THE FIRST SURVEY OF THE AREA
The land on which 32 Strabane Ave was built on was part of Elgar’s Special Survey of 1841. Henry Elgar arrived in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales from Manila in 1840 and after a brief stay sailed to Sydney. In 1841 he was part of a consortium who bought a Special Survey in Boroondara and Nunawading Districts. On the title deed it states that it is ‘to be called the Boroondara Estate’ but it has always been known as ‘Elgar’s Special Survey’.
Mont Albert North is located in the south eastern part of Elgar’s Special Survey. In 1884 the land between Seymour Rd south (Strabane Ave), Elgar Rd east, Harp Rd north (Belmore Rd), Boundary Rd west (Boondara Rd) was subdivided and offered for sale as part of the Box Hill Park Estate.
Although Seymour Rd appears on land sales flyers in 1884 it was a dirt road until it was sealed between 1956 and in 1963, the name of Seymour Rd was changed to Strabane Ave around 1964. There had been some development in the area in the late 19th century but this was stymied due to the 1890’s economic Depression. As a result the majority of the area remained pasture, orchards and dairy farms late into the nineteenth century – housing development did not intensify until after World War 2
THE DESTRUCTION OF 'ALLAMBIE'
The house and garden at 32 Strabane Ave was a significant historic feature within the Mont Albert North/Whitehorse area, both for its representative period garden design with significant plants/trees and a quite unique historic building of Edwardian/Bungalow style architecture and Arts and Crafts interior design. A heritage assessment of the house was not carried out and it was not covered by a Council Heritage Overlay or registered with Heritage Victoria or the National Trust or on the Register of the National Estate , it should have been registered with all of these organisations to better protect it -the house was demolished in February 2021. The gardens and trees are not covered by a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) or any other protections and are currently under the threat of being ‘moonscaped’.
There are no other gardens and buildings dating from 1915 of this heritage, size, cultural significance and style in the Mont Albert North area. They should be valued for these reasons but also because they are a rare example of the lifestyle, culture and historical environment which the people who developed our area lived.
Amongst the legacy of the Lormer, Turnbull and Ashmole families is the contribution they have made to the culture, business and heritage of not only Mont Albert North, Whitehorse, Melbourne but also to Australia generally. The Ashmole family who contributed to horticultural diversity, architecture and the gifting of land to be used as a park for the enjoyment of current and future generations as well as their local social activities. Andrew Turnbull whose two brothers invented and patented a number of new inventions with the US Patent and Trademark Office which they developed from their business in Surrey Hills – legacies which should be all recognised and celebrated.
THE LORMER FAMILY
In the 1884 Title records show that Robert Lormer Jnr bought 12 lots which he owned until 1900, with lots 28 to 30 eventually making up 32 Strabane Ave. Robert Lormer Jnr did not live on the land he bought in Box Hill (Mont Albert North) as he lived at ‘Ellimatta’ in Mason St, Hawthorn. The firm handling the sale was R B Morton a local real estate agent, Accountant and Auditor who had offices in Box Hill and Melbourne. At this time Mont Albert North was known as Box Hill.
Robert Lormer Jnr was born in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia in 1843. He sailed from Nova Scotia, Canada as a ten year old with his father Robert Snr and Ann Lormer (nee Quinn) and siblings William and Mary on board the 91 tonne schooner Vivid arriving in Melbourne in 1853. Robert Jnr was a Melbourne and Hawthorn resident in the late 19th century; a significant Box Hill landowner and Secretary of the Victorian Permanent Property Investment and Building Society.
In an interesting aside Robert Lormer Jnr’s father Robert Lormer Snr was born in 1818 in India and somehow as a youth went to County Down in Ireland where he was trained as a Shoemaker. He then went to New Brunswick and married Ann Quinn in 1838 when he was 20 years old. The globetrotting Robert Snr seems to have liked travelling as they left Canada for Australia with their young family from Saint John in New Brunswick in 1853 on a 91 tonne schooner Vivid.
Directory records show that Robert Snr operated a bakery at 92 Spencer St, Melbourne from c.1860 to c.1870; Robert Jnr was a partner and worked in the bakery. Directory records also show that Robert Snr’s other son William Lormer operated Lormer and Co Bakers and Confectioners on Gardiners Creek Rd (Toorak Rd) Prahran from c.1865 to c.1875.
