By Jeffry Farman, past Global President, International Association of Conference Centres.
In the heart of the Dandenong Ranges (well known for spectacular gardens) lies CountryPlace Retreat in a glorious mature garden setting. A haven for birdlife, native animals, bees and those fortunate to stay in the venue’s accommodation.
The original white settlers, the Jeeves family, came to the Dandenongs in 1855. They established a garden that surrounded their Shiloah Guesthouse. To remind them of their homeland they planted many exotic trees such as chestnut, cedar, spruce, cyprus, linden and silver birch. Today these towering trees are a wonderful connection with the historic past of the property originally settled nearly 170 years ago.
A number of owners since that time have put their own stamp on the gardens. In the 1960’s the Hirsch family ran a small venue called Panorama Guesthouse which became a popular weekend retreat. Ben Hirsch planted many rhododendrons, magnolias, Japanese maples and azaleas.
Plan for attracting birds
Then in 1992 the venue was acquired by the Farman family who wanted to attract more birdlife by planting hundreds of flowering native trees – waratahs, proteas, blackwoods and banksias. Today this plan has been a spectacular success with abundant flowering trees numerous species of native birds throughout the property.
Conference and leisure groups just love the gardens
The gardens provide a quiet place to contemplate the future and often just share a relaxing moment.