221 TALISKER HOMESTEAD ROAD, MERINO, GLENELG SHIREGoogle Maps and Google Streetview
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Level of Significance
Recommended for Heritage Overlay
Continues as a pastoral property and residence Talisker was built for Alexander Magnus and Caroline Macleod and designed by Melbourne architect Charles D'Ebro in 1901. Importantly, the original drawings survive and are held in the State Library (SLV, Architectural Drawings collection, Residences, Acc No. H91.148/1, H92.148/2). Two early photographs of Talisker exist showing the front elevation and a view from the side showing the back elevation across the homestead to a valley beyond (SLV, Acc. No. H91.148/3, H91.148/4). Very Good 3 Developing local, regional and national economies
Talisker is a large single storey Edwardian homestead of 'Ballarat black' bricks with red brick bands and a corrugated metal roof. The bricks are believed to have been railed to Merino and then hauled to the site by bullock dray (John McIntosh, pers. comm., 11/10.06). The facade is highly embellished with Edwardian architectural elements including a timber posted verandah, gables, banded brickwork and tuck-pointing. Over the front door, there is a crest with a bull's head set between two flags and a banner with the motto 'Hold Fast' and the name 'Talisker'. By contrast, the rear of the "U" shaped plan is unadorned apart from the device of placing three windows together in the wall. The whole composition of the building is dominated by a massive three-level tower, including a room on the first floor with a large Elizabethan style box window, and an open balcony on the second floor. The roof of the tower is double-curved, and is supported on turned timber columns. The tower is an Edwardian equivalent of the tall slender tower on Narrapumelap at Skipton. It is designed to allow an elevated view of the property below and is intended as much to be seen from a distance.
Talisker has a fairly typical homestead form from the nineteenth century with a long verandah to the front elevation. This is overlaid with Edwardian building elements such as gable ends decorated with timber strapping, substantial timber posts, capitals and friezes. The most unusual elements are the large bay window with brick parapet that extends through the roof and the tower. The plan separates the various functions of the household and the people who lived and worked there. 'The house, when completed, covered eighty-six squares [approximately 860m2] and comprised twenty-five rooms in three wings. The section designed for the servants' quarters, contained two maid's rooms, a large kitchen, laundry, meat room, a cream room with its huge slate topped benches and fly proofed safes, a scullery, servery, pantry and a cellar' (Leake, pp. 45).
The interior is finely crafted with extensive use of timber joinery and plaster cornice decoration. The front door and sidelights are of decorative coloured leadlight glass and the joinery appears to be either polished or wood grained. The stair spandrel is panelled and the handrail and balusters of polished timber. Some doors have an unusual panelled detailing. There is an art nouveau inspired painted frieze to at least one room, and some ceilings are of polished timber. The exterior and interior of Talisker are in excellent condition and the architectural details appear to be intact in the main rooms.
Talisker may be compared with Charles D'Ebro's other large homestead commission of Langi Willi built in 1893, the architectural drawings for which also survive (SLV, Acc No. H37688/1-10). Langi Willi is a picturesque composition including a mock castellated tower, an Elizabethan window similar to the one at Talisker and Arts and Crafts roof forms. By comparison, Talisker is a more modest example of the Edwardian style in a traditional homestead plan. It can also be compared with contemporary homesteads designed or remodelled by other leading architects. The similar but smaller Mount Koroite Homestead at Coleraine, which was remodelled for J.F. Kirby supposedly on the winnings of the 1911 Melbourne Cup, has not yet been attributed to any architect. The architect, Guyon Purchas remodelled Purrumbete at Camperdown in 1901 for the Manifold family. The interiors of Purrumbete are more richly Art Nouveau with Robert Prentzel carvings featuring Australian motifs and Walter Withers murals depicting the history of the Manifolds. Prentzel carvings also contribute to the interiors of Glenormiston, remodelled in 1908 for the Black family but its exterior is a late interpretation of the Italianate style. Other Western district homesteads include Ettrick at Derrinallum and Woolongoon at Mortlake.
The homestead is approached by a sweeping drive and enhanced by its garden. Two mature Araucaria Bidwillii (Bunya Bunya pines) survive as a pair half way along the drive. The garden is compartmentalised in the conventional manner. The front garden is laid out formally with a large circular bed and path at its centre. It overlooks the valleys of Miakite or Henty Creek and Tea Tree Creek towards a vast pastoral landscape in all directions. A Prunus dulcis, (Almond) tree survives at the north-west corner of the homestead. To the north west of the main homestead, on a slope, there are the remnants of an extensive orchard. This was once part of a much larger subsistence garden, with vegetable beds. There are a number of smaller trees immediately to the north of the house, in particular, a fine example of Brachychiton acerfolius (Kurrajong). To the south there is a 'wild' garden. It contains many original plantings now mature, if not senescent including many different types of Prunus spp. and Crataegus spp., an Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Bunya Pine), Washingtonia filifera, as well as many bulbs and shrubs. Unfortunately, this area has fallen into disrepair and many of the fine specimen trees, such as the Araucaria bidwillii and the Washingtonia filifera are now in demise. The wild garden extends some 600m down the hill, overlooking the Wurt Wurt Creek valley. The wild garden appears to date from the 1920s, whereas the rest of the garden and most of the significant trees probably date from the same time as the main homestead. The rear garden is a plain service yard, with an underground well, but it does include two significant mature trees, a Quercus robur (English Oak) and a Corymbia ficifolia (Red Flowering Gum).
3.5 Developing primary production
3.5.1 Grazing stock
3.5.3 Developing agricultural industries
5.8 Working on the land
8 Developing Australia's Cultural Life
8.10 Pursuing excellence in the arts and sciences
8.10.3 Designing and building fine buildings
Talisker was built for Alexander Magnus and Caroline Macleod and designed by Melbourne architect Charles D'Ebro in 1901. Importantly, the original drawings survive and are held in the State Library (SLV, Architectural Drawings collection, Residences, Acc No. H91.148/1, H92.148/2). Two early photographs of Talisker exist showing the front elevation and a view from the side showing the back elevation across the homestead to a valley beyond (SLV, Acc. No. H91.148/3, H91.148/4). Very Good 3 Developing local, regional and national economies
Very Good 3 Developing local, regional and national economies