I am an Australian freelance writer living in Adelaide.
Published October 23rd 2011
I grew up in Eltham yet it took me 25 years to visit Montsalvat, the oldest artist's colony in Australia. Of course I knew of it, I'd even walked past it a few times yet one Sunday afternoon, a few years after we'd moved to the city, my Mum and I decided to venture back to our hometown for a history lesson. Isn't that the way it is - you live somewhere and forget to explore what's close to home?
Montsalvat is the name given to the buildings on this site. Built in 1935, there are mud brick cottages and stone buildings including artist studios, a Great Hall, a dining hall and manicured lawns where peacocks roam freely. Montsalvat is used for many purposes today. Pop by to hear a music concert, see an art exhibition, hear a talk by an artist or even take a painting class yourself. There's even an artist-in-residence program, emphasising the need to nurture and devote time to a talent in quiet but inspiring surroundings for artists. The Meeting Pool restaurant is also worth a visit for its seasonally and locally sourced produce.
Corporate functions, photography shoots and even television filming have all taken advantage of Montsalvat's beauty yet one of the best ways to celebrate Montsalvat is by getting married here. There's a bluestone chapel or Upper Gallery for the ceremony and the reception can be a sit-down dinner held in the Great Hall, a cocktail-style soirée by the pool or in the Meeting Pool restaurant. The photo opportunities are remarkable and endless.
While we visited on a misty winter morning, the grey weather made the place seem more alluring, more mystical yet from the professional photos on the website, you can tell how the sunlight really brings the buildings to life, especially as it would flood through the many windows onto the floorboards. Places aren't built like they used to be so take a step back in time and be enchanted by Montsalvat for yourself.