjamara population. They have remained custodians of the Lake until today, despite repeated past attempts to dispossess them; across this stony landscape they fought encroaching settlers during the 1840s so-called ‘Eumeralla Wars’. Lake Condah Mission was established at a traditional meeting place on Kerrup-Jmara land. The aforementioned, sophisticated, basket-like eel traps were, and still are, woven by female elders; these, the local water management, and remains of permanent dwelling, stand as ample proof that the first Australians were far more technologically advanced than was once thought.

We shall enjoy a picnic lunch before travelling to the beautiful and secluded Cape Bridgewater, considered the second most important coastline in Victoria, after the ‘Twelve Apostles’, along the Great Ocean Road. The bay and adjacent Cape form a partially submerged volcanic caldera. The Cape boasts the highest coastal cliff in Victoria from where southern right whales may be observed during winter and spring, a large blowhole and karst solution pipes.

The area was settled by the Henty family in the 1860s who had settled in nearby Portland in 1834. At the time, Cape Bridgewater was one of the Henty’s six stations in the district. However, the pastures were not good  and small profits and production led the Henty’s to move their Bridgewater operation further north. During an expedition to South Australia in 1857 Eugene von Guérard made a number of sketches of the area including Fresh water lake near the coast between the mouth of the Glenelg and Cape Bridgewater and Sandy Coast from the mouth of the Glenelg to Cape Bridgewater, both currently held at the State Library of NSW.

Following afternoon tea at the Bridgwater Bay Café, and weather permitting, there will be an optional cruise (by zodiac) to Seal Point which is the largest mainland group of seals in Australia, home to over 2500 Australian and Long Nose Fur Seals.

There will also be an optional visit to view the Blowholes Lookout and the Petrified Forest. From the Blowholes carpark it is a short 50m walk to the Blowholes Lookout where you may view the blowholes formed from the lava flows of an extinct volcano. The black basalt and purple scorpia rock create spectacular spouts of sea spray during the high seas and the lookout provides panoramic views of the ocean and Discovery Bay with its brilliant white sand dunes. From the Lookout you can take a 10 minute walk along a flat path to the petrified forest formed when a stand of Moonah trees was buried under drifting sand. An outer shell of sandstone formed with moisture and the enveloped trees rotted away. Winds have eroded these structures leaving petrified remains up to 1.5 metres in height.  From the Petrified Forest it is a short walk back to the coach.

In the late afternoon we return to Portland where we dine together at a local restaurant. (Overnight Portland) BLD

Warrnambool – 3 nights

Day 6: Saturday 23 October, Portland – Port Fairy – Tower Hill – Warrnambool
  • Walk to the Griffiths Island Lighthouse, Port Fairy
  • Von Guérard Lookout, Tower Hill
  • Warrnambool Art Museum incl. the View of Tower Hill 1855
  • Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, Warrnambool

We check-out from our Portland accommodation and drive east to Port Fairy and, ultimately, Warrnambool; today we explore the maritime history of what was one of the most treacherous coastlines in the world. Our first visit is to the Port Fairy Lighthouse, built in 1859 on Griffith Island. The light rises 12.5 metres above the high watermark and is visible to seaward some 20 kilometres. During south-westerly gales huge seas crash onto the area, so in the 19th-century a causeway and wall were built to provide safe access to the light. The lighthouse originally used an oil lamp and its whole optical system rotated in order to flash the identification code. Solar power took over in 1987, a wind generator backup being added in June 1996. With each course of blocks in the lighthouse’s wall, a long slab was inserted to protrude towards the centre of the tower creating a staircase that was therefore structurally part of the wall.

After morning tea at historic Port Fairy, originally a whaling port and a major point of entry for immigrants and trading in Victoria last century, we drive west to Warrnambool via the Von Guérard Lookout. This lookout is famous as the viewpoint which Eugene von Guérard chose for his famous painting View of Tower Hill (1855). This painting, which depicts the volcano crater lake with inset scoria cones, surrounded by native vegetation, is significant not only as a fine example of the artist’s oeuvre but also because it is so meticulous in depicting plant species that it has been used to bring the vegetation of Tower Hill back to its original state; from the painting botanists have identified grass and ferns on the island, wattles, sheoaks, banksias on the cones and reeds and tussocks in the marshes. We shall view this painting at the Warrnambool Art Gallery as well as other works including the very important modernist collection developed by local clothes manufacturer Sir Fletcher Jones O.B.E.

