Marybrooke is nestled on the edge of the majestic Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges.
The magnificent National Trust listed reception centre and guest house is the perfect one-stop destination for your wedding ceremony & reception, function or conference.
Built in 1940, Marybrooke began as the grandest guest house in a chain of six guest houses all using the pre-fix “Mary” designed and built by Eric Dowdle between 1927 and 1940. Built on the site of an earlier guest house named Grendon which burned down in the 1930s, Marybrooke is registered as a socially, historically and architecturally significant property. Over recent years the property has undergone extensive renovations to restore and reinstate the building to reflect its original charm and elegance. With a restaurant & bar named PJ’s Restaurant, four function rooms and an indoor wedding ceremony area, Marybrooke also offers 20 boutique four star accommodation suites.
The advertisement below is from “THE ARGUS” Newspaper, Wednesday 17th January 1940.
Back in 1966 Marybrooke was purchased by Jack Farr and his family. It was then well known as The Baron of Beef. This medieval theatre style restaurant ran until 1988 with features such as a bagpiper, maid marion’s, court jester and other English traditions.
The building was unused until 1992 when the building was extensively restored and renovated to reflect its original charm and elegance. It was reopened in 2000 as Marybrooke Manor and now operates as a wedding and function center with accommodation.
Over recent years Marybrooke Manor has undergone further extensive refurbishment to restore and reinstate the building to reflect its original charm and elegance. With a large dining room, separate wedding ceremony space, other function rooms and restaurant along with 19 stunning luxurious boutique accommodation suites, Marybrooke has a lot to offer.
Marybrooke Team Members
Andrew & Deborah own Marybrooke Manor but prefer to regard themselves as custodians of the property for others to enjoy well into the future.
Duane is Head Chef. With many years of experience across restaurants and event venues, Duane has a passion for ensuring high standards are met and that people enjoy their culinary experience.
Symon is our Sous Chef. He has amazing skills as a Pastry Chef.
Nadine Richmond is our Senior Wedding Co-ordinator. Nadine has extensive experience in all aspects of hospitality including Weddings, Corporate work and Formal Dining. She is a very down-to-earth and delightful host and looks forward to assisting you with any enquiries you may have.
Suzanna and Rachael provide excellent support both at events and on front desk reception.
The entire team at Marybrooke is always striving to deliver first class quality service to all our clients. We look forward to welcoming you.
Marybrooke’s history in detail
Marybrooke Manor was built on the site of an earlier guest house named Grendon. David and Lucy Ray owned the property at the start of 1910. By 1912 George Allen Gilmour of the Kallista Nurseries had purchased the property.
Adrien Charles Mountain and his wife Ethel acquired the property sometime in 1913 & then set about rebuilding & enlarging the house.
Mrs Mountain ran Grendon as a guest house & conference centre. It is quite probable that the family didn’t need the income from the guest house as Adrien Mountain has been a successful engineer with the City of Sydney until 1887 when at the age of about 39 he joined the engineers office of the City of Melbourne attaining the prominent position of City Surveyor before he retired at 66 in 1915.
Mrs Mountain held a number of garden parties or fetes in the grounds of the property in order to raise money for the eye & ear hospital & the girl guides. On different occasions Lady Forster, wife of the Governor General, Lady Stradbroke and Lady Somers, wives of successive Governors of Victoria were present & each planted a tree in the gardens. These survived a fire and became part of the grounds surrounding Marybrooke.
Further tragedy struck Grendon when a kitchen fire quickly took hold of the timber building & completely destroyed Sherbrooke’s popular guest house.
As the newspaper reported at the time, “Fire breaking out in the kitchen at Midnight on Sunday quickly destroyed Grendon, Kallista, a two-story guest house which with it’s furnishings was valued at 6,000 pounds. Situated on the road which connects Kallista with Sherbrooke, the house was owned by Mrs Mountain. In response to a telephone message the fire brigade arrived from Belgrave after a three-mile journey at 12.30am. Lack of water handicapped the firemen. Because the fire spread swiftly through the wooden building few of the 20 guests were able to save any of their belongings. The presence of mind of “Bud” Astaire, a houseboy, aged 18 years resulted in the saving of the lives of Donald Price, a younger boy, who was sleeping in an out-house and an elderly woman who had re-entered the house to save some belongings. Astaire followed her and carried her to safety. Price, an orphan, had been working at the guest house only a few days. Among the guests were the government statist (Mr O. Gawler) and his wife and Dr. Constance Ellis of Collins Street, all of whom have returned to Melbourne”.
