Sweeping turrets, intricate gardens, antique furniture . . . these are the things that make for a magnificent castle or mansion. And if there happen to be a few mod-cons thrown in, all the better.
Ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle? It’s not just for fairytales as AT shows you where you can find a castle-stay in Oz.
Decorated in opulent Baroque style, Thorngrove Manor looks as though it was plucked straight from the English countryside (or straight from a Brothers Grimm fairytale) and recreated just outside of Adelaide. With its medieval interiors and souring turrets, it’s easy to believe you’ve driven, not just 17 minutes from the CBD, but several hundred years back in time – but with the added luxury of modern conveniences. The surrounding grounds make Thorngrove private and quiet and, like the Manor itself, the staff have an eye for detail.
www.thorngrove.com.au, (08) 8339 6748.
Now a Sofitel Luxury Hotel, Werribee Park Mansion Hotel & Spa is not all of the grand Chirnside Mansion, but rather one large wing known as St Joseph’s Seminary, which used to house priests-in-training from 1920 to 1970. Just 20min southwest of Melbourne, Werribee Park has a long history; built in 1870, it was once a stately home (and the largest in Victoria) come school, and has since become an ideal escape with its large park grounds, award-winning restaurant and spa.
www.mansionhotel.com.au, (02) 9280 9794.
Milton Park Country House Hotel
Milton Park is a secluded estate just outside of Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands. It’s an extremely lavish, Victorian-style hotel that manages the hard task of being regal and comfortable all at the same time. Built by Anthony Hordern in the 1900s, the gardens (accessible only to guests, except on rare special occasions) were designed by his second wife, and remain among the best in Australia.
www.milton-park.com.au, (02) 4861 8100.
Delgany Portsea, on the mid-south Victorian coast beyond the Mornington Peninsula, has everything an honest-to-goodness castle requires: imposing stone walls, beautiful grounds, and even a resident ghost (it’s said to be the original owner, Harold Armytage, who died just before he moved into his fairytale home in 1927). Now housing magnificent accommodation options, with spacious villas and townhouses on the grounds of the castle, Delgany is also home to an award-winning spa.
www.delganyportsea.com.au, (03) 5984 4000.
Home to Victoria’s first vintage wine (in 1845), Chateau Yering is more of a sprawling country mansion than the French castle the name implies. It did show the French who was better in 1889, however, by winning the Grand Prix in wine and the Paris World Fair. By then, the house was the place to be for Melburnian socialites of 19th Century, and today the regal property an hour northeast of Melbourne still carries the same grand aura it did then.
www.chateauyering.com.au, (03) 9237 3333.
Rupertswood isn’t just a mansion that has entertained English monarchy; it’s also the birthplace of Australia (sort of). Just 30min northeast of Melbourne, The Ashes were famously presented here to England for the first time on Christmas Eve in 1882, when England won a friendly against the local team (they were still feeling sore after losing against Australia for the first time that year). Built by Sir William John Clarke, Rupertswood retains a grand colonial history, not just for cricket tragics.
www.rupertswood.com, (03) 9740 5020.
Hidden by around 400 acres of South Australian farm and bushland, North Bundaleer – “on the edge of the Clare Valley and the outback” – is a grand pastoral homestead marked by historic charm and a relaxed attitude. Filled with antiques and original artworks, the whole house is open for guests to explore and the “Butler’s Pantry” is well stocked for whenever you get peckish. North Bundaleer is almost a home away from home – if that home were an impressive 19th Century homestead.
www.northbundaleer.com.au, (08) 8665 4024.
Built by Edmund Bowman Jnr in 1879 as an entertainment and sports home (it had a racecourse, among other things) that he and the elite could enjoy whenever they felt the urge, the Georgian-style Martindale Hall two hours north of Adelaide is unusual in that it’s mainly a museum, but also operates as an after-hours B&B. It’s chock full of original furniture and artwork, and its most famous room is probably the White Room, which featured as the tragic Miranda’s room in Picnic at Hanging Rock.
www.martindalehall.com, (08) 8843 9088.