We also visit the Flagstaff Hill Museum and Village which holds Australia’s most significant shipwreck artefact collection. The museum’s greatest treasure is a priceless Minton statue, the Loch Ard Peacock. Now valued at $4,000,000, the Peacock was being transported in 1878 to Melbourne aboard the Loch Ard for display at Melbourne’s Great International Exhibition of 1880. The peacock was washed ashore two days after the Loch Ard wreck.

We will be based for the next 3 nights in Warrnambool. The port of Warrnambool played a crucial role in the export of Western District wool, but also in the manufacture of woollen clothing, through the famous local Fletcher Jones woollen mill and factory. Warrnambool Bay was first documented by the French explorer, cartographer, naturalist and hydrographer Nicholas Baudin in 1802. From the 1830s whalers and sealers occasionally landed there. In 1836, the explorer Major Mitchell encountered the Henty brothers, who had sailed from Van Dieman’s Land, on the town’s site. Early settlers in the late 1830s included the Bolden and Allan brothers, Thomas Manifold, Henry Foster and Thomas Strong. Superintendent (later lieutenant governor) LaTrobe allocated 250 acres for the town, which took the name ‘Warrnambool’ from a nearby mount. Warrnambool prospered, especially in the 1880s when local architects designed much of its surviving architecture. By 1890 the port, soon to be linked to Melbourne by rail, gained an important breakwater to protect shipping. Its role as a port and agricultural centre was augmented by industries such as a nearby Nestles factory, the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory, and, after World War II the aforementioned Fletcher Jones factory; its eponymous founder contributed an important art collection, named after him, to the Warrnambool Art Gallery.(Overnight Warrnambool) BD

Day 7: Sunday 24 October, Warrnambool – Hexham – Warrnambool
  • Private garden (details to be confirmed)
  • Coomete, Hexham
  • Merrang, Hexham incl. talk by renowned bird artist, Richard Weatherly OAM

This morning we drive first to Hexham and to a nearby homestead (details to be confirmed).

We next visit and enjoy lunch at Coomete which was selected in 1860 and has never been sold. It was owned by William Bayles and leased to August Bostock from late 1862 until the mid-1890s when the Bayles family took up residence. Extensions designed by Melbourne architects Klingender and Alsop were added to the property in 1910. While Melbourne-born Jack Roxburgh is a fifth generation of his family to own the 1600-hectare farm, he’s the first to live on it and manage it full time.

After lunch, we visit opulent, National Trust listed Merrang property at Hexham.  The early Australian colonial artist Robert Hawker Dowling (1827–1886) painted arguably his most significant painting, Mrs Adolphus Sceales with Black Jimmie on Merrang Station (National Gallery of Australia) at Merrang in 1856.

This run was established in 1839 and bought in 1856 by Scottish settler, Robert Hood, who extended the property by more than 8,900 hectares. In 1859 Hood built a four-room stone cottage from which the present homestead developed. A substantial single storey Italianate style extension with an impressive Ionic entrance portico was begun in 1865. In 1875, the timber-posted verandah of the old cottage was removed and a new cast iron return verandah was erected, that unified the 1859 and 1865 sections of the house. A gatekeeper’s lodge and station outbuildings were also erected in 1875 to a design by Warrnambool architect Andrew Kerr.

The homestead sits high on a rise atop a ha-ha wall that keeps livestock out while allowing picturesque views over a billabong beside the Hopkins River, which flows through the property. The house is surrounded by about .8 hectares of park-like gardens and an Elm grove bordered by stone fences. The bluestone gatekeepers’ cottage, a three-bedroom manager’s residence, six-stand woolshed, bluestone stables, an early cookhouse for workers and the Hood family cemetery are among the property’s highlights. A fire in 1917 reduced the size of the huge original bluestone stables.

Following our tour of Merrang we enjoy a talk by environmentalist and renowned bird artist, Richard Weatherly OAM, who spent his childhood on the sheep and cattle station at Connewarran, Mortlake, founded by his great grandfather.