In 1885 Robert Jnr married Mary Gourlay; her parents were John and Margaret Gourlay (nee Syme). John Gourlay worked as a paymaster at The Age newspaper and his wife Margaret Gourlay (nee Syme) was the sister of David Syme who co founded the ‘The Age’ newspaper Syme family dynasty.
Robert Jnr and Mary Lormer had three children Arthur, Robert Jnr and George; they sent their sons to New College (Kingswood College) in Box Hill from c1901 to c1905. New College opened on Station St, Box Hill in 1890 as a boy’s school for day students and boarders.
Arthur Lormer was Dux of the school in 1903 and one of three students who passed the Matriculation Examination of the Melbourne University in 1904.
Robert Lormer Jnr died in 1911 in Hawthorn and Mary Lormer also died in Hawthorn in 1943.
In an interesting aside Robert Lormer’s brother, William Lormer was a Justice of the Peace and was instrumental in bringing about the ‘Lormer Enquiry’, the inquiry conducted investigations into corrupt Justices of the Peace in Victoria.
The Lormer family was obviously well connected and deeply involved in the wider Melbourne community, in government, legal and as successful business areas as well as significant land owners. The Commercial Bank Australia owned the land between 1900 and 1922.
THE TURNBULL FAMILY
Andrew Turnbull Jnr was born in Sandridge (Port Melbourne) in 1884. His father John Turnbull Snr was born in Scotland in 1852 and his mother Emily Turnbull (nee Williams) was born in Scotland in 1851. Andrew had eight siblings Margaret, Florence, Walter, John, Henry, Arthur, Louise and Mary. Andrew’s family used to live in Chestnut St, Surrey Hills, after his father John Turnbull’s death in 1902 his mother Emily moved to Newton St, Surrey Hills.
In 1913 Andrew Turnbull married Alice Kenny in Surrey Hills and they lived at 32 Strabane Ave, (and it would appear they may have built the house on this land even though the bank owned the land), at this time this part of Mont Albert North was known as Surrey Hills. Alice Kenny was born in Box Hill in 1891; her parents were Richard and Anne Kenny (nee Palmer).
Andrew and Alice Turnbull had two sons Richard who was born in Surrey Hills in 1914 and Robert who was born in 1916 in Balwyn. Andrew’s occupation is listed as Plumber/Engineer. Directory records show that the Turnbull family lived in Seymour Rd (32 Strabane Ave) from approximately 1914 to 1922.
In an interesting aside Andrew Turnbull’s brothers Henry and Arthur Turnbull operated a car engineering business named H and A Turnbull Motor Engineers in Stirling Rd, Surrey Hills. Henry is listed in the directory as living in Stirling Crescent, Surrey Hills and Arthur is listed as living at his mother’s home in Newton Rd, Surrey Hills. Henry and Arthur Turnbull are listed in the 1940 directory as operating a boiler maker business in Stirling Crescent, Surrey Hills next door to the car mechanics business they operated.
Arthur and Henry Turnbull in collaboration with Alfred Goding and George Davis invented and patented a number of inventions with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Alfred Goding’s occupation was listed as Farmer and he lived on Pembroke St in Surrey Hills. George Davis owned the ‘Eclipse Laundry’ on Camberwell Rd in Camberwell.
Their inventions included a steam generator for motor cars (1908), a steam generator (1911), improvements in steam generators (1912), water tube boiler (1915) and a safety relief valve for steam boilers and air compressors (1940).
THE ASHMOLE FAMILY
William V Ashmole's maternal grandfather William Ashmole was convicted of Larceny in England and transported to Tasmania in 1845. The punishment for Larceny at that time was seven years imprisonment. In 1854 he married Maria Mott in Launceston and his occupation was listed as a Free Farmer. They had a number of children including William Jnr’s mother Rhoda who was born in Westbury, Tasmania in 1858 and another daughter Sarah whose birth records show that the family moved to Darlington, Victoria in 1860. Darlington is a town located 220 kms west of Melbourne.
William Victor Ashmole was born in 1888 in Fitzroy with records showing that he was the son of Rhoda Jane Ashmole and his father is listed as unknown. William had two older half brothers, Albert Ashmole who was born in Carlton in 1880 and another half brother Herbert Shea who was born in 1884 in Tasmania. Herbert Shea’s father was James Shea, his occupation was listed as Coachman, and he died in 1887 aged 23.
William Ashmole Jnr married Betsy Ann Allan in 1915 in Melbourne; they did not have any children. Betsy was born in Beaconsfield, Tasmania in 1888; her parents were Thomas and Betsey Allan (nee Lane).
