Eliza's Luxury Accommodation

Eliza's Luxury Accommodation


Posted 2023-12-18 by Nadine Cresswell-Myattfollow

Fortunately, I've stayed in several "luxury places", but the label "luxury" rarely equates with good taste, except in this case.

Eliza's Luxury Accommodation is a new stand-alone accommodation in Bright, a tourist town famous for its scenic beauty, outdoor pursuits, cellar doors and food scene.

Built on an incline and reached via a driveway, Eliza's looks down over the old rail station. The disused line is now part of the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail, from Bright to Wangaratta, with a branch to Beechworth. Walk or ride into Bright in minutes.

From the expansive balcony, guests can enjoy sipping wine or barbecuing while looking out at mountain vistas. Below, the world whizzes past on two wheels.

The handcrafted bed is so large one guest wrote in the guestbook, "I hadn't realised I was sharing it with my wife until I found her there three nights later."

The furniture and kitchen joinery are handcrafted by local craftsman Trent Keller from TKEL Furniture , a bespoke furniture business in Wodonga. The timeless pieces use salvaged timber, helping tell the stories of the past.

Above the handcrafted wooden benches hang hand-blown glass lamps created by Mark Douglass.

The cabin has Smeg appliances, a rain shower, and a deep, luxurious, free-standing bath. The box of Apelles botanical-infused products and large soft towels make guests feel truly pampered.

Even the pen I used to write in the guestbook was created by Petes Bespoke Pens .

One spends a great deal of time at Eliza's, observing all the attention to detail that makes it both a fascinating and luxurious stay.

The Concept
Eliza's was conceived by husband and wife team Steve Grimes, a quantity surveyor with awards for his contributions to environmentally sustainable design and Fiona Trembath, a writer and kiln-formed glass artist who creates at Wild Cherry Glass Studio in Eltham.

The couple lives in Eltham, a Melbourne suburb long a drawcard for "creatives." Their connection with Bright is through Steve's extended family, who still live there. One night over a campfire in nearby King Valley, Fiona overheard a story of a Bright character that ignited her imagination.

A Strange Story
The story was of Eliza Lynch, born in Ireland c.1828, female but who lived in Bright as a man (Edward Moate) working for the local doctor. When Dr Benjamin Warren died unexpectedly, aged 46, Edward was found roaming the streets exhibiting signs of lunacy (we might call it grief these days). He was arrested and admitted to the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, where the compulsory bath revealed: "he was a she".

If Eliza had been willing to dress as a female again, there might have been more leniency; but instead, Eliza/Edward died incarcerated three years later, aged 59

After overhearing the story, Fiona spent a year researching Eliza's life and found she had married Richard Moate, who deserted her and their two young children. During this period, their two-year-old son fell ill with syphilis. In this era, before penicillin, Eliza used the treatment mercury rub. Little Edward died from mercury poisoning, a deadly side-effect of this common remedy.

Her husband returned six months later and accused Eliza of murder before absconding again, taking their four-year-old son. Stricken with grief over the loss of both children and fearful for her safety, she fled.

Finding herself on the rough and tumble Victorian Gold Fields, where males outnumbered women six to one, she assumed a male persona and used her dead son's name --Edward (Ned) Moate.

In Omeo, she worked as a groomsman for Mr William Phipps. After his death, she became a manservant for his friend Benjamin Warren, Bright's doctor, where she lived happily for several years. Click here for more information on Eliza.

The Modern Fascination with this Story.
Was Eliza transgender? Or did she realise the only way she could survive in a man's world of that era was to become one? Did the men Eliza lived with have their secrets? Were they perhaps her lovers? How much did they know about her?

After her findings, Fiona decided to name the new accommodation after Eliza. She wrote: "%%Eliza's courage during the hardships of life in the late 1800s, of motherhood – womanhood – to the extent she changed her appearance and lived as a man, ... made her someone whose memory should be resurrected….

…Hence the naming of the building as Eliza's: to pay respect to an amazing woman and to acknowledge the difficulties that faced all women in those tough years on the goldfields of Bright in the mid-1800s.%%"

The design and building of Eliza's honours the story of Eliza Lynch/Edward (Ned) Moate and pays homage to Eliza's will, determination, and strength to survive in the world, whatever the odds.

The Architecture
Eliza's pays reference to the traditional settlers' huts with a pitched roof, verandah, and a regular rhythm of simple small-paned windows as in colonial architecture. Even the textured glass panels have a similar form to the wavy hand-cast glass of the era.

