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one of the rooms at Rupertswood


Thursday, June 20, 2002
We sent Brendon off to check out the birthplace of the Ashes.

Sir William Clarke was an amazingly wealthy pastoralist. His father owned land equal to the size of Great Britain. For his services to the Colony of Victoria, Queen Victoria bestowed a hereditary baronetcy upon William the younger, making him the first Australia-born baron.

Between 1874 and 1876, Sir William built Rupertswood, a 50 room mansion standing on 13,000 hectares at the junction of Jackson Creek and the streams which flow through the town of Sunbury.

Sir William and Lady Clarke delighted in entertaining, and Dame Nellie Melba has been amongst the many visitors to Rupertswood.

Such was Sir William's influence that when the rail line from Melbourne was being built, he had a detour through his property added to the plans, complete with station.

Rupertswood was where the much sought-after cricketing trophy, The Ashes, originated. In 1882, an Australia XI played an English XI at The Oval in London. The Australian side unexpectedly won, causing a tongue-in-cheek obituary to be placed in the following day's Sporting Times, announcing the death of English cricket. Part of it read, "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia".

A side was quickly assembled to sail to the antipodes to win back British pride. Travelling to Australia on the same ship was the president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, Sir William Clarke, and his family. They invited the England XI to spend Christmas and New Year at Rupertswood.

After a long lunch, Sir William suggested a game between the visitors and the locals. It is believed the visitors won, and as a light-hearted gesture, Lady Clarke burned the bails, put them in an urn and presented them to the England captain as an ongoing trophy.

The Salesian fathers now own Rupertswood and run a school within the grounds, but the grand old Victorian mansion is open to visitors wishing to partake of a genteel lifestyle long gone by. It is the perfect venue for weddings, conferences and private parties.

The imposing building stands at the end of a long, winding driveway, nestled amongst mature trees. Visitors are greeted by a doorman in 1880s military uniform, making it easy to be whisked back in time.

There are 11 rooms to choose from, all with ensuites and antiques. The only reproductions are beds and lamps. Rooms range from what were once servants' quarters to master bedrooms where royalty has stayed.

General rooms include a sunroom, smoking room and quaint reading nook in the tower. There is a grand library which is certainly well worth a visit.

In-house services include massage, hairdressing and babysitting. Children are welcome with single beds and high chairs available.

The grounds have an apple orchard, beautiful wisteria vines, a vegetable patch of over half a hectare, hives producing honey for the house, the train station and views of the Salesians' dairy.

Visitors like to explore the nearby wine region of the Macedon Ranges, Mt Macedon's beautiful gardens, Daylesford's spa and health baths and the historic towns of Kyneton, Woodend, Trentham and the legendary Hanging Rock area. There's also plenty of bushwalking, horseriding and fishing to be done.


Sunbury, 40 kilometres north of Melbourne.


Rupertswood stays start at $160 per couple per night, including breakfast. Other meals can be provided by arrangement. Open all year round.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

3 Macedon Street
Sunbury 3429
Ph: (03) 9740 5020
Fax: (03) 9740 3686

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