William started working at Mcilwraith Industries from approximately 1912 as a Clerk. In the 1922 and 1949 Victorian Government Gazette he was listed as the Company Auditor. He had been appointed to the position of Chairman of the company a number of years prior to his death in 1953.
The history of Mcilwraith’s industries is interesting as it was a very large well known Australian corporation and William Ashmole was deeply involved with its owners, their friends, and the business throughout his life.
John McIlwraith Industries was started by John McIlwraith soon after he arrived in Melbourne in 1853. John formed a partnership with brothers Alexander and Francis Graham, painters and glaziers by trade; the partnership of Graham, McIlwraith and Graham was dissolved in March 1854. For a few months in 1854 he was trading as McIlwraith and Davidson, before setting up on his own business in June 1854 at 112 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
John McIlwraith married Mary Whannell in March 1854, and lived in Collingwood, from where he briefly carried on business, in a prefabricated iron house he had shipped out from Ayr, Scotland. In November 1854, he moved his business premises to 147 Russell Street, where by 1857 he was advertising as “plumber and gas fitter” and “importers of all kinds of plumbers’ materials”.
In 1859, John purchased land in Little Collins Street and erected a building at 167-169 Little Collins St (48-56 little Collins St) and moved into the new building in November 1861, the company occupied this site for the next hundred years.
John McIlwraith was elected to Melbourne City Council as Councillor for Albert Ward in 1870, becoming Mayor in 1873-74. He became a magistrate in 1874 and was a Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioner in 1877-82. In 1876, he was Victorian commissioner at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876 in the US. It was also known as the Centennial International Exhibition and was the first official World's Fair to be held in the United States to showcase thousands of different products from around the world. There were over 250 pavilions spread over 285 acres and was visited by close to 10 million people.
In 1887 John formed a partnership with his brothers Andrew and Thomas in the Australian office of the shipping firm McIlwraith McEachern. The company started as a shipping line founded by sea captains Andrew McIlwraith and Malcolm McEachern in 1875 in London and was known as McIlwraith, McEachern & Co (MMC). In 1876 MMC began operating ships to take British migrants to the Australia under contract to the Queensland Government. In 1891, it relocated its headquarters to Melbourne.
In 1890, McIlwraith formed a partnership with the Crane family of Sydney (G.E. Crane & Sons Ltd), which in 1893 saw the establishment of what later became called the Sydney Lead Works Ltd at Glebe. In December 1937, Sydney Lead Works Ltd was absorbed into McIlwraith Industries Pty Ltd.
In 1893 John McIlwraith became a co-founder with Harold Crofton Sleigh (H.C. Sleigh & Co.) of a company formed to supply the Australian market with motor spirit under the ‘Golden Fleece’ brand (much later acquired by Caltex). The first delivery however did not occur until 1913.
John McIlwraith died in September 1902, while on a visit to Ayr, Scotland and was succeeded by his son Jack (John), his other sons, Thomas and David, also being involved in the family business. On 20 August 1910, the family company became John McIlwraith and Company Proprietary Limited, with all shareholdings restricted to family members only.
By 1939, the company owned semi-retail stores in several Melbourne suburbs, but the first interstate office (after William Ashmole had been Chairman) did not open until the early 1950's, an era of rapid expansion for the company, when distribution outlets were acquired through take-overs and, in Victoria, through opening direct outlets. Some 21 companies would be acquired. Between 1968 and 1971; the company had a half interest in copper mines at Kitticoola (SA).
In a notice in the 1953 edition of Dun’s gazette for New South Wales states’ J. McIlwraith Smith has been appointed Chairman of the company in place of the late William V Ashmole’. John McIlwraith Smith was the grandson of the founder John McIlwraith.
William Ashmole was also an Executor of John Jnr and David Mcilwraith’s estates after their deaths. John Jnr and David McIlwraith with their brother Thomas were the owners of McIlwraith Industries. William must have been a very trusted and close friend of the McIlwraith family to have held such important positions in the company as well as dealing with highly personal and private family matters.
In March, 1972, John McIlwraith Industries Ltd acquired controlling interest in General Industries Ltd and in doing so removed a difficult competitor and achieved dominance of enamel bath manufacture in Australia.
