The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) is a community-based, non-government organisation committed to promoting and conserving Australia's indigenous, natural and historic heritage places of cultural significance in Victoria. It was founded in 1956. The National Trust Heritage Register is the most comprehensive single heritage register in Victoria, covering all types of cultural and natural heritage, including buildings, trees, landscapes, gardens, public art and pipe organs. The Register has a system of recording heritage places and important entries are Classified – with their significance being graded from Local to international. Oak Dene was Classified 1984 as of regional significance with the following entry:
“An experimental building of 1907 by the architect and engineer Gerard Wight, in which a conscious attempt is made to develop a rational Australian style and construction that has been adapted to hot dry areas. This is more particularly reflected in the use of galvanised iron walls packed with sawdust. Less rational, but even more unusual, are the banded verandah posts.”
Owners of Classified buildings can commission a smart plaque from the Trust, cast in bronze, for affixing to their building. We have done this and are very proud of the results:
Thanks as ever to Bradley Warde our expert builder who rose to the possibly unique challenge of getting bronze to stick invisibly to corrugated iron!
About the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) from Wikipedia:
With threats to fine colonial mansions in Sydney, the first National Trust in Australia was established in New South Wales in 1945. In Victoria, where the heritage of ornate land boom buildings was less valued, it took some time for heritage advocates to get organised. The publication in 1953 of the popular Early Melbourne Architecture 1840-1888, by artist, writer, and public speaker Maie Casey was the first attempt at raising awareness.
In the following months, major figures from society, the arts, town planning and architecture in Melbourne began to discuss the setting up of Trust similar to that in Britain and NSW. Spurred by the demolition of the spectacular 1870 mansion Wendrew in Toorak in 1954, and the likely imminent sale of the nearby grand colonial estate Como House, a series of ever larger meetings were held, culminating in the formation of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) in May 1956, as a charity, with its first aim being the acquisition of Como. A remarkable feature of the people who established the Trust was the number of prominent and influential people, and "the close network of family and business between them". These figures included author Joan, her husband Daryl Lindsay, Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, R T M Pescott, director of the Museum of Victoria, architect and critic Robin Boyd, Maie Casey and her husband politician Richard Casey, Noel and Elizabeth Goss, architect Roy Simpson, and University of Melbourne Professor of Architecture Brian Lewis. Early Patrons included Sir Dallas Brooks and Lady Brooks, Sir Owen Dixon, Lord Baillieu, Lady Grimwade and Lady Murdoch.
The Trust manages 38 properties in the state, 30 of which it owns, and eight of which are properties on Crown land. There are 24 National Trust properties regularly open to the public. The most well-known include the historic cell block known as the Old Melbourne Gaol in Melbourne, the Melbourne Maritime Museum in Southbank which includes the restored ship the Polly Woodside, and the historic mansion and gardens of the Rippon Lea Estate in Elsternwick and Como House in Toorak.
The west veranda at Oak Dene proved the perfect venue for our first basketry workshop. Eight enthusiastic weavers had a fabulous day, with great company, coffee and cake, autumn light and a skilled teacher. Hand dyed raffia was coiled and stitched and all went home with their completed basket .
Part of Oak Dene’s interesting history is the pioneer background in Australia of the Wight family. Since Davydd Shaw wrote this article, new evidence had been discovered confirming that the original garden was designed by Charles “Bogue” Luffman, then director Burnley Horticultural College.
We are delighted that both the Shepparton News and Kyabram Free Press published articles about Oak Dene in January. Please enlarge to read the great text by Gus Underwood:
In our garden is a magnificent London Plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia) – nearly 30 meters high and with a striking horizontal bough formation. The National Trust of Australia maintains a register of Significant Trees and this has long featured ours. This month however is Australian Heritage Month and the tree has made the shortlist of Victorian Tree of the Year.
We would dearly love to win this accolade, which the tree deserves, but to do so will need your help. The link below takes you to a Facebook page from where you can go to the National Trust site for images of the shortlist. Assuming that you agree that ours is the finest and wish to vote, you need to like our tree on the Facebook post. If you don’t use FB, please ask someone who does to cast your vote. Any Facebookers, please post and share. If you are minded, please forward this email to any connections you have who may be interested. Going viral when referring to an old tree isn’t normally a good outcome, but this time we need it! Voting closes on May 18th.
Gillian was invited by the Kyabram Garden Club to be the speaker at their February meeting. She outlined some of the history of Oak Dene - both the house and the garden - and conducted a tour of the property later the same day.
To read the text of the talk, please click on this link: