The property, in the heart of Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges, has had a colourful and thwarted history. In high times however, it was a much-admired art deco style hotel with guests including the Prince and Princess of Wales in the 1980s.
Having laid dormant for the best part of 25 years, it fell into disrepair. Then, Garrison and Bennett purchased the property in 2014 with ambitious plans for an emu farm, piggery, trufferie and restaurants, brewery, shop, cafe, a spa, cooking school, group accommodation, outdoor cinema/concert facilities and more.
In October in 2018, Bennett and Garrison finally got the approvals they need to commence work on what will undoubtedly be one of Victoria’s most sought after destination hotels. Before the spade hits the earth however, they are handing the entire property over to renowned Melbourne street artist Rone.
Tyrone Wright is known for his art works found in and around the urban streets of Melbourne’s inner-north, and in abandoned houses and venues – as well as his works on the Silo Art Trail. The artworks depict haunting, stylised portraits of women’s face and are aimed at finding the friction between beauty and decay.
Rone's takeover of Burnham Beeches will be the biggest project he has ever undertaken. One of the first priorities, was to ensure the venue was presented in an extreme state of distress and decay including new techniques developed to create the look of mould, peeling and chipped walls and surfaces.
With styling and sound effects added, each room evokes a different feeling. Rone's muse for the project is actor Lily Sullivan (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Mental). The result is EMPIRE.
The exhibition will open on March 6th for a six week period. Tickets will be $15 for adults and $10 for concessions and can be booked online or at the door. There will be eight sessions and day and some evenings. One day a week will be dedicated to school groups. Some private dinners will also be held with catering by the Vue Group.
EMPIRE is supported by Visit Victoria and Yarra Ranges Tourism.
Peter Bingeman, CEO of Visit Victoria says that the project will not only bring visitors to the Dandenong Ranges, but is also another feather in the cap for the burgeoning arts scene around regional Victoria.
“The public interest in seeing urban contemporary art of this nature applied at such scale has been proven with projects such as Benalla Wall to Wall Festival and the Silo Art Trail. We are all really excited about this one and thrilled to be in a position to support our home-grown talent,” said Peter Bingeman.
Simon O'Callaghan, CEO of Yarra Ranges Tourism said, “The Rone and Burnham Beeches 1930s mansion collaboration in the Dandenong Ranges is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Projects such as this truly highlight why this region is such a vibrant, creative destination that inspires and stimulates all the senses.”
SPOTLIGHT ON THE DANDENONG RANGES AND YARRA VALLEY
Burnham Beeches is set in the stunning Dandenong Ranges, a mountain range protected as Dandenong Ranges National Park. The region is known for its charming villages packed with cute cafes, craft boutiques and antique stores, winding roads lined with towering ferns, streams, waterfalls and local flora and fauna. Only 35km from Melbourne, visitors take a day, a weekend or more to breath the pure air, ride a bike or embark on a walking trail through the bushland, or simply relax in nature. Plenty of accommodation is available in the area from a chic boutique winery B&B, a self-contained cottage, or five-star luxury.
The Piggery at Burnham Beeches was Vue Group’s phase one of the property’s transformation. The warm and rustic café - unsurprisingly housed in a restored piggery and stables – offers an onsite bakery and delicious share plates filled with local produce from onsite and local farms and producers. It will be available throughout the Empire season, with extended hours and additional coffee facilities to hopefully cater for the crowds. 1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke VIC 3789, +61 (03) 9691 3858
Sassafras is the nearest village to Burnham Beeches, and Proserpina Bakehouse is perhaps the jewel in the crown. Six days a week they freshly mill flour that is turned into breads, pastries, delicious sweet baked goods and wholesome pies. This humming heart of Sassafras is the combined expertise of Gary Cooper (ex-Bella Vedere) and Carolyn Deutsher (ex-Ripe). Antique benches sit alongside purpose-built shelving filled with flowers, objects of beauty and the teams favourite local artisan produce. 361 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Sassafras VIC 3787, +61 (03) 9755 3332
Ripe, also in Sassafras, is an old favourite, with a great range of baguettes, homecooked meals and cakes. It’s cosy but also has an enclosed outdoor deck that looks into the trees and the colourful rosella’s that have made them home. Perfect for families. 376-378 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Sassafras, VIC 3787, +61 (03) 9755 2100
Olinda is the next village along the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road heading north. The Olinda Tea House, is new(ish) to the Dandenongs and brings a taste of China to the area. Featuring both a full traditional Chinese menu, as well as morning and high teas influenced by Asian flavours, this restaurant is set amongst the forest and is open for dinner six nights a week. 86A Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda VIC 3788, +61 (03) 9751 0556
Charming Olinda village also boasts quality window browsing and boutique shopping in form of The Olinda Collective which highlights local handmade items; Mangana Olinda a global treasure chest where visitors can lose themselves for hours among the many antiques and leadlight lamps; as well as Olinda Sweet Company and Little Lands – the latter which specialises in terrariums.
High Tea is somewhat of a must-do in this part of the world and one of the most enticing options has got to be Mary Eats Cake located at Leith Road continuing out to the north travel via Montrose. Providing brunch, lunch and high tea in gorgeous glam surrounds with expert tea and cake matching – the eatery is very popular and booking is highly recommend.
Of course the Dandenong Ranges is a short drive from the famous wine-growing region of the Yarra Valley. However a lesser-known sub-region is the home of James Halliday’s Winery of the Year 2019, Seville Estate. With a new restaurant and stunning accommodation overlooking the vineyard and Eucalyptus trees, it has rustic but stylish feel. 65 Linwood Road, Seville VIC, +61 (03) 5964 2622
Just a little north of Seville, Medhurst Winery has reopened its cellar door after renovations and is getting great reviews for both its wines and casual dining offering. 24 – 26 Medhurst Road, Gruyere, Yarra Valley, Victoria 3770, +61 (03) 5964 9022
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