The vertical timber cladding is plantation eucalypt Silvertop Ash and a contemporary version of the log offcuts used in the early slab huts. The logs are radial sawn, a process developed in Victoria that uses all parts of a log.

The external colour palette was inspired by the hues of the Melaleuca bark, a common material used for roofing the early colonial huts.

The furnishings, such as the velvet chairs and sheer curtains, are soft, like Eliza's feminine side, which she coated with a hard masculine exterior.

There are no photographs of Eliza (although there is an interpretive artwork) or the early settlement, but you still absorb the story gently through being immersed in this decor.

Eliza was born in Ireland but came out as a bondswoman to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) as a young woman. The palette of colours is yellow and teal, representing the land and the sea of Eliza's journey from Ireland to Australia in the 1800s. Of particular note are Fiona's small panes of kiln-fired glass reflecting these colours in the various lights of the day.

The walls are like a miniature art gallery with works that extenuate the theme. One of the many is a mixed medium by Steve Grimes titled Eliza - using melaleuca bark - the material used in the cladding of early bush huts - and the figures showing a gradual hardening of the exterior, applicable to Eliza's self-transformation to manhood.

Another is a miniature bronze duet by the well-known husband and wife artists Gillie and Marc ; their famous creatures, Dogman and Rabbitwoman' signify two opposites coming together. Like Eliza's tale of her embodiment of both sexes, they signify how males and females can unite as soulmates.

Theming a Holiday on Eliza
The accommodation is so comfortable, and the view from the balcony so enticing you may simply wish to stay here and "chill", But if, like me, you enjoy getting the most out of a new place, you can theme outings on Eliza. Many of the historical sites she inhabited still exist and are some of Bright and surrounds key attractions.

Elm Dining

The surgery and home where Dr Benjamin Kinsey Warren employed Eliza/Edward was at 98 Gavan St, Bright (opposite Bright Brewery). This fine building is one of Bright's most iconic locations; for over a century (1857 to 1977), it was the continual residence for Bright's doctors.

Today Elm is an upmarket restaurant under the guidance of head chef Brendon Chadwick, who creates a seasonal menu championing the region's best produce.

The more casual Yard Bright shares the same building and offers Tex-Mex share plates and botanical cocktails. While Eliza could never have imagined such foods as she cooked beef and potatoes, there is a connection with her. You can imagine Eliza/Edward tripping through the hallways and down the front steps doing the chores.

The Canyon Walk
The Canyon Walk starts behind the Bright Visitors Centre across the road from where Eliza worked. This generally easy walk is one of Bright's highlights. In Autumn, the poplar trees are like flares of flame from Bunsen Burners. The 3km return track follows the Ovens River, and you can imagine Eliza taking this walk dressed as a man. This walk passes a small canyon carved by the Ovens River and water races dug by early miners.

Tip: For those with accessibility issues, the first section of the walk is a sealed track, and you can do a shorter walk by turning back after the first of the swing bridges and looping back on the southern side of the river.

Beechworth Lunatic Asylum
Beechworth is a 45-minute drive from Bright. The Beechworth Asylum , later known as Mayday Hills Mental Hospital, was where Eliza was incarcerated after being found in her manic state.

Founded in 1867, the facility only closed in 1995. The asylum and its rambling grounds and severe Victorian architecture are reminders of a grim past. While the main buildings are from 1867, the outbuildings were built over time as the institution was self-sufficient with a farm, piggery, orchards, kitchen garden, and theatre.

As one of Victoria's largest psychiatric hospitals, it held up to 1200 patients. Three thousand patients are thought to have died there.

Some areas are restricted, but generally, visitors are free to wander the grounds. Pick up the walking maps at the Beechworth Visitor Information Centre.

While the walks are themed on the century-old trees, most people find themselves drawn to the foreboding buildings and the ha-ha wall around the patients' courtyards. The wall was a cruel trick. From the outside, it looked low enough not to suggest imprisonment, but from the inside, inmates faced unscalable barriers that sealed their fate.

Asylum Ghost Tours
During your walk, note signs for the Bijou Theatre that houses the office for the Asylum Ghost Tours. After asking permission at the office, I and a few other wanderers could take in the foyer that showcased posters and memorabilia detailing what life was like for inmates – iron beds, overcrowding, straight jackets and shock treatment.

