Hall at Montsalvat
Eltham (including Eltham North, Diamond
Creek, Yarrambat, Yan Yean and Kangaroo Ground)
Outer Melbourne suburb famous as a retreat
Although Eltham is technically an outer suburb
of Melbourne it has a reputation as a green
wedge owing to the generous amount of tree
canopy, the fact that the Yarra River and
several important creeks flow through the area,
and the number of scenic areas set aside as
public recreation areas. While the centre of
Eltham is quite heavily populated the township
areas in the hills to the north-east are truly
trans-suburban, being sparsely populated rural
areas of considerable beauty.
Eltham is located 29 km by road north-east of
Melbourne's CBD. A community art and craft
market is held in the carpark between Arthur St
and Pryor St on the first Sunday of each month
from February to October. Between November and
January it is held on the first and third
Sundays of the month (from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00
p.m.). The Eltham Festival is held annually in
Things to see:
For local tourist information contact Nillumbik
shire on (03) 9433 3315, or the Nillumbik
Tourism Association on (03) 9714 8634.
The Eltham Heritage Trail
The Eltham Heritage Trail incorporates many of
the area's notable tourist attractions,
including the Montsalvat artists' colony (see
next entry). The main trail encompasses 20
historically significant sites over a 4.8-km
loop, starting from the old trestle railway
bridge near the Eltham Library, and finishing
back at the carpark, tel: (03) 9433 3315.
River from Eltham Lower Park
Eltham Lower Park and Lenister Farm
Eltham Lower Park is adjacent Main Rd in Eltham.
It contains the Diamond Valley Railway which was
established in 1960. It operates a quality
miniature railway every Sunday from 11.00 a.m.
to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9439 1439.
On the southern side of the river, at the
confluence of the Yarra River and Diamond Creek,
is Lenister Farm Wetland where there is a bird
hide, a viewing platform and interpretive
A bike path links this area to Wingrove Park
(adjacent Main Road a little further north).
Eltham Wireglass Gallery and Cafe
On the other side of Main Road is Eltham
Wireglass Gallery and Cafe which features
landscape and wildlife artworks, sculptures and
handcrafted giftware in a mud-brick gallery. It
is open Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays
from 11.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9439
has the feeling of a French village
A little further north along Main Rd, there is a
turnoff on the right into Mt Pleasant Rd. If you
follow Mt Pleasant Rd then turn right into
Hillcrest Ave you will come to Montsalvat Arts
Complex which was established in 1934 as an
artists' colony by Justus Jorgensen, a student
of Max Meldrum who had spent much time painting
at Eltham. The artists involved were reacting
against the abstraction of modernism by heading
out into the bush and pursuing the plein-air
methods and landscapes associated with the
Jorgensen started with a small country
cottage where he and his friends could stay at
weekends. In 1938 work began on the Great Hall,
a three-storey studio space above the gallery
which features a large open fireplace, wooden
refractory tables, stained-glass windows and a
polished slate floor. During World War II
Montsalvat was transformed into a farming
collective as part of the war effort. The dairy,
stables, silos and storehouses, which date from
this era, are now studios and workshops.
Today Montsalvat resembles a small French
village. It features a range of rustic
architectural styles amidst 12 acres of garden.
The buildings are of high quality, being
constructed of whatever materials could be
obtained, including stone and earth from the
excavation site. Some of the stone, brick and
timber was recycled from building wreckers.
Montsalvat features a permanent collection
and temporary exhibitions. The Great Hall is
ideal for weddings, social functions and
conferences. Annual events include the
Montsalvat National Poetry and Song Festival and
the Montsalvat Community Music Festival in
December, The Montsalvat Creative Music Festival
in March, The Montsalvat Chamber Music Festival
and Celebrate the Environment at Montsalvat in
April, the Montsalvat Festival of Early Music in
May, the Montsalvat Invitation Exhibition of
Paintings and Drawings in June, the Montsalvat
Invitation Exhibition of Sculpture and Jewellery
in July and the Montsalvat Festival of
Improvised Music in October. There is an entry
fee, tel: (03) 9439 7712 or (0418) 549 541.
|The charm of
St Margaret's Church
If you start at the corner of Main Rd and Mt
Pleasant Rd and continue north along Main Rd,
you will soon come to another turnoff on the
right into Pitt St where you will find St
Margaret's Church which was built in 1860-61.
