Dalvui & Heritage Garden,

431 McKinnons Bridge Rd, Noorat (just near Terang)


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Dalvui is a grand house with a wonderful garden to match.
  • One of the South West's most picturesque gardens
  • The garden was designed by William Guilfoyle whose work is all over the south west in many of our botanic gardens as well as several private ones.
  • Widely regarded as one of Australia's most significant gardens; lush velvety lawns beneath spectacular mature trees complement curved borders filled with a choice selection of shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Rockeries and ponds. More recent plantings add further interest.[1]

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This garden bears many of Guilfoyle's hallmarks -
  • paths disappear behind trees,
  • garden beds are bordered by hedges and other plants, and
  • there's a beautiful use of different colours and foliages.[2]
  • William Guilfoyle is often described as 'the master of landscaping'. It is his vision that shaped the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. By carefully planting trees and placing garden beds he developed the scenic panoramas and sweeping lawns that are characteristic of Melbourne Gardens today. [W. R. Guilfoyle, 1840-1912 : the master of landscaping / [by] R. T. M. Pescott]
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National Trust: Statement of Significance

A house of 1907 by Ussher & Kemp, closely comparable with their contemporary Dalswraith (now Campion Hall) in Kew, but for a strong diagonal emphasis focussed on a polygonal candle-snuffer roof, and a slightly lower standard of craftsmanship and integrity.
Notable features are
  • the panels of vertical tile hanging;
  • the Tudor bay window to the garden, of banked Gothic lights;
  • the stone corbels carrying the jettied upper facade;
  • and above all the picturesque aspect of the house in relation to Guilfoyle's garden and lake.

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Internally there is
  • a grand sweeping stair,
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  • many plaster ceilings of Jacobean character,
  • an inglenook with carved panels by Robert Prenzel,
  • a number of other details in the Art Nouveau, and
  • a splendid lift car with coloured glass roof light. Classified: 02/06/1983

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National Trust: Garden significance:

Dalvui, subdivided for Niel Walter Black from the Black family property Mt Noorat,
  1. the garden laid out to the design of William Guilfoyle from 1898,
  2. the residence erected in 1907-8 and
  3. the garden meticulously maintained by the Palmer family following the tragic death of Black in 1909, is of National significance:
  • as an outstanding late Victorian garden,
    Persimmon Trees at Dalvui, photo by Jeremy Lee, ABC
    Persimmon Trees at Dalvui, photo by Jeremy Lee, ABC

    the essential layout, features and planting of Guilfoyle's 1898 design remaining remarkably intact and carefully maintained; the plan, although allowing careful glimpses of the surrounding landscape, generally forms an inward looking garden, skilfully focussed on the house and lake and is a superb complement to the stylish Edwardian residence;
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  • as one of the finest examples of William Guilfoyle's private garden designs
    (probably matched only by Mooleric at Birregurra);

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    intact features include the sweeping lawns,
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    rockeries, paths and driveways,
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    lake, shrubberies, boundary screen planting, the original driveway avenues,
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    mature specimen trees, early outbuildings and windbreak plantings;
  • for its residence, erected to the design of accomplished Melbourne architects Ussher and Kemp;
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    notable features include a strong diagonal emphasis focussed on a polygonal candle-snuffer roof,
    panels of vertical tile hanging, the Tudor bay window to the garden,
    banked Gothic lights, stone corbels carrying the jettied upper facade,
    a grand sweeping stair, many plaster ceilings of Jacobean character,
    an inglenook with carved panels by Robert Prenzel, a number of other details in the Art Nouveau and a splendid lift car with coloured glass roof light;
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  • historically, for its links with the Black family, pioneering Scottish settlers in Victoria's Western District and the original owners of the properties Glenormiston and Mt Noorat;
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  • for the existence of important documentary evidence regarding the design of the garden, including plans, sketches, early photographs showing development and Guilfoyle's letter of instructions. Classified: 16/10/1991[3]