We return to Warrnambool for a group evening meal at the award-winning restaurant, Pippies-by-the Bay. (Overnight Lady Bay Resort, Warrnambool) BLD

Day 8: Warrnambool – Gnotuk – Dalvui – Noorat – Mortlake – Warrnambool
  • Gnotuk House (to be confirmed)
  • Dalvui: Heritage Gardens designed by William Guilfoyle
  • Niel Black Memorial Presbyterian Church
  • Alan Marshall Walking Track to view the dry crater
  • Woolongoon Historic Garden, Mortlake

Today we visit a number of sites associated with one of the Western District’s most famous pioneers, Niel Black.

Alun and Fiona Morris have owned Gnotuk since 1998 and are deeply committed to restoring the house and its gardens, on the banks of Lake Gnotuk. The first, 1860s, plantings at Gnotuk were on the site of the original stone farmhouse. At that time the 7,700-acre property occupied the eastern edge of the vast Glenormiston sheep run of Niel Black (1839–1880). His nephew Archibald built the first ‘Gnotuk’. According to Niel Black’s diary, the early garden was laid out in July 1862 by Daniel Bunce, a self-taught botanist and first curator of the Botanic Gardens at Geelong. Its oldest trees include Illawarra Flame trees, Moreton Bay Figs, Norfolk Island Pines, a New Zealand kauri, a Norfolk Island Hibiscus Tree and an Italian Cypress. The Lake Gnotuk and its companion Lake Bullen Merri, were the subject of several outstanding painting by Eugene von Guérard including Basin Banks About Twenty Miles South of Mount Elephant painted in 1857 and The Basin Banks, near Camperdown, also painted in 1857 and currently held at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

We explore and enjoy lunch at magnificent Federation style Dalvui House, Terang, a formidable mansion inherited in 1880 by son of pastoralist Niel Black, also called Niel. It is surrounded by a beautiful heritage garden of 1898 originally designed for Black by William Guilfoyle (1840–1912). Guilfoyle designed the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, a number of provincial botanical gardens, and a several private gardens. Dalvui is regarded as one of Australia’s most important private gardens, with lush lawns beneath spectacular mature trees, and curved borders filled with a choice selection of shrubs, perennials and bulbs. It has rockeries and ponds. More recent plantings add further interest to Guilfoyle’s original 1898 design, the characteristics of which include paths that disappear behind trees, garden beds bordered by hedges and other plants, and the use of a variety of different colours and foliage.

The residence itself was designed in 1907 by Melbourne architects Beverley Ussher and Henry Kemp. Their design featured a strong diagonal emphasis focussed on a polygonal candle-snuffer roof. Panels of vertical hanging tiles complement a magnificent Tudor bay window to the garden with banked Gothic lights; stone corbels carry the house’s protruding upper façade. It presents a powerful picturesque ensemble along with Guilfoyle’s garden and the nearby lake. The mansion’s interior features a grand, sweeping staircase, Jacobean plaster ceilings, Art Nouveau detailing and a splendid lift car with a coloured glass roof light.

This afternoon we visit St Andrews, the fine Niel Black Memorial Presbyterian Church. It was built in memory of the Hon. Niel Black (1804–1880) by his widow and sons in 1883; it functioned as a village church for the Black family, their servants, and the local farming community, having replaced a timber church that was removed to Glenormiston. The church was designed by architect John Honeyman of Glasgow and erected under the supervision of Alexander Hamilton of Colac. This church is a small single nave bluestone building with a semi-circular apse, a belfry on the eastern elevation and an attractive wooden northern porch. Although Presbyterian, its interior layout is more like that of an Anglican church with a centre aisle with an elevated pulpit on one side and a central communion table, rather than a plain Scottish non-conformist free church whose central focus was the pulpit. It also has a grand period organ atypical for Nonconformist churches of the time.

We next take the new Alan Marshall Memorial Track, dedicated as its name suggests, to the famous local author of I Can Jump Puddles, to view the Mount Noorat crater, one of the best-preserved volcanic craters in Australia. From here, we can view an extensive panorama of the volcanic cones rising from the plain. Noorat’s Eve Black donated the land, significant for both its natural and Indigenous history, to accord with the wishes of her late husband, Niel.

