Friday 15 October 2010

Woolongoon mansion at Mortlake open to public


More than a century of pride and passion – spanning generations of the one family – will be on display when the beautiful garden of Mortlake's historic Woolongoon mansion is open to the public.

It is a garden which features all the flowers of spring and majestic old trees at their best – even flowering cherries, brought from Japan when the present owner's grandparents married in 1911.

The picturesque garden will be the setting of the Woolongoon Garden Fair on Sunday, October 24, as a fund-raiser for the Abbeyfield Residential Facility extension fund.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the wonderful 100-year-old plantings of exotic shrubs; historic farm buildings and farm and garden implements, as well as farm tours to see the enterprise in operation today.

Luki Weatherly, host and current caretaker of this family legacy, says Woolongoon has been owned by her husband's family since 1895.

She says originally there was a garden around the small house that forms the basis of today's large house, but apart from the circular front lawn no traces of it remain.

"The garden you see now has been developed over 115 years – it has changed but the changes have generally been fairly slow," Luki says.

"The Woolongoon garden has some wonderful trees – both deciduous and non deciduous, with interesting shrubs and a wide variety of plants and flowers, suitable for our fairly dry conditions.

"There is a vegetable garden, shrubberies and many little winding paths, making it a delight for children – with the wealth of birds, who move between the gardens and the dam to the south of the house and the salt lake to the north, completing the picture.

"Because it has been the centre of a working farm as well as a home, the area contains other structures, such as the stables, the chicken run and meat house. A number of those in the garden were built for special jobs (such as the kerosene house at the back of the stables).

"Some of them have fallen into disrepair and been removed – only the brick chimney remains from the Chinese gardener's cottage, for example. Some have just changed uses. Some just exist.

"In many ways this is more than just a garden – it is a time capsule of a farm and of eras long gone."

Luki says as Woolongoon has not been opened to the public for some years, people who have visited before will notice changes – climate change has had an effect on the kind of plants in the borders and clearances of some of the shrubberies has opened more vistas.

"We love it and hope all the people who come to the Woolongoon Garden Fair will too," she says.

"It is a beautiful place for all sorts of activities for everyone to enjoy."

The garden fair will include an art show, art competition, fairies at the bottom of the garden, specially selected stalls and food for every taste – from gourmet to sausage sizzle.

Willie Wilson's famous wildlife sculptures will also be displayed in this ideal setting. Other sculptures on display include works by Shades of Gray and Mason Design.

Further details can be found at

Sponsors of the Woolongoon Garden Fair include Origin Energy, Midfield Meats and The Mortlake Power Station Combined Workforce Fundraising Committee.

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