Alistair Knox Park
Further north along Main Rd, at the intersection
with Sherbourne Rd, is Alistair Knox Park,
adjacent an historic trestle railway bridge
(1902). There are barbecues, picnic areas, a
playground, a pond, sculptures, heritage trail
signs and walking paths, tel: (03) 9433 3111.
In this area Panther Place heads west off Main
Rd down to Shillinglaw Cottage (1878) which now
incorporates a restaurant, tel: (03) 9439 6315.
Adjacent is an unusual and architecturally
significant library complex built of mud-brick
and recycled timbers.
Eltham North Adventure Play Park
Proceed north to the corner of Main Rd and
Wattletree Rd. Turn left into the latter. In
Wattletree Road Reserve is the Eltham North
Adventure Play Park which features a safe
indoors playground with canopy. There is a
barbecue area and access to bike tracks and to
Edendale Farm which is located nearby in Gastons
Proceed along Wattletree Rd. Take the first
right after you cross the railway line into
Gastons Rd where you will find Edendale Rd. This
100-year-old demonstration farm features rare
and endangered farm animals and it provides many
opportunities to learn and experience
environmentally-responsible farming practices.
It is located on six hectares adjacent Diamond
Creek. There are guided educational farm tours
and excursions and self-guided walks. It is an
ideal venue for birthday parties and school
excursions. Farm produce and livestock can be
purchased, tel: (03) 9439 8113.
Further along Wattletree Rd is a turnoff into
Laurel Hill Drive which leads to Murrays Wetland
- a recently created wetland area which filters
stormwater entering Diamond Creek. There is a
viewing platform with interpretive signage. It
is located in Laurel Hill Drive at Eltham North,
tel: (03) 9433 3111.
Diamond Creek and Ellis Cottage
If you continue along Wattletree Rd to the
roundabout then take the gentle right (not the
sharp right) and proceed due north along Ryans
Rd it leads into the Main St of Diamond Creek.
The Diamond Creek Town Fair is held annually in
March and the Diamond Creek Community Market is
held at Nillumbik Reserve on the fourth Sunday
of each month from September to May, tel: (03)
In Nillumbik Square is Ellis Cottage - a
stone structure built by an early European
settler. It has been restored with a
19th-century interior and is open as an
historical centre and museum on the first Sunday
of each month from 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m., tel:
(03) 9438 3439.
Alan Sartori Art Gallery
Ironbark Rd heads north off Main St. At no.100
is the Alan Sartori Art Gallery which has a
continuous changing exhibition of oils and
watercolours. Viewings are possible any time by
appointment, tel: (03) 9438 2825.
Yellow Gum Park
Turn off Main St into Diamond Creek Rd which
heads south-west to the Greensborough Highway
and hence towards
Heidelberg. About 2 or 3 km along Diamond
Creek Rd turn right into Yan Yean Rd which
proceeds north into an area known as Yarrambat.
After about 1 km Yan Yean Rd bends to the left
and then, a little further on, bends to the
right. Proceed straight ahead along Memorial
Drive instead of following Yan Yean Rd when it
takes the aforementioned bend to the right.
Memorial Drive will take you to Goldsworthy Lane
which leads to Yellow Gum Park adjacent the
Plenty River. There is a walking track, a
picturesque lake, a lookout and barbecue
facilities, tel: 131 963.
Hills of Plenty Winery
If, instead of turning into Memorial Drive, you
follow Yan Yean Rd northwards you will pass
Plenty Views Golf Park. At 370 Yan Yean Rd is
the Hills of Plenty Winery which offers tastings
and sales of red and white wines on the last
Sunday of each month from midday to 5.00 p.m. or
by appointment, tel: (03) 9436 2264.
Flying Scotsman Railway and Other
Attractions at Yarrambat
Further north on Yan Yean Rd, to the left, are
the Yarrambat Park Community Golf Course and
Yarrambat Park where there are views of the
Plenty River, playground and picnic facilities.
A little further north, on the other side of
the road, at 744 Yan Yean Rd, is the Flying
Scotsman Railway where you can drive a working
model railway and view a record of the Flying
Scotsman's Australian Tour. It is open weekends
from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and, during the
school holidays, on Wednesdays from 10.00 a.m.
to 3.00 p.m., tel: (03) 9436 1112.