In 1974, Blue Metal Industries Ltd launched an unsuccessful take-over bid for John McIlwraith Industries Ltd and in 1977 sold their remaining shareholding to Oliver Davey Glass Ltd. By July 1978, a merger of the two companies was completed; the new company was called McIlwraith- Davey Industries and on 26 July 1979, John McIlwraith Industries Ltd was de-listed by the ASX.
Back to William and Betsy Ashmole
Title records of 1922 show that William Ashmole aged 24 as the proprietor of 32 Strabane Ave. At the time William bought the property that would eventually become 32 Strabane Ave the estate was approximately 3.67 acres. The boundaries of the estate ran from north from Strabane Ave to Allison Rd, east to the eastern side of number 1 Kefford Crt, south to number 16 Strabane Ave and then ran west back to 32 Strabane Ave. A swimming pool used to be located where 9 Kefford Crt is and a tennis court was located where the road into Kefford Crt is.
Title records show that in 1957 Betsy Ashmole donated number 33 Strabane Ave ( Lot 1) to ‘the Mayor, Councillors and Citizens of Box Hill’ after her husband Williams death in 1953. The site was cleared by the Box Hill Jaycees Club who installed swings and slides for local children to use, and the site has been used as a park ever since. It is named ‘Ashmole Reserve’ in recognition of the donation and the long connection the family had with Mont Albert North. According to the Title records in 1956 Betsy sold Lot 2 where the heritage listed St Joseph’s Chapel (27-29 Strabane Ave) is currently located and in 1959 she sold Lots 3 to 9 where the Vincenpaul Hostel (13-25 Strabane Ave) is now located.
William Ashmole died in 1953 and Betsy Ashmole in 1986 both in Box Hill. Betsy obviously missed William very much as she placed a tribute to him in The Age newspaper in 1972 - 19 years after his death. ASHMOLE – In loving memory of my dear husband, departed this life September 19, 1953. To memory ever dear – Ann. Williams mother Rhoda Ashmole lived with William and Betsy before she died in 1937. Betsy, William and Rhoda are all buried at the Lilydale Lawn Cemetery.
The property was sold to a developer in June 2020. The Ashmole/ Allan family owned and occupied the property for 98 years.
THE HOUSE AND GARDEN
Before number 32 Strabane Ave was subdivided between the late fifties early sixties the estate was approximately 3.67 acres in size. The boundaries of the estate ran from north from Strabane Ave to Allison Rd, east to the eastern side of number 1 Kefford Crt, south to number 16 Strabane Ave and then ran west back to 32 Strabane Ave. A swimming pool used to be located where number 9 Kefford Crt is currently located, and a tennis court was located where the road in Kefford Crt is now located.
The two storey house that used to be at 32 Strabane Ave, Mont Albert North was built in the Bungalow style and included design elements of Arts and Crafts, it was built in red brick and consisted of 10 rooms. Directory records show that there was no one living on the site from 1900 to 1914, this may indicate that there was no house on the site during this time. After I consulted the world renowned Australian Professor of Architecture Miles Lewis his assessment was that the house was built around 1915.
The roof of the house was made up of roof tiles stamped ‘Blackburn’, these roof tiles were manufactured by a George Blackburn in Mitcham. There are no surviving examples of the Blackburn tiles and little is known about the company or George Blackburn himself.
The bricks that were used in the construction of the house were stamped ‘Standard’. These bricks were manufactured in Box Hill by the Standard Brick & Tile Co. Ltd on the corner of Canterbury and Elgar Rd’s. The Standard Brick & Tile Co. Ltd started as the Haughton Park Brick Company Ltd in 1880.
In the north western corner of the property there is a small hut next to a single car garage. The hut is constructed from timber with a tin roof and has a forty foot wooden mast attached to it and may have been built in the 1920’s or 1930’s. William Ashmole may have been an amateur radio operator and listened to radio broadcasts that were being transmitted from interstate and around the world. Radio stations that were transmitting worldwide during the 1920’s and 1930’s included the BBC from England, the Voice of America as well as from many other countries.
To view aerial photos of 32 Strabane Ave from 1945 to 2021 please click on the following link and enter the street address into the search box: Whitehorse Maps
THE GARDENS OF ALLAMBIE - A BOTANICAL OASIS IN MONT ALBERT NORTH
The legacy of the botanical interest displayed by the Ashmole family over 98 years can be seen at 32 Strabane Ave. It is a veritable botanical garden in miniature with mature exotic trees and shrubs from Australia and around the world and has been a part of the local environment for over 100 years. Since being sold in June 2020 the gardens have become overgrown but with a little attention the overall structure is still present and can be fully restored. The garden is planted with numerous varieties of trees, shrubs and bushes already identified but with further investigation would probably find other plants of significant heritage or horticultural value.
