04 March, 2014

Schofield Cottage - Healesville

For our recent fifth visit to Healesville we stayed at Schofield Cottage, which is just out of the township on Mt Riddell Road, and is located behind an old guest house amidst a large garden.

In my bush walking days I climbed the steep Mt Riddell on two occasions.

Liz, the owner of the property, intends opening up a section of the guest house which she is currently renovating. We told Liz that the last time we stayed at a guest house in Marysville was during the first two nights of our honeymoon in May 1959. Unfortunately, Marylands Guest House was burnt down in the bushfires of 2009: fifty years after our marriage. Following our chat about tourism and guest houses in years gone by, Liz lent us a book which detailed the history of tourism and guest houses in Healesville.

Some 130 guest houses have been recorded in the Healesville / Toolangi area; the 1920s been the peak period of the guest house era. In 1950, there were still about 40 guest houses operating in Healesville, which together with the town’s hotels provided about 2,000 beds, more than any other tourist resort in Victoria.

Set in 7 acres, Schofield, established 1922, was a large guest house capable in its heyday of accommodating up to 50 guests. It offered the typical amenities and facilities of a local guest house of the 1930s. In the early 1960s business was declining and the local doctor, Stewart Wilcox, suggested to the owners that Healesville needed a Special Accommodation Centre. Schofield became that in 1968.

Reference: Free From City Cares: The story of Healesville’s Guest Houses by Bryn Jones.

After lunch one day we drove out along Mt St Leonards Road (old Myers Creek Road) for about 8 km to look at the Strathven which is the only old style guest house operating in the Healesville area.

On our first day we visited the Healesville Sanctuary. The main highlights of the visit were Tales from Platypus Creek and Spirit of the Sky, Bird Show. 

The plaque contains an explanation of the aboriginal myth on the origins of the platypus.

Click on photos for larger version

Throughout our tour we noted that the links with aboriginal history and culture were acknowledged at different spots around the sanctuary where visitors can stop and listen to stories about the Coranderk Tribe, which originally inhabited this region. Patsy and I noted that the stories were similar to those we had read about during our visit to the Tarrawarra Art Gallery in November 2013 ( see Country Towns 8: Chum Creek). There stands at one of these spots an impressive statue commemorating William Barak. A much admired aboriginal. You can imagine my disappointment at not been able to take a photo of the statue as my camera's battery needed recharging.

William Barak was educated at the Yarra Mission School in Narrm (Melbourne), and was a tracker in the Native Police before, as his father had done, becoming ngurungaeta (clan leader). Known as energetic, charismatic and mild mannered, he spent most of his life at Coranderk Reserve, a self sufficient Aboriginal farming community in Healesville. Barak campaigned to protect 
Coranderk, worked to improve cross-cultural understanding and created many unique artworks and artefacts leaving a rich cultural legacy for future generations.

Eating out is a feature of our short stays in Healesville and elsewhere. The Healesville region offers plenty of choices. We enjoyed lunches at the Tokar Estate Restaurant, and The Innocent Bystander. Prior to leaving Tokar Estate we purchased two bottles of the red wine we drank during lunch. 

The Innocent Bystander is architecturally interesting as it houses wine production, a restaurant and a shop where you can taste wine and purchase bread, pastry,cheese, coffee, and wine. After a delightful lunch(best pizza I've ever had) we returned to our car with smiles of contentment and bags of goodies glued to our hands.

Eludae Cafe is ideal for light meals and coffee. The waitress informed us that Eludae is a Latin word meaning scrumptious. Google was not able to confirm this for me. Be that as it may, one can certainly get a scrumptious meal at the cafe.

Unfortunately, lack of time stopped us from enjoying afternoon tea at the Blueberry Farm at Badgers Creek. We also noted that you can also drive to Toolangi for an enjoyable afternoon tea.

Our mini-film festival was certainly mini for of the 5 nights available we only watched 2 films: Mata Hari starring Greta Garbo, and The Bank Job an English film based on a true story. CD music and reading also helped pass the time.

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