Yan Yean Reservoir
Continue north along scenic Yan Yean Rd for
about another 6 km to the intersection with
Arthurs Creek Rd. Turn left to access the main
facilities of Yan Yean Reservoir Park which is
located in the foothills of the Sherwyn Ranges.
There are excellent views, picnic areas,
disabled facilities, walking trails, an historic
dam wall, many waterbirds, eastern grey
kangaroos, barbecues and toilets, tel: 131 963.
Evelyn Country Estate Winery and Wellers
If you follow Eltham's Main Rd north past the
Wattletree Rd turnoff it veers eastwards towards
Research and Kangaroo Ground, becoming the
Eltham-Yarra Glen Rd. About 2 km beyond
Wattletree Rd, to the left, is Evelyn Country
Estate Winery which is open by prior arrangement
only, tel: (03) 9437 1668.
Nearby, on the other side of the road, is
Wellers Hotel and Restaurant which is located in
a restored Cobb & Co coach-house offering
excellent views of the Yarra Valley, tel: (03)
Andrew Ross Memorial Museum, Church and
Wycliffe Bible Translators
If you continue eastwards along the Eltham-Yarra
Glen Rd for about another 6 km you will come to
the centre of the tiny settlement of Kangaroo
Ground. To the left is the Andrew Ross Memorial
Museum which is based in the old Kangaroo Ground
Primary School and teacher's residence. It was
built in 1870-71 to replace the original school
which was a slab-construction structure.
Andrew Ross was the district's first
schoolteacher and, reputedly, the first
technical teacher in the state. He later
published a newspaper and ran an hotel and
throughout he kept a detailed diary which the
local historical society possesses. It has been
used to refurnish the school in period fashion.
The schoolhouse is a small building but it
has a quality display of items pertaining to the
school and early history of Kangaroo Ground
which is an attractive and sparsely populated
area on elevated ground. One item on display is
a cutting from the district's first vineyard
which was established in the 1840s with the
resultant wine sold to Government House and
exported to England. The museum is open Sundays
from 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. or by appointment,
tel: (03) 9712 0668. Books on the history of the
area are on sale here and over the road at the
Kangaroo Ground store.
Adjacent the museum is the Presbyterian
Church (1860s). Both the school and church are
at the corner of the Eltham-Yarra Glen Rd and
Graham Rd. Down Graham Rd is the mudbrick
complex of the Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Kangaroo Ground War Memorial Lookout Tower
If you continue on past the Andrew Ross Museum
and turn right into what is a continuation of
the Eltham-Yarra Glen Rd, you will soon pass, to
the left, the War Memorial Lookout Tower. Built
in 1926, it is a tall stolid brick structure in
the manner of a Scottish keep. A set of internal
steps lead to a room at the top which offers a
fine vantage over the surrounding landscape and
city of Melbourne. This area is popular with
Pioneer Cemetery and Watson's Creek
Antiques and Cafe
Continue along the Yarra Glen Rd to the Kangaroo
Ground Cemetery which contains the graves of the
district's early pioneers.
A little further along, at the Watson's Creek
Bridge, is Watson's Creek Antiques and Cafe
which specialises in Edwardian and Victorian
furniture and china. The business is open
Thursday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.,
tel: (03) 9719 7518.
Heidelberg School Artists Trail
This route is designed to take interested
parties to the approximate sites depicted in the
paintings of those associated with the
Heidelberg School (i.e., Arthur Streeton, Walter
Withers, Louis Buvelot, Tom Roberts, Clara
Southern, David Davies, Emanuel Phillips Fox,
Charles Conder, Tudor St George Tucker, Eugene
Von Guerard, May Vale and Jane Price).
At each such site there is a reproduction of
the relevant painting, providing insight into
the artist's interpretation of the landscape and
into how the landscape has changed since that
time. It passes largely along the Yarra River,
through Heidelberg, Bulleen, Templestowe,
Eltham, Diamond Creek, Research, Warrandyte,
passing through Ringwood and Montrose, en route
to Kalorama, Olinda, Kallista and Upper Ferntree
Gully. There is a guiding brochure which can be
obtained from Banyule Council (tel: 03 9490
4222) or the project's organiser, tel: (03) 9458
5955 or (0418) 356 768.