The destruction of the garden
The more than 100 year old garden will not survive this proposed high density development. The overcrowded site coverage, which is inevitable with the addition of 11 dwellings and their limited setbacks, would be destructive of the traditional tree and shrub canopy of Mont Albert North.
In looking at this proposed development various concerns can be raised:
All of these concerns would make the preservation of this unique heritage garden problematic.
The result of this proposed development is that plantings would likely be on a generally small scale –grasses, flaxes - low growing style trees and shrubbery – not large or canopy trees. Thus few if any of the existing mature trees would be maintained.
The absence of trees or plantings is even more marked at the eastern and northern side of this proposed high density development. Canopy trees have long been a feature of this garden and in the surrounding areas of Strabane Ave and Tyrrell St. It shows the contribution of canopy trees to the landscape in the area. Trees tend to be taken for granted in the suburban landscape. It is only with an aerial view of the property that an appreciation of their significance becomes evident.
“In the presence of old trees, I am reminded there is still grace and beauty in the world.
These thoughts lead me past grief into hopefulness. By honoring the trees that remain, we celebrate the joy and splendor of our natural world.” - Beth Moon - wildlife photographer and author
This vegetative cover will not be replicated in this high density development. Depending on the interpretation of the regulations, it is highly unlikely that a canopy tree would be planted in the small available spaces anywhere on this proposal or that, if trees are present, they may not escape the developer’s chainsaw or the construction stage. High density developments where the original single house is demolished and many dwellings are built on the site do not allow for open green spaces.
When people talk about Mont Albert North as great place to live, there is no doubt that most residents have trees, gardens and greenery in mind. In reality, this ‘liveability’ is under threat from this proposed high density development.
The significant plants on this site are listed below with brief descriptions.
1. Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta)
This tree is an Australian native and has dark grey bark, dark green lobed foliage and stunning golden-orange flowers. This is a wonderful and elegant example of how large and impressive the silky oak can grow over many years.
2. Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius)
You may have heard the song Flame Trees by Cold Chisel a number of times, but do you know what it’s really about? Well, it’s an ode to the Illawarra flame tree.
This is a spectacular tree and an iconic Australian native. The leaves are shed before flowering in late spring, and the bell shaped flower can cover the whole tree and it looks as though it is on fire.
3. Bhutan Cypress (Cupressus Torulosa)
The Bhutan Cypress is a tall and densely foliaged conifer that is conical in shape, being slender at the tip and broad at the base. The dark green foliage is thick and has a drooping effect. This is an impressive and towering tree which has taken many years to grow to this size and stature.
4. Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus Deodara)
The Himalayan Cedar is a hardy, evergreen tree of pyramidal shape with soft grey-green foliage which can become slightly pendulous in spring when weighed down by soft new growth.
This is a stunning and tall majestic tree which has taken many years to grow to this size and presence.
5. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix Canariensis)
The Canary Island Date Palm is a massive palm tree that has a sturdy, ridged trunk and spectacular, dense dome of stiffly spined, feathery, arching foliage. These are wonderful, towering feature trees which are spread around the garden mainly amongst the lawns so that their dominating presence can be fully appreciated.
6. Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria Heterophylla)
The Norfolk Island pine on the site is approximately 11 meters tall and at least 40 years old. Norfolk Island pines are slow growing and can grow to a height of between 50 to 65 meters with a distinctive pyramidal shape and are known to live 150 years or more. It is commonly known as the Norfolk Island pine, as it is found on Norfolk Island of the coast of Australia. This species has a restricted range occurring on just one other Pacific island - Phillip Island (1600 km east of Brisbane) and consequently it is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, founded in 1964, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, the IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species.
There may be other trees and plants of horticultural significance on the site. It is therefore important that an independent arborist or one from the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne conducts an assessment of the site. Whitehorse Council, the owners, and the state government must act to preserve this horticultural and historically important site.
7. Pin Oak (Quercus Palustris) – Council tree
This tree has been identified as tree number 42 in the arborist's report; it is to be removed to accommodate the new crossover. This is an attractive, majestic, deciduous tree with ascending upper branches and horizontal/drooping lower branches. The shiny, dark green leaves have deeply cut, pointed lobes. They turn a deep red to bronze in late autumn, or a brilliant scarlet in colder areas and often persist over winter.
