Kamesburgh, Brighton, 1874

Repost this day 2019:

One of the lesser known, because it doesn’t face the street, but really one of the grandest of the many #VictorianMansion in #Melbourne; by grand I mean the most classical columns (actually I think most of these mansions are a similar size inside). It’s in #NorthRoadBrighton, its called #Kamesburgh, designed by #LoydTayler, and was built in 1874 for William Kerr Thomson, a partner in James McEwan (anyone remember McEwan’s hardware ?) and ‘prominent Brighton citizen’.

A fine restrained colonnaded #verandah, and of course a tower, marking the entrance, but the most amazing part is it’s still got most of it’s huge grounds ! Prob because the Baillieu’s donated £25,000 to buy it in 1919 as a repat for WW1 veterans. In 1995 the hostel closed, and instead they built a new faculty at the east end, called Vasey RSL, and the whole site was leased to Bayside city council, with the house in turn leased to #StaroftheSeaSchool – and so the gardens are open to everyone, you can just drive in ! Very quiet.

A watercolour by the altar architect at the State Library shows it was originally a pale colour, and had a conservatory.

19 thoughts on “Kamesburgh, Brighton, 1874

      1. Hi Rohan.
        It comes under the Baillieu Act Gift provisions and the RSL have absolutely nothing to do with this property and have never ever done so. The Gift provisions were for the Repatriation Department or Department of Veterans Affairs and in 1995 they were changed per the Act for the Bayside Council to manage the gardens and the Star of the Sea Campus to rent the mansion. I know as I was the head gardener in 1995 when the Hostel was closed and Ted Baillieu visited that day to present award to all the staff.
        Cheers Graeme


      2. The Eucalyptus cladocalyx was one of the plantings done in 1874. The gardens were classified by the National Trust in 1992. The elms outside in the North Road verge were planted in 1873 by the owner. They still stand today. The Orchard was planted in 1875 and was removed. It had some of the oldest fruit trees in Victoria. The mansion was actually started in 1873 and completed in 1874. William Kerr Thomson visited the land before he purchased it as he lived down the road in New Street. Some extremely rare trees and plants in this garden.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There is no touring of the mansion inside as this has been put in place since the Star of the Sea has acquired the lease of the mansion. The last time the gates and fence had been sandblasted and painted was during my time about 1989. The original gate “disappeared” within 4 years after becoming the Anzac Hostel and it is interesting where it allegedly was moved to.


  1. Well Rohan I am confused. There is a plaque at the main entrance stating that Bayside Council acquired the property from the Department of Veteran Affairs in March 1996. The house was recently re-roofed by ARC Roofing who state that they were contracted, to do the job, by Bayside Council. Vasey RSL Care operate an aged care facility at the eastern end of the property, but I do not know under what terms, lease or own, they operate this facility.


      1. Thank you Rohan,
        Yesterday I was talking to a lady who lives near Kamesbrugh and she said the back part, where RSL Care have their accommodation, belongs to the RSL and the rest belongs to Bayside.


    1. Hi David.
      I worked in these gardens from 1980 to 1995 and was the head gardener before it closed. The Vasey RSL Care that is on this property do not own any part of the land and the Ballieu Act provided them to build as long as they used the Anzac Hostel name for veterans and their family. The Bayside Council manage and look after the gardens. The Star Of the Sea have a campus that use the mansion and the students use the gardens as well. I am in consultation with Bayside and Star of the Sea with references to the gardens history. I know a lot of the history of this garden that other do not.
      Cheers Graeme


      1. I believe that the whole property belongs to Bayside as the Bayside City Council Lease Register (25 Oct 2021) shows the Mansion being leased to Star of the Sea (Commercial Non Retail Lease) for $129979 per annum with the lease expiring in 2041, and Vasey facilities, both the Hostel and Day Therapy Centre, are leased (Community Lease) to Vasey RSL Care Ltd


      2. I am not aware of any tours of the house. It seems to be fully leased to Star of the Sea and I am surprised to see it leased out beyond 2040. The council’s emphasis seems to be on Bililla which, to me, is nowhere as imposing as Kamesburgh. While the gardens seem to be fairly well maintained I think the state of part of the North Rd fence, particularly the gate posts at the main entrance, is poor and concerning.


  2. I have just walked through it and never cease to be amazed by the big trees.Looking at the water colour painting it seems the trees were planted after the mansion was built.So that makes them well over 100 hundred years old.One tree has a name on it – it’s a sugar gum.I have looked it up and it’s a species of eucalypt that is native to South Australia.So how did the seed get to Melbourne?And why was it chosen to grow in these gardens?Interesting.


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