Open House Melbourne is always a captivating event full of history, mystery and intrigue, and I was delighted to participate in this years exploration. On one weekend of the year an array of buildings around Melbourne open their doors to the public, who don their explorer hats and gain access to spaces that would usually be off limits!
The reason I love this event is because it is so quirky! You can take a tour of the old Prison, go deep into the substation, take a boat ride, and even visit an old lunatic asylum! Most importantly it allows you access to some of Melbourne’s most historical venues, where you will be filled to the brim with information about our great city’s immensely colourful past!
I chose to explore the Southside of Melbourne on my tour of Open House and visited the following places – Como House & Garden, Eildon Mansion, Melbourne Synagogue, Umina Country Women’s association of Victoria, and Northbrook & Former Stables. Living on this side of the city myself, I was very intrigued to find out more of what the area used to look like, who used to reside there, and what life was like back then.
First on the list was Como House & Garden, a remarkable mansion that holds dearly most of its original decor and tapestry’s. Walking through the vast halls and dimly lit hallways, it was an usual sensation imagining the families that used to live here. On one bedroom window upstairs there is a marking made by a little girl who stole her mothers diamond ring and etched her name. Her brother found out and made her add to the etching so that it read ‘Susan Brown is a fool’. These little windows (pun intended) back in time make visiting the mansion a truly unique experience.
Next I visited the Melbourne Synagogue in all its grandeur, and got a lovely guided tour. Our guide was very informative and answered our questions with both knowledge and humour, which was extremely engaging. I’ve always been fascinated by places of worship, and to be able to walk through this space was a real treat. There was some wonderful stain glass window art, and some old artefacts that only our particular group were shown, a real highlight of my day!
Eildon Mansion didn’t quite have the charm of Como House. I was expecting to see some remnants of past era’s, however the interior decor was all current. Now housing the Alliance Francaise de Melbourne, Eildon Mansion is the perfect place to go to learn French! For my purposes though I moved on fairly quickly, in search of more historical knowledge of my area.
The Country Women’s Association led me back on the right track. Our guided tour there was quite informative, and a kudos to the innovative women that had dominated this building back in the day. The grounds still held their old world charm, with a bevy of friendly ladies selling scones, and a delightful tea room set up for guests. There were photos on the walls of some past members, and tapestry’s and artworks with wonderful backstories. In particular a beautiful map that showcased regions that no longer exist in Victoria.
To end my tour I called in at Northbrook & Former Stables. Having been converted many years previously from a stable into a practice room for the local band, there was not too much to see on arrival. However, after being taken on a short tour, it was extremely interesting to learn the history of the band that still resides there. Obviously the members have changed over the years, however the photo collages on the walls paint a wonderful story, and shows that love of music really does last through the ages.
I had a wonderful day of exploration, and would encourage everyone to take part in next years adventures. Whilst most venues do not require pre booking, the ones that do book out almost immediately. Best to do your research and book way in advance, or if like me you’d prefer a relaxed, non committal kind of day, have a browse through some of the ‘no booking required’ locations. Enjoy being swept back in time on what is truly a unique Melbourne Event.
For more details head to: http://www.openhousemelbourne.org/melbourne