There are both daytime history walks and night ghost tours. Pre-book online , as I found they were fully booked. But the office attendant happily answered some of my questions about Edward Moate, and he/she is one of the characters they talk about in some of their tours.

Beechworth Cemetery
Eliza/Edward was buried in Beechworth Cemetery as Edward Moate. But it wasn't until the 1980s that people with mental health conditions were given headstones marking their graves. They were also buried in the opposite direction to everybody else - setting them apart from the rest of society as they had been in life.

You may not find Edward Moate's grave. Still, the cemetery is fascinating, especially the lofty Chinese Burning Towers, where mourners burnt offerings of paper prayers, pork and gifts for the afterlife.

Follow the Culinary Clues

Bright is the ultimate foodie destination. A stay at Eliza comes with a generous welcome basket of locally sourced products. Another way to theme a holiday is to trace where some of these products came from.

Sixpence Coffee
My gift bag of coffee led me to Sixpence Coffee . Tourists might see the queue at Bright Market at their coffee van and give up.

But if you visit their coffee shop and roasting facility, there's a chance of a much quicker fix.

Inside I saw several locals sipping coffee while working on their laptops. After tasting this small batch coffee, I wished I had a venue like this in Melbourne. As Melbourne is coffee central, my comment alone tells you about the quality of the brew.

Sixpence Coffee flips at 2 pm and becomes Reed & Co Distillery, a place for stand-out food, gin tastings and cocktails. Their gins are crafted using local botanicals - an authentic taste of the High Country.

Grab a bottle of Dark Night Coffee Gin Liqueur for a great drink that encapsulates both venues. A marriage of the cold extracted Colombian Arabica coffee (from Sixpence) and a native botanica gin, aged in whisky barrels from Reed & Co. Great kick. So good!

Tip: After you have received some inspiration from Reed & Co Distillery, go back to Eliza's to use
The cocktail shaker and dried orange slices cocktail. The owners have thought of everything to help you enjoy your stay.

Ringer Reef Winery

Eliza's owners left a bottle of red. I enjoyed a glass on the balcony on a balmy autumn evening. The red would have been perfect in winter in front of Eliza's wood-burning fireplace.

The wine came from Ringer Reef Winery outside Bright in Porepunkah. The property has a huge patio and grassy paddocks to laze in, all with stunning views across the Buckland Valley and Mount Buffalo.

Expect to spend longer than you think here soaking up the incredible views.

The Australian Pumpkin Seed Company
After enjoying a package of salted pumpkin seeds with my wine on Eliza's wide balcony, I visited the Australian Pumpkin Seed Company.

The gardens are stunning with highly unusual plants, and across the road is their crop of sunflowers. Every Instagrammer's dream comes true –just ask permission first.

In the store, you are offered tastings of various dried pumpkin seeds, including dark chocolate-covered ones. Their walls are stocked with almonds, apricot kernels, hazelnuts, walnuts and sunflower seeds, with many pressed into oils and flour/meals.

So much more than pumpkin seed, my purchase included their house-made raspberry vinegar, walnuts and walnut oil for the perfect Waldorf salad.

Dining Suggestions
Bright has many places to eat, so it's good to have some recommendations. With their local knowledge, Fiona and Steve have suggestions on their website. Look here for some tips when checking out their accommodation.

With such a well-equipped kitchen at Eliza's, I couldn't make all their suggestions during two days, but I can vouch for Tomahawks - the broccolini with crushed local hazelnuts and miso butter was amazing. Gumtree Pies - flaky pastry stuffed with cubes of chunks of beef or vegetarian options. There is always a queue.

Bright Brewery may be large, but it's friendly, and my brown rice burrito bowl was tasty. Not being a beer drinker, I opted for Alpine Cider made from pink lady apples. So good I later bought a six-pack at the local to take back to Melbourne. If I'd had time, I would have tracked down the makers – Nightingales Bros Apples in Wandiligong 5 kilometres from Bright. They stock a range of fresh apples and local produce, including apple pies and offer brunches on weekends but are open daily for coffee and cider.

Supporting Local Businesses
Steve and Fiona are conscious of supporting local businesses and artisans. Another trail you can follow in Bright is the list they provide of where they bought many of the artworks and decorative objects surrounding you in their truly tasteful luxury accommodation.


Eliza's Bright Accommodation
Contact 61407 078 744
[email protected]

152377 - 2023-06-14 06:33:23


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