HouseHunting: My very own Downton Abbey


I was in Melbourne last weekend for a wedding and I couldn’t helP stickybeaking at the local Domain. I find Melbourne property fascinating. Why does the architecture look so unmistakably foreign to Sydney? I rubberneck my way through every car trip.

The pile that stood out most was this little, or should I say enormous, beauty … http://www.domain.com.au/Property/For-Sale/House/VIC/Monegeetta/?adid=2010057622

(link not working, grrr, iPad limitations, just look up Monegeetta on http://www.domain.com.au, it’s the first listing.)


What the real estate agent says: “This once undeniably grand and gracious homestead, now in need of total restoration, and with outstanding future use potential.

“Designed by James Gall of Frognall and Noorilim fame for Captain Robert Gardiner (great grandfather of ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann), Mintaro has been variously described in references to being “a small replica of Melbourne’s Government House” to “that crumbling mansion on the road to Romsey.”

“The signature Italianate mansion includes an iconic tower from which the Melbourne CBD skyline can be viewed, a grand entrance hall and main staircase, 10 principal rooms, billiards room, 5 other rooms, and cellar. There is also a small charming brick stable and workshop building.

“The original renaissance inspired interior decor was exquisite and of great significance, with finely painted themes of the arts, flowers, birds, farming and nautical, and excellence in the arts of stenciling and marbling.

“Other manifestations of Victorian grandeur include superb free standing scagliola Corinthian columns, finely painted ceilings and walls, exceptionally decorative plaster cornices and other mouldings, marble fireplaces, classic intricate patterned Minton tiling, 46cm (16”) skirtings and 4.6m (15’)high ceilings.”

What I say: OK, so it’s a few million out of my price range, with a reserve of $3million (plus another $2mill, easy, to renovate) but oh, my giddy aunt. It’s incredible. Can’t you imagine yourself togged up like Lady Mary, sashaying through the halls being posh?

It’s a bit of a worry how they only show bits of cornice and pillars and stuff in the photos – doesn’t auger well for the kitchen and bathrooms – but someone rich and bored could have a fabulous time fixing those.

As Jennifer Blake wrote in my local property guide about a fancy pile up for sale: “If you’re tossing up between a private jet or vintage Ferrari, consider a third option …”

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