James Eric Dowdle, more commonly known as Eric Dowdle, was born of English parentage in Richmond, Victoria in 1892 and died in 1964 at the age of 72. Eric trained as a carpenter & joiner before turning his hand to building. After the 1914-1918 war he built many war service homes in the Hampton area.
As a young man Eric was a keen trout fisherman and frequented the Marysville district in search of the elusive rainbow trout. During this period he became aware of the tourist potential of the area. Together with his family he established the Mary Chain – all guest houses.
His 1st guest house was Marylands which was completed in 1927, designed to accommodate 145 guests. Marylands proved to be such a success that Eric went on to build Mary-Lyn, Mary-Lodge, Mary-Meadows (all at Marysville) and Mary-Port (at Mt Martha) & finally Marybrooke. The Mary pre-fix was chosen because it was thought guests would associate it with the pleasant environment of Marysville.
Marybrooke was completed in 1940 and was the grandest of the chain of guest houses. Some of the rooms contained what were then a novel feature – ensuite bathrooms. There was full hot & cold running water & strip heating in the dining room & along the passages. It’s structure differed from the other guest houses in that the bedroom wing was curved in order to allow it to nestle into the hill & to eliminate the monotony of straight passages. All the large beams were procured from the Marysville bush & shaped with a broad axe. Stone for the stone wing of the house was procured from David Mitchell’s lime quarries. Eric Dowdle had planned another large wing of bedrooms to project out from the stone section on the other side but, due to wartime restrictions this was not achieved.
Water supply could only be obtained from a small spring in the Sherbrooke Forest, necessitating the construction of large water storage tanks at the rear of the property. However the garages & staff quarters also built at the back of Marybrooke served to conceal these from visitors. These water tanks still exist today, however the staff quarters have been demolished. The main building is a four-story timber framed structure of mock Tudor design. The construction is unusual in that the external rough render was applied direct to the core gated cement panels with the corrugation running horizontally. Several dormer windows break through the steep iron roof.
In 1942 Marybrooke was taken over by the Royal Childrens’ Hospital. A children’s rest home was established nearby to accommodate sickly children from the capital cities & Marybrooke was used to accommodate the nurses & other staff who worked at the rest home.
The Mary guesthouses managed to stay busy even through the tough times, thanks to Eric Dowdle’s knack for staying abreast of trends and up to date technology, providing facilities such a private bathrooms.
In the 1960’s when holiday makers’ preference for Motel-style accommodation was well established, Marybrooke was accommodating 106 guests and added to it’s features this time a TV theatre.
After the war the Mary guesthouses continued to be operated by the Dowdle family who placed managers in each house. During the 1960s, due to extreme staff shortages and difficulty in enforcing property management principles the family decided to sell or lease the guest houses. Marybrooke was reputedly the most profitable of the guest houses so it was the last to be sold.
In 1968 Marybrooke was purchased by Jack Farr, a nurseryman & his family who lived opposite the guest house. The lower stone storey was turned into a restaurant well known as the Baron of Beef and was served by the kitchen in the upper story. This medieval theatre style restaurant ran till 1988 with features such as bagpiper, Maid Marion’s, court jester & other English traditions.
Some of the bedrooms remained available for patrons who preferred to spend the night.
The building was unused until 1992 and fell into disrepair. The building was then extensively renovated over 10 years and was re-opened as Marybrooke Manor & operated as boutique hotel and wedding venue.
It’s history is indicative of the extensive development of the Dandenongs as a holiday destination in the first half of the twentieth century & illustrates the level of comfort & facilities available to guests by 1940.
Purchased by Andrew and Deborah in June 2014, Marybrooke Manor now has a large dining room, 2 wedding ceremony spaces, 4 function rooms & 19 hotel rooms.
PJ’s restaurant was named after Andrew’s father Peter Judkins who passed away one week after Deborah & Andrew moved in.
PJ’s restaurant & bar is open from 9am to 4pm on Thursdays & Fridays for breakfast & lunch, and from 8am to 4pm on weekends. High tea is also available every Sunday from 1pm.