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Beleura House & Garden

Home > Melbourne > Art | Day Trips | Historic Houses | Picnic Spots | Theatre
by Tricia Ziemer (subscribe)
Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Published June 11th 2022
Dame Nellie Melba secret beach retreat revealed at Beleura
MG Car Club visits Italian Villa
MG Car Club visits Italian Villa

Being part of the MG Car Club Victoria, we are constantly escaping the city to travel in our faithful cars on long and lovely drives, or navigational rallies, as we call them. Some really navigate based on the directions, others just follow the expert. But we all arrive happy, refreshed, and ready for a long lunch and another adventure.

Dame Nellie Melba Tea Room
Dame Nellie Melba Tea Room

And our volunteer members find some of the most stunning and unknown treasures. Recently, the MG Car club sent us trekking down the Mornington Peninsula to the Beleura Estate. What a magic find with stunning gardens and a dedicated Dame Nellie Tea Room. We spent a delightful day learning about the history of the estate and the time Dame Nellie Melba stayed there. We learned of the wealthy owners, restorers, and famous entrepreneurs who then donated the historical home to be cherished and open to the public for historical tours.

High Tea at Historical Villa
High Tea at Historical Villa

Beleura is located on the lands of the Bunurong or Boon Wurrung people, the first peoples to occupy lands surrounding Port Phillip Bay. The Beleura property, originally 180 acres, was first leased then purchased by James Butchart, a successful merchant who supplied mutton during the Gold Rush to settlers and thereby making his fortune. He commissioned At that time Beleura was regarded as Victoria's finest residence.

Guided Tours across the estate
Guided Tours across the estate

Over the years, there were several owners and it was even rented out for a short time as a holiday home. Then the Tallis family purchased the remaining house and acreage. One part of the property had been sold off but has since been repurchased and renovated into the Dame Nellie Melba Tea House.

High Tea and Garden Tours
High Tea and Garden Tours

Why Dame Nellie Melba? She had Coombe Cottage as her home. Well, apparently this was a home away from home for her down by the sea shore. She actually had her own suite of rooms with a sea bath, which she used every day. The servants initially had to climb, with buckets of seawater, up and down hundreds of wood stairs to get the water from Port Phillip Bay before a pump was installed.

But how was Dame Nelle associated with the house? She was a friend of the final reclusive owner and composer John Tallis. They would spend hours singing and composing on his piano, which still resides there to this day. John Tallis was the remaining son of Sir George Tallis. Sir Tallis was the Managing Director of J.C. Williamson Ltd. Anyone in the theatre world will know immediately who I write of. This was the world's largest theatre company of the day and started to highlight Melbourne as a Cultural hub internationally.

Sir Tallis purchased Beleura as a family holiday home in 1916. And of course, thousands of celebrities from the theatre world, including Dame Nellie Melba and the Ballet Russe, often stayed at Beleura enjoying the hospitality of the Tallis family in the
interwar years.

The Folly of Beleura

There were outdoor theatre and picnics as a regular occurrence in the stunning gardens. The remaining five hectares of surrounding gardens were styled in part by Edna Walling and architect Desbrowe-Annear.

Sculpted from nature Beleura Gardens
Sculpted from nature Beleura Gardens

You can spend a whole afternoon roaming and picnicking around classical water features and pools, a Japanese Garden, a Temple of Ceres, a Folly, a Summer House, a Rose Garden and a working Kitchen Garden supplying food to the tea rooms. If you have never heard of a Folly, they are mock giant structures of castles facers, roman temples, or pyramids. They go nowhere and seldom have roofs. They are just a thing of beauty.

After his father's death in 1948, composer John Tallis spent his lifetime preserving Beleura, adding roman touches and upon his death in 1996, he left it, almost exactly how it is today to the people of Victoria. Exhibitions of different historical museum artworks, costumes, and other displays change during the year. But basically, it contains the utterly charming styles, furnishings, and the changing of times within a family's life including the family photos.

Just the courtyard entices
Beleura Courtyard entices

According to Manager, Martin Green, "Today Beleura is a state heritage-listed house museum that contains an intriguing collection of artworks, ephemera and furnishings belonging to John Tallis and the Tallis family. Beleura welcomes you to tour the House and visit its beautiful gardens, enjoy our morning teas and lunches and select from a program of music from Australia's finest performers."

At the time I went through, the original costumes for My Fair Lady were on display in all their shimmer and glory from as far back as the 1950s.

Inspiring Gardens and Pools
Inspiring Gardens and Pools

They have guided tours with experts. We were teamed up with a childhood friend of John Tallis, and the delightful stories he told are for me to know and you to find out. In the summer, they also hold Twilight Tours of the gardens What better way to begin the evening than with drinks and canapés on the verandah before a sunset tour.

The Tallis Family Pavilion Concert Theatre

They also have a stunning music theatre in the round named after the Tallis family. The acoustics are fabulous and they are hosting some of the top musicians in concert over the course of the year.

This is a great chance to get away for a weekend to the Mornington Area and culture up. Entry to Beleura is by booking only. Morning Tea Tours, Afternoon Teas and Twilight Tours from $35. Full Day from $45. Music concerts range from $50 to $65.

Bookings can be made at their website or ring 03 5975 2027.

Tallis Family Car still shines of the era
Tallis Family Car still shines of the era

They love accommodating groups and just for the MG Car Club, they opened up the garage and brought out the Tallis Cars.
What a treat for car buffs like us. Wheelchair access is available, but you must ring ahead, so they can plan to assist you about this wonderful place. But do not let it stop you. You will be thrilled you made the trip.

Regular Concerts in the Round are delightful
Regular Concerts in the Round are delightful
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Why? Learn about theatre history, Melbourne Gardens, and Dame Nellie Melba
When: By Bookings
Phone: 03 5975 2027
Where: Beleura Historical Estate & Gardens
Cost: $35 to $65
Your Comment
Great article and location Tricia. Being a member of clubs is often a way of visiting places you may not on your own. One is almost tempted to buy a MG.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4118) 14 days ago
Thank you for your informative story. Quite enjoyed the read and will head down there A.S.A.P
by Christine (score: 0|8) 14 days ago
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