8. Kowhai (Sophora Tetraptera)
The Kowhai is a New Zealand native and is only found in a small area on the northern island. It has a slender and graceful habit and has fine grey foliage which is covered with masses of yellow flowers in spring. Flowering begins around 2-3 years of age and are bird and bee attracting. It typically grows to 10 meters tall and 3 meters wide and can be easily contained with trimming. The Kowhai cannot be purchased in Australia as it has not been grown commercially for many years. This is an elegant tree with a draping habit that adds colour and diversity to the tree canopy of the area.
9. Lilac Tree (Syringa Vulgaris) – I could not find this plant in the arborist's report.
The Lilac Tree is famed for its fragrant flowers; they bloom from spring to early summer, and are ideal plants for cool-climate gardens. As well as their unforgettable fragrance, Lilacs also yield dyes: green from the flowers, green and brown from the leaves, and orange-yellow from the stems.
Lilac foliage ranges from simple pointed elliptical to heart-shaped leaves, which are arranged in opposite pairs, and some species provide vibrant autumn foliage colour. The flowers may be single or double and range in colour from white and soft yellow, through pink and mauve to purple.
10. Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum Undulatum)
Pittosporum Undulatum is a tree to 12 meters in its natural habitat but usually smaller in cultivation. It provides dense shade and spreads up to 7 meters across. It has coarse grey bark and glossy green elliptical leaves some 6-15 cm long and 1.5-4 cm wide with distinctive wavy or undulating margins. The leaves are about 75 mm long with toothed margins. Small, white, fragrant flowers occur in terminal clusters in spring and early summer and are followed by orange-tan berries 1 cm in diameter in autumn, which persist for several months.
It is a hardy and adaptable plant which appreciates most acidic soils and extra moisture yet can also withstand extended dry periods once established. It can be clipped into hedges and is quick growing, as well as having pleasantly perfumed flowers which can pervade a large area (hence the common name 'native Daphne'). There are a number of these beautiful, lush trees in the garden that have been a food source for local birds, possums and bats for many years.
11. Tarata (Pittosporum Eugenioides)
The Tarata is a species of New Zealand native evergreen tree. Growing to 12 m tall by 5 m wide, it is conical when young but more rounded in shape when mature. Its leaves are mottled yellow-green with curly edges and a bright midrib, and have a strong lemony smell when crushed. It has highly fragrant clusters of attractive yellow-cream flowers in spring, followed by distinctive black seed capsules. This is a handsome tree with dense green foliage and bee, bird and possum attracting flowers.
12. Lily Pilly (Syzygium Smithii)
The bark of Syzygium Smithii is brown and scaled and flakes off easily. It is planted as a shrub or hedgerows, and can grow about 3–5 m (9.8–16.4 ft) tall in the garden.
Its dark green shiny leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems, and are oval in shape and measure 2–10 by 1–3 cm (1–4 by 0.5–1 in). The cream-white flowers appear from October to March, occurring in panicles at the end of small branches. Berries follow on, appearing from May to August, and are oval or globular with a shallow depression at the top. They measure 0.8 to 2 cm in diameter, and range from white to maroon in colour. This elegant and dense tree is planted on the edge of lawn so its beautiful new bronze foliage and bee attracting flowers can be fully appreciated.
13. Italian Cypress or Pencil Pine (Cupressus Sempervirens)
A stunning conifer with blue-green foliage growing in a very tight, erect column and is one of the best forms of Italian Pencil Pine. It has dense, aromatic, blue-green foliage and a slender, needle-like silhouette. This wonderful, towering feature tree is planted on the border of the garden; its presence has been appreciated by local residents and passersby for many years.
14. Queensland Box (Lophostemon Confertus)
The Queensland brush box tree is an evergreen, fast growing rain forest tree with an attractive rounded shape. It has white fluffy flowers in spring and summer, and leathery dark green leaves.
Prized as a street tree, it is a hardy tree that is rarely troubled by pests or diseases. It is tolerates drought, heavy pruning and poor drainage. It does best in a moist fertile, well drained soil, but will tolerate poorer soils. Moderately frost tolerant once established. It can grow to around 20 meters tall in its natural range, but in cultivation will be smaller to around 10 meters tall.
This wonderful, towering feature tree is found on the eastern side of the garden where its lush green leaves and showy flowers have been appreciated by local residents and bees for many years.
