I didn’t do much research so it wasn’t till we arrived that I realised two things: the first is that this is an awesome place to stay and my wife and I and our two daughters absolutely loved the the hotel, the grounds and the amazing food. The missus thought the spa was pretty good too... The second? The original mansion is a wonderful building steeped in history and while I haven’t had a huge amount of success researching the subject, the property was obviously the home of a keen big game hunter at some stage.
So I did some research…
In 1839, Scottish brothers and wealthy pastoralists, Andrew and Thomas Chirnside, acquired Werribee Estate and the Mansion was built between 1874 and 1877. One of the brothers, Andrew was married to Mary and together they raised their son Andrew Spence Chirnside, born in 1856.
So my research led me to the obituary of Andrew Spence Chirnside, printed in The Argus on the 18th of April 1934. (1934 'FINE SPORTSMAN DEAD.’ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.: 1848 - 1956), 18 April, p. 7, viewed 27 May 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10928545)
Andrew Spence Chirnside died at 79 years of age (1856 to 1934). He was known to be a very keen hunter – a master of hounds in the beginning of hunting in Victoria, a known deer hunter and a hunter of Africa’s Big Game. At 23 years of age, in 1879, Chirnside was in South Africa when the British decided to invade Zululand to protect Natal and the Transvaal. That’s an interesting story in itself, but back to the point of this rambling…
“It was during the Zulu War that, with only one white companion, Mr. Chirnside went on a big game hunting expedition to South Africa. He returned with many trophies of the chase...”
And so it came to be that throughout this Italianate-styled mansion, with its Victorian period interiors, built by wealthy sheep farmers are numerous sporting trophies and spoils of the hunt.
The Mansion: Italianate-styled with lavish Victorian period interiors.
The formal gardens include this amazing Bunya Bunya Pine, a Queensland native and for us living testament to the origins of our dining table!
The billiard room was the male domain... featuring a magnificent billiard table with raised viewing seat, the room was heavily decorated with sporting trophies and spoils of the hunt.
Southern Greater Kudu at the staircase.
A long and wide Impala trophy ram on the ground floor.
Bushbuck in one of the long hallways.
Lion and Leopard rugshell mounts with a hippo's head in the background.