Kamesburgh Gardens — History

Kamesburgh Gardens is one of the most famous sites in Melbourne. Home to a vast array of imported floral displays, the gardens and glorious mansio have a rich and vibrant history, dating back to the 19th century. Serendipity adore the striking aesthetic of the colonial architecture and lush green hues of the perfectly maintained garden beds.

The seaside suburb of Brighton first came into being in the middle of the 19th century, when propertier Henry Dendy purchased 5,120 acres of Port Phillip Land. When the town was surveyed in 1841, it was defined by the crescent-shaped street layout which remains today, and subdivided allotments offered for sale. The area soon became “the Brighton Estate”, and Dendy’s site for his own home was named “Brighton park”. The original boundary streets:  North Road, East Boundary Road and South Road still stand today.

The Kamesburgh Mansion, or Anzac Hostel, residing in the beautiful surrounds of the historic Kamesburgh Gardens, dates back to 1873. Architect Lloyd Tayler built the stunning old house for William Kerr Thompson, who lived there until 1886. The property was eventually placed in the hands of the Repatriation Department for the care of severely incapacitated soldiers after the war, thanks to a generous donation of ₤25,000 from a wealthy local family. From the end of the 19th century to the late 1920s the mansion operated as a healthcare centre. On the 5th of July, 1919, Anzac Hostel, opened to care for wounded soldiers, with a capacity of twenty-five beds and employing seven nurses. Until 1995, when the hostel closed its doors, the Australian Red Cross Society operated out of the grand old Victorian building, offering medical treatment and amenities.

At Serendipity we just love the sweeping lawns, leading up to this majestic old building. Kamesburgh is named after the Scottish seaside resort town on the Island of Bute. The original building had forty rooms, including nineteen bedrooms. A local artist, Charles Stewart Patterson, painted exquisite floral designs on the ceilings of all the main bedroom, opening out onto the west veranda. When entering the mansion through the main hall you’ll see an original grand staircase, an incredible 35 feet long.

The history of the grounds at Kamesburgh are equally intriguing. The gardens host a rich collection of tree species popular during the 19th century, making you feel like you’ve travelled back in time to an era of spectacular English garden displays. Serendipity appreciates the ancient floral specimens and the fantastic care and attention to detail that goes into maintaining such a special garden. Unique to Kamesburgh is the extensive orchard, offering seasonal produce like peaches, plums, locquats, quince, pears, apples and citrus trees.

This Heritage listed property is ideal for anyone looking for traditional elegance and glamour. The original gate and fence are still intact and provide a frame from the street to view the magnificent mansion. Along North Road is a mature avenue of trees, complementing the distinguished atmosphere of the gardens and mansion. The drive, also an original feature of the vast property, invites guests into the house through a sweeping trail from the street. Entering through the ornamental iron gates, fixed in iconic Melbourne bluestone, the sloping green lawns glimmer in the sunlight. Planted with a large and vast collection of ornamental trees and shrubs, based on the original landscaping of the 19th century the neat garden beds draw visitors across the manicured grass to the grand old building. From the drive a good view is obtained of the lower part of the lawn, which is dotted with specimen trees, and diversified with neatly-designed flower beds.


Surrounded by lush gardens, the sandstone mansion is one of the Bayside’s most breathtaking features. The property is located conveniently close to transport, main roads and plenty of car parks. Incredibly, despite its location, the gardens have acquired a secluded, quiet and peaceful atmosphere. At Serendipity we love the private and isolated feel that this location provides. You truly do get the best of both worlds, with the convenience of an easy to get to spot, and the peaceful tranquility of the Kamesburgh Gardens.

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