15. Norfolk Island Hibiscus (Laguneria Patersonius)
Norfolk Island hibiscus is a medium to large tree which can reach about 12-20 metres in height. It has dense, greyish-green leaves which are oval shaped to about 100 mm long and covered in soft hairs when young. The pink flowers are of typical hibiscus shape and appear in the leaf axils in spring and early summer. They are generally a pink to mauve but deeper coloured forms are in cultivation. The flowers are followed by brown capsules containing a number of black seeds.
Like its neighbour the Queensland Box this wonderful, towering feature tree is also found on the eastern side of the garden where its lush green leaves and showy flowers have been appreciated by local residents and bees for many years.
16. Kauri Pine (Agathis Robusta)
The Kauri Pine is a native Queensland pine with glossy wide leaves unlike typical conifers, and giant green cones as big as oranges. This tree dates back to the Jurassic age when dinosaurs might have browsed on the leaves. This beautiful pine can reach up to 50 metres in its natural habitat and has a slender upright habit. This majestic towering giant is found on the western side of the garden where its stunning trunk has been appreciated by local residents for many years.
SHRUBS AND BUSHES
Nandina, sometimes called Sacred Bamboo or Heavenly Bamboo, is a beautiful shrub native to Japan. It is not at all similar to bamboo - in fact the very compact ones can look more like Japanese maple trees. Nandina's suit informal flowery cottage gardens, woodland areas and formal green topiary hedges.
Plants have beautiful leaf colour, from gold through peach to plum and pink. They colour up even in the shade, and in winter when little else is flowering. Their colour will be brighter in full sun, and the light will shine through the leaves, which gives them a luminous effect. They add year-round foliage colour and interest to all areas of the garden. Unclipped, they will produce white flowers and red berries loved by birds.
Many species in this genus have flowers that are lead coloured, and plumbum, in Latin, means lead. It is an extraordinarily adaptable plant; it can be grown as a hedge or as a loose shrub or espaliered against a wall.
Plumbago grows in poor soil, or on an exposed sunny bank, it is drought tolerant, enjoys a sunny location, and is not particular about soils. It is low maintenance and doesn't need clipping but can be pruned after flowering. It flowers heavily, usually from the end of November, through summer, with peak flowering in February and March. The flowers vary in colour, from baby blue, to white at one extreme and much darker blue at the other.
19. Wormwood (Artemisia)
Wormwood is an aromatic, herbaceous perennial growing from 80 cm to 1.2 meters. Rarely, the tall branching stems will reach 1.5 meters. The name Artemisia is from Ancient Greek used in Hellenistic cultures, where the Goddess Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, protector of the forest and children.
The stems are quite strong and are also white-silver toned, due to the coverage of many small hairs. The leaves are up to 8 cm by 3 cm, divided into segments and arranged in a spiral around the grooved stem. The deeply serrated leaves are greyish green above and white on the underside, with both sides covered in fine silky Trichomes or oil producing hairs. The overall appearance is a generally grey or silvery toned plant. The flowers are small, globular and a yellow-green colour, are held in an erect leafy panicle and bloom in summer.
Medicinal use of wormwood dates back to Ancient Egypt and wormwood flavoured wine was dated to Ancient Greece. Egyptian papyrus scrolls show that as early as 1552, wormwood was used as a tonic and for various ailments, such as rheumatism. Modern use of wormwood dates to the 18th century when a specific recipe was patented and sold as a medicinal elixir. The chemical constituents of Wormwood include Thujone; Azeulenes are anti-inflammatory, and Sesquiterpene lactones. It is also known to be a good insecticide and insect repellent due to the presence of both Thujone and Sesquiterpene lactones.
20. Lemon scented Tea Tree (Leptospernum Patersonii)
A graceful weeping and evergreen compact form of the lemon scented tea tree. It has a spectacular display of snow-white flowers in spring and the foliage has a delightful fresh lemon scent when crushed. It is a tough plant that will grow in a wide range of soil types and climates as either a feature or screen plant.
21. Muehlenbeckia Complexa – I could not find this plant in the arborist's report
Muehlenbeckia Complexa forms a dense thick mass of interlaced branches. The stems are slender and creep or twine over other plants or rocks, without support it will climb upon itself forming thick and dense prostrate masses.
