Trace Melbourne's past through the city's most significant heritage homes and their glorious gardens. Visit early homesteads, live the 19th-century suburban high life and step inside the rooms where history-altering decisions were made. On a wander through historic gardens or a picnic on pristine lawns, you'll see, hear and smell the stories of our ancestors' complicated relationship with the land.

1. Cooks' Cottage

Cooks' Cottage was originally built by Captain James Cook's parents in Yorkshire, England, in 1755. You'd be forgiven for thinking you'd momentarily moved to the UK when you step across its threshold. This home's every brick was shipped and relocated to Melbourne by businessman Sir Russell Grimwade in 1934. Wrapped in a quaint cottage garden with volunteers dressed in 18th-century costume, it's an unmissable time-warp attraction.

2. La Trobe's Cottage

This is Melbourne's oldest surviving building and the original home to Victoria's first governor and his family, Charles Joseph La Trobe, from 1839. Inside, La Trobe's Cottage is a living museum containing many original pieces of furniture and other artefacts belonging to the La Trobe family. Even the romantic garden surrounding the property has been recreated using plants available in the 1840s and 1850s. 

3. Black Rock House

Heritage homes were often meeting places for Melbourne's elite and, in their own way, have helped shape the course of Australia's history. Black Rock House was built in 1856 by Charles Hotson Ebden, a pastoralist, entrepreneur and Victoria’s first auditor-general. It was later a retreat for Governor Sir Henry Barkly, among other powerful figures.

4. Como House

Glamorous homes and gardens such as these allow a rare glimpse into the opulent lifestyles that some enjoyed in generations past. Como House was home to the Armytage family from 1865 for nearly a century. The house and its garden were famous among Melbourne high society for elegant dances, dinners and receptions, and you can still feel its golden-era magic as you explore this carefully preserved estate.


5. Ripplon Lea Estate

National Heritage listed Rippon Lea Estate emulates 19th-century suburban high life. Completed in 1868, the property was built for Frederik Sargood, who lived there with his wife and nine children, plus seven maids, seven gardeners, a butler, a coachman and a groom. Wind your way through the more than 20 rooms in the estate, the picturesque lake and waterfall and the largest fernery in the Southern Hemisphere, a nod to Sargood's love of ferns.

6. Labassa Mansion

Labassa's thirty-five rooms each shine with gilt-embossed wallpapers, mahogany timber and ornate stained glass. Outside, the Victorian-era mansion's Corinthian columns, arcaded verandas, classical decoration and inset Italian marble panels attracted Melbourne's elite during the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Hollywood's first Australian silent film star.

7. Villa Alba

In the 1880s, Melbourne's leading art decorating firm The Paterson Bros were selected to decorate Villa Alba, a lavish Italianate mansion in Kew. They enlisted other artists to do much of the work. Try and identify the artists by the small initials hidden among the mansion's decorated ceilings and friezes, before exploring the heritage late-Victorian garden.

8. Werribee Park and Mansion

The Chirnside family were influential pastoralists, who built and owned Werribee Park and Mansion from 1877. Discover one of Melbourne's grandest estates; sit for a picnic by the lake, escape to the grotto or immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of colour in the Victoria State Rose Garden. If you dare, join a Werribee Park Paranormal Investigation Tour at the Chirnside's original Bluestone homestead, located behind the grand mansion, for a ghost tour.


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