Our final visit today is to magnificent Woolongoon in Mortlake. The Weatherly family have owned Woolongoon since 1895. We shall explore its lovely garden with many flowers and majestic old trees. The garden even has flowering cherries, brought from Japan when the present owner’s grandparents married in 1911. There are 100-year-old plantings of exotic shrubs, historic farm buildings and farm and garden implements. The present garden developed over 115 years from that surrounding the first small house; the circular lawn in front of the present mansion survives from this first garden. There is a vegetable garden, and shrubberies and many narrow winding paths. (Overnight Warrnambool) BLD

Day 9: Tuesday 26 October, Warrnambool – Kolora – Darlington – Melbourne
  • Wooriwyrite Hometead
  • Stoney Point Homestead incl. farewell lunch

Today we return to Melbourne via two magnificent properties. Wooriwyrite Station has an Italianate homestead built for Thomas Shaw in 1883 by architect Alexander Hamilton of Colac. The Leader newspaper (1886) described the homestead ‘as comfortable a country house as one could wish to live in’. It continued: ‘It stands on a small eminence above the Mount Emu Creek and commands a fairly extensive view… Regarded from an architectural standpoint, Wooriwyrite House is not elaborate or ornate, being plain in design, though substantial in build. The material is bluestone, and the building is two-story, having a verandah running around three sides of it. Inside, the house is a combination of comfort and convenience with elegance and refinement. Gas made on the premises, electric bells, furniture as artistic as it is accommodating, and beautiful decorations all combine to render Mr. Shaw’s country residence quite equal to those of its class found in the centres of civilisation, where conveniences are so much more readily obtained.’

We also visit ‘Stony Point’ near Darlington, which has been home to six generations of the Jamieson family. The house is superbly situated overlooking bends in Mt Emu Creek. Its garden melds the historic and contemporary. From the 1850s, there are established palms and oaks that anchor the garden into the landscape and provide an air of establishment; the understorey planting, in contrast, is exciting and innovative. Sweeps of architectural echiums, bold ornamental angelica, artichokes and iris are interspersed with brilliant masses of hardy valerian and forget-me-nots. These are offset by rounded clipped balls of westringia and other hardy shrubs, which line the drive leading into a huge drift of beautifully rounded clumps of sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. In another long bed, bright yellow hot pokers offset a large lemon tree dripping with masses of coloured fruit. Then there are the stands of white-trunked silver birches complementing the smooth white trunks of the elegant lemon-scented gums. Many trees have been planted to celebrate events such as weddings and birthdays. We enjoy a special farewell lunch at Stony Point before driving to Melbourne where our tour concludes. BL

Accommodation

Accommodation

All hotels provide rooms with private facilities. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure, in the meantime a summary is given below:

  • Hamilton (3 nights): 3-star Comfort Inn Botanical – located in the centre of town, offering a mixture of room types.  www.choicehotels.com
  • Portland (2 nights): 3-star Comfort Inn Richmond Henty – situated on the waterfront overlooking Portland’s working harbour, offering Deluxe Rooms with views over the bay. www.richmondhenty.com.au
  • Warrnambool (3 nights): 4-star Lady Bay Resort – located 100m from the Beach Promenade. Accommodation will be provided in a mixture of One Bedroom Studio Rooms and One Bedroom Apartments. ladybayresort.com.au

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double/twin room for single occupancy throughout the tour. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published

ASA INTENTION TO TRAVEL APPLICATION FORM

Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD $100.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD $400.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of AUD $500.00 is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.

Or

  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD $100.00 per person deposit, less a $33.00 service fee (including GST).
Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:-

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20 minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication
Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 9-day tour of Victoria’s Western District involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs and uneven terrain.
  • A moderate amount of coach travel, several on winding mountainous roads.
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.00-6.30pm).
  • 3- and 4-star hotels and motels with 2 accommodation changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person where available. Porterage is usually not available at motels.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Notes

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on weather, clothing and what to pack. As a number of the properties we visit are extremely private, please be aware that photography may not be permitted in some places.

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3- and 4-star hotels/motels
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person (porterage may not be available at motels)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets for site excursions
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare to Melbourne
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Tour Map

Tour Map

Gallery
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions or services of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products, services, terms and conditions. If a service provider cancels or does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, and does not give a refund, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (e.g. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, border closures, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any tour service provider or authority however caused (contingencies). You must take out such travel insurance as is available against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour cancelled or changed will be limited to the partial refund of amounts you have paid, less an administration fee of $500 and other costs and charges of third party service providers. No compensation will be payable to you by ASA where ASA cancels or changes a tour, or any part of a tour.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate and in the best interests of health, safety and wellbeing of tour participants. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

Interested in this tour?
Take the next step

Make an Enquiry now

or alternatively Download PDF Reservation Application