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Today, Dalvui is the home of Pam Habersberger, and together with her husband they've been opening the garden up as part of the Open Garden Scheme for many years. These open garden weekends provide a chance for those familiar with the garden to wander through it's many areas, and for those who have never visited before to be impressed by its size and scope.
  • It's also the perfect time to see the garden with many blossoms on show and everything looking suitably green and lush.
  • There are also vast expanses of lawn to enjoy a picnic or treat yourself to some of the sandwiches and other treats which will be on offer.
  • The garden is located at 431 McKinnons Bridge Rd, Noorat (just near Terang).[4]

Dalvui – a garden of inspiration

Alison Aplin November 7, 2012 - Garden Drum
My husband David and I decided to visit the Dalvui garden in Noorat recently, open as part of Open Gardens Australia.
  • What a wonderful treat it was for us both. Covering nearly 8 acres, the garden is nestled in the southern foothills of Mt Noorat.
  • In 1898 Wiliam Guilfoyle was commissioned to advise on the layout and planning of the garden.
Variation in foliage colours adds to interest
Variation in foliage colours adds to interest


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Superb layout and plant selection in considerable summer shade
Rhododendron in background with water canal
Since then, Dalvui has changed hands numerous times over the years, but it appears that there has been a deep respect for the backbone of the garden as there are still many of the original trees in existence.

  • There have been some changes, as in the new driveway which is now better placed for convenience which has led to new plantings in the area.
  • But these plantings are all totally in keeping with the history of the place; one could assume that they were part of the original plan.

The original garden encompassed 5 acres; more recently 2.5 acres have been added.

  • The surrounding acreage is now a cattle property having previously been used as both dairy and a sheep stud, with the size of the land being reduced over the years.
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Part of Herbacious border
Part of Herbacious border

Part of parterre hedge
Part of herbacious border
Natives and exotics have been mixed, the native plants being mostly in the form of large eucalypts. There was what I thought may be a magnificent Angophora floribunda towering over the entrance to the garden. And then one walked through a birch-lined driveway with glimpses visible on either side of what lay beyond these avenue trees.
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Formal hedged garden
Magnificent mature trees
Many different rooms feature such an assortment of lush plants that one could only drool with envy at the heart of such a great garden – the soil.

  • Mt Noorat is a now extinct volcano so the soil at the base is as rich as you can get. And it is so visible in the health and vigour of the plants.
  • Of course, even with such a wonderful base to work with, good plant selection is also critical, and this has been so professionally managed.
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Hedging and plants in dappled shade of deciduous trees
Echium and Phormium cookianum
There are many different areas to enjoy.

  • A series of ponds cascade into each other,
  • herbacious borders with a path through the centre,
  • formal hedging with a pavillion and shaded garden beds all with soft colouring – there are no harsh colours to be seen anywhere.

As a lover of colour, I found this garden a very restful and contemplative place with its subdued colour palette.
Dalvui is a credit to all concerned. It is obviously a labour of love and deserving of the accolades given to it. I will let the photos speak for the beauty of the garden.

Dalvui will open again ...
Alison Aplin
Alison Aplin

About Alison Aplin

Former owner and designer of Australia's only ecotourism and multi award winning garden Timandra [now Mintaro Garden Rooms], in the Clare Valley SA. She has a Diploma of Horticulture and is an Arborist with a deep respect for trees. Alison is a passionate advocate for the environment and nature in general. She is the managing partner and designer for Timandra Design & Landscaping, constantly learning her craft through her own gardens, now Timandra by the Sea. Further info about this business can be seen at www.timandra.com.au

  1. ^ http://www.aroundyou.com.au/whats-on/events/dalvui-open-day
  2. ^
  3. ^ http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/search/nattrust_result_detail/69386
  4. ^ Dalvui - a grand Guilfoyle garden opening up this weekend ...
        • www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2012/10/24/3617727.htm