The bed was a huge kingsize one. The mattress was topped with a huge feather doona. When we woke the next morning, our bodies had sunk into the soft feathers that had formed a well around us during the night. It was difficult to get out of bed in more ways than one!
Main Entrance to Sofitel Mansion & Spa
The beautiful indoor pool
Steve took Midget out for a drive and stroll around a park for half and hour. I took in some much needed exercise in the indoor swimming pool before taking a lovely bath.
At breakfast they also had some interesting food and it was beautifully presented. Steve had smoked kippers and I had lovely fruit salad with king island yoghurt with cinnamon in it. We also got free entrance to Werribee Mansion and gardens while staying at the hotel so we decided to take a walk around.
Werribee Mansion was built by a couple of Scottish brothers in 1877. It’s the largest mansion we’ve ever seen in Australia. They must have done really well out of their 900,000 acres they originally had in the area. Apparently they only come out in the 1850s and managed to make their fortunes quite early in the piece. In 1927 it was sold to the Catholic Church who decided to turn it into a seminary. They built the large section to the right of the photo that’s more grey than the sandstone colour of the original mansion. This is the section that has been transformed into the Sofitel hotel.
the Werribee Mansion (sandstone section) and to the right the later addition of the church wing - now the Sofitel section with new 1990s additions behind that
The grounds have been whittled away over the years. The church advertisement showed some 900 odd acres for sale at the time that either the church bought it, or sold it. National Parks now run the site. Most of the grounds are a top quality equestrian facility and there are 1080 baits everywhere so hence no dogs allowed.
The grounds of the Mansion are still really large and we still managed to get lost trying to find the grotto. We were glad we did find it as it was exquisitely decorated by the family. They had collected shells and knuckle bones from the sheep and made beautiful patterns on the walls and floors of the grotto. It was beautifully preserved with only a few missing.
The grotto sat on a lovely lake. It was covered in succulents and was a huge dome shape. It also had stone steps you climbed up and walked around the dome and over the top. The grotto was accessed by a wooden jetty out from the land.
the Grotto on the lake
the inside of the grotto
The trees on site are spectacular. 90% are European imports but are still getting watered in the water restrictions that Melbourne is inflicted with, it’s a lovely sight to see.
The Mansion was spectacular. They found the inventory of the house and most of the furniture was still there or was bought back. They even found scraps of fabric on some of the chairs and sent it off to London to have more of the original stuff made and sent back to out to recover all furnishings and curtains for the room. The did the same with some wall papers too! In 1891 one of the brothers returned to England and purchased masters artworks at an auction and bought them back to the house. 75% of these are still in the house.
The rear of the gardens finds a really interesting art sculpture park, the original polo field – still in use today, and the original farm house that was built prior to the mansion being built.
The weather was hotting up, so we decided we should head back to Geelong and see what’s going on there since we last passed through. They had done a great deal of renovations to their waterfront and had started converting their old factories into apartments and building some new ones too.
the new Geelong foreshore
We then decided we should head back to our old favourite Williamstown to spend the night. We wandered around the shops and were really surprised to find so many dead gardens. Geelong had Level 4 Water Restrictions. Williamstown has only Level 3a Water Restrictions. I haven’t been able to find out about Level 4 – but its more severe than 3a. With 3a in Melbourne you aren’t allowed to water lawns. Gardens can be watered by dripper system or hand held hose from 6am to 8am each morning or midnight to 2am. No car washing etc. A lady in the supermarket was complaining to her customer that her neighbour was washing his car and hosing his driveway on a regular basis. I can’t believe people will do that when everyone knows how precious it is.
Sorry for the delay in posting the blog to our avid readers. The weather has been reeking havoc with sleep and just being able to sit somewhere cool and type has been difficult. Its amazing how time consuming writing the blog is; on top of getting the photos off the camera, resizing them for the blog and saving them to another file, uploading them to the blog site then inserting them into the text. Its really easy to loose hours on a few pages, but its really great to hear so many people are enjoying reading them. I know we’re going to have a great record of our trip too! Thanks for your comments!