5 Minutes with the Owner of The Lodge at Clunes

When James and Jack found an old derelict homestead on eBay for a ridiculous $15,000 little did they realise the adventure that they, and the house, were about to embark upon. They decided to take the biggest gamble of their lives and cut the house in two to be reassembled in Clunes, one of the most picturesque and historic towns in Australia.
The Lodge at Clunes - Clunes Accommodation

Tell us something about your property.  What style of property is it (miner’s cottage, new build, villa, farm)?

It is a huge double fronted Victorian with 14 foot high ceilings built right on the cusp of the Edwardian Era with period features like glazed tiles and stained glass from both. The house has only had three owners and the original title still hangs just inside the front doorway.

It was built as the station master’s house in Williamstown in 1904 and as such, it was one of the grandest homes in the area. We saw the old beauty being offered for sale (and removal) on eBay for only $15,000! We fell in love immediately and knew we had to rescue the old girl.

The first thing we had to do was get it safely to our block of land in Clunes. There’s probably nothing more nerve-wracking than watching your house coming in pieces down the highway!

After getting the house safely to Clunes, what was the next step?

Moving a house is a completely unique experience in so many ways. The guy who moved it for us only had three fingers and by the end, I was surprised he actually had that many!

We had so many adventures along the way, from exposing and restoring the old floor boards, to the stained glass windows, fireplaces and cornice work on the 14-foot ceilings.

It was bloody hard work but much like childbirth a true labour of love. Unlike a new build or a normal renovation from the very start of this project we really did have the sense that we were custodians of history, that we had an obligation to preserve and be true to the DNA of the house.

To see her emerge from the dilapidated state we found her in and returned to the grandeur of her former life, perched ever so regally on the highest hill overlooking Clunes, has been not just one of life’s great adventures, but a true honour as well.

What was your inspiration when creating your holiday home?

We have drawn inspiration from the rich gold mining history of the town, its unique focus on literature as a world renowned Booktown, along with celebrating the many secrets of a long glamorous life that still permeates each and every room of the house. The stature of the house dictated the design brief with a focus on old-fashioned virtues of grace and elegance while incorporating new age luxury and comfort.

But more than this we realised that most guests, like ourselves, when we book a weekend away, are looking for something removed from the every day – for a sense of escape and adventure. Because of that we really did set out to create a little bit of wow or whimsy in every room – from the huge farmhouse kitchen to the grand Empire library, the Lincoln bedroom and the very romantic and evocative Romeo and Juliet suite.

The Lodge at Clunes - Clunes Accommodation

Why did you choose this region as the location for your holiday home?

We have holidayed in Daylesford for many years and simply love the excitement of packing the car up and heading off for that age old English tradition of a weekend in the country.

Clunes represents a new frontier and feels to us like a smaller more intimate version of what we found in Daylesford 20 years ago before the hordes from Melbourne discovered it. Clunes has the intrinsic charm of a wee country town yet is close enough to all the things we love about Daylesford and surrounds. Clunes is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity and even those that haven’t visited before may recognise the famous historic streetscape as it has been featured in films including Mad Max and Ned Kelly and international TV series like The Leftovers and Tomorrow When the War Began.

The Lodge at Clunes - Clunes Accommodation

What is your favourite part of the property?

That is hard to pin down as the house evolves with the seasons, with Spring being a standout when the traditional front garden is in full bloom. The view from the back deck is one of the best vantage points to take in sunsets over the corrugated roofs and church steeples of the old town. There’s no better place for a summer BBQ and a beer or two with good mates. But in winter it is the pure decadence of waking up late in the four poster bed, a smart pre-dinner drink by the fire in the Empire library and a long lingering roast around the huge table with family and friends. Our guests tell us this is one of the joys of the house, slowing down and smelling the roses, something too many of us never find the time to do in our fast-paced city lives.

What sort of experience do you want your guests to have when staying at your property?

Our aim has always been to recreate a bygone era of relaxation and old-fashioned values like those decadent dinners we mentioned, curling up by a fire with a good book or spending a night listening to our collection of vintage vinyl records. There’s nothing better in the world than nights like that. Simple and uncomplicated.

The Lodge at Clunes - Clunes Accommodation

Do you have a favourite village or hamlet to visit near Clunes and what do you like about it?

Talbot, Creswick, Castlemaine, Ballarat all have fabulous weekend markets, as does Clunes, and the towns themselves are all well worth a visit.

What are your top tips for places to eat and things to do in the region?

Weekend visitors cannot miss Friday night drinks at The Gallery just a 5-minute walk into town. This is the quintessential country experience where locals embrace visitors as one of their own. You can walk in any week, not know anyone, and by the time you leave it’s almost impossible not to have met everyone there, from farmers to wine makers, local artists and professionals from the city.

There are numerous options for a meal out with a number of new venues that have opened over the last year. Two standouts in the main street are Bread & Circus Provedore and Quigley and Clarke which offer Melbourne quality service but rich country style cuisine and ambience. The local bakery and Widow Twanky’s provide lighter but delicious alternatives and just a short drive away in Talbot you will find the Talbot Provedore & Eatery, well worth the ten-minute trip. Tuki Trout Farm is definitely worth a visit to try your luck catching a fish or just for a delicious meal.  A little further afield Creswick has some great options such as a very authentic French bakery Le Peche Gourmand, and the Farmers Arms for an awesome pub meal.

The Lodge @ Clunes - Clunes Accommodation

If you were to create an itinerary for a perfect weekend stay in Clunes, from check in to check out, what would this include?

Day 1
Check in at The Lodge @ Clunes
If it is a Friday put a roast in the oven and wander down to The Gallery, just 5 minutes away for pre-dinner drinks by the fire.
Day 2
Mandatory sleep in, farmhouse breakfast in main street, followed by a walk through town and up around the old mines. Spend the afternoon curled up with a book in the library and a night playing board games, cards or even charades. All the while listening, even dancing if the mood takes you, to our collection of vintage vinyl records.
Day 3
If it’s the second Sunday of the month, you must check out the Clunes Farmers Market to stock up on some delicious local produce, and then linger a while longer for lunch to get the most out of your weekend getaway. Swing past La Peche Gourmand on your way through Creswick and if you’ve got the kids in tow, head to The Maze House for an afternoon of fun activities.

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What Guests are Saying about The Lodge @ Clunes

What a great addition to Clunes! Generous provisions, lots of atmosphere, interesting and comfortable. Everything in working order. Lovely to stay at accommodation where the little things have been provided, eg bowls and spoons. Makes getting a meal together easy. Loved the music and the fires……loved everything! Make your way to Clunes and use it as a base to explore the Region. The Lodge will not disappoint!

Anne-Maree – January 2015

The Lodge was a beautiful property and we loved all the quirky features. There were so many thoughtful gestures like the freshly baked bread and the welcome hamper. We loved all the music including the record player and the electric blankets were great.

Amanda – July 2015

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