The flowers are delightfully scented and are supported on spikes approximately 2 cm long that emerge from the leaf axils and the tips of branchlets. The flowers are small, dioecious and contain 8 stamens. As the flowers age, they enlarge into succulent fruits that are semi transparent with a shiny, black, triangular shaped seeds located in the centre of the fruits. It is semi deciduous, losing most or all of its leaves over winter.
22. Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Glaucophylla)
The Large-leaved Cotoneaster Glaucophylla is a semi-evergreen, upright or arching shrub or small tree growing from 1-5 m in height. The white flowers are about 5 mm in diameter, and form clusters of 20-60 flowers along the branches. The flowers are 5-petalled, with stalks (pedicels) 2-4 mm long. The mature fruits are shining red rounded 'berries' (pomes), 7-8 mm in diameter.
THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT
In June 2020, 32 Strabane Ave, Mont Albert North was bought by a developer. In October 2020 Ricardo Energy Environment and Planning (authors of the Planning Report) held a pre-application meeting with the planning department of the Whitehorse Council to discuss the proposal.
On January 4, 2021, a planning application (WH/2021/5) had been lodged by the developer with Whitehorse Council. I visited the site to read the ‘Application for a Planning Permit’ (yellow notice) but I could not find one. The yellow notice is usually placed in a position/s around a property where it can be read by local residents when a planning permit is being applied for by a developer. I also looked for the application on the Whitehorse Online Services website and found it under ‘Planning Register’ not the usual ‘Planning Register – at Advertising’. The application stated ‘Buildings and works associated with the development of 11 townhouses in the General Residential Zone and to construct a front fence and remove trees within the Significant Landscape Overlay Schedule 9’. There is no mention of the house being demolished?
On January 14, 2021, a Private Building Surveyor lodged a separate application (46/2021) to demolish the 1915 built house. I found this application in the ‘Building Permits Register’ section not the usual ‘Planning Register – at Advertising’ of the Whitehorse Online Services website.
On February 5, 2021, Whitehorse Council approved the demolition of the 1915 built house.
Around February 20,2021 the ‘Planning Register – at Advertising’ (yellow notice) was eventually placed around the site. The application stated ‘Buildings and works associated with the development of 11 townhouses in the General Residential Zone and to construct a front fence and remove trees within the Significant Landscape Overlay Schedule 9’. Again, there is no mention of the house being demolished. By February 25 the house was demolished.
The Council received a number of objections from local residents to the proposed development and in March 2021 ‘determined that a notice to Refuse to Grant a Permit be issued’.
In May 2021 the developer took the Council to VCAT, in October 2021 VCAT approved the planning application (WH/2021/5).
To read/download VCAT’s decision in regards to planning application WH/2021/5, please click on the following link:
Developers can build anywhere but our built heritage cannot be replaced, the buildings that maybe constructed on this site maybe demolished in twenty years. The historical 100 year old plus house that was demolished and maybe replaced by these short lived buildings was irreplaceable and is now lost forever. The residents and the heritage of Whitehorse deserve to have more certainty than developers when our built heritage is under threat of being demolished or irrevocably changed.
UPDATE: As of June 2023 construction on the site has not commenced.
THE FUTURE FOR THE CITY OF WHITEHORSE
Australians travel to Europe, Asia and other places to look at and enjoy history and gardens that are protected by their people and governments. France (amongst many other countries) for example has implemented heritage protections gradually since the 19th century as an expression of national identity and recognises the powerful contribution heritage makes to social stability and sustainable economic development. These heritage protections cover fully intact buildings, gardens and ruins and are regulated and enforced. Singapore protects its culturally significant buildings and areas as a balance to its high rise developments, to maintain their history and culture as well as using them as a tourist attraction.
We have built and horticultural history that is intact right in our backyard and sadly it is either being destroyed or changed irrevocably?
The house with heritage value for Whitehorse was not covered by a Council Heritage Overlay (HO) and a heritage assessment of it was not undertaken. The house was just demolished in February 2021 with no regard for its history or the contributions made by the families to our heritage.
The more than three quarters of an acre (3243 m2) of gardens with heritage and horticultural value for Whitehorse are not covered by a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) and an assessment of them was not undertaken. The garden will now be ‘moonscaped’ following a decision by VCAT in October 2021 to approve the planning application - there will be nothing left on this site to show for 137 years of history except two palm trees.
The destruction of this site is not only a loss for Mont Albert North and Whitehorse but for Australia.
The demolition or irrevocable changes made to our built heritage raises a number of important questions about how we and our governments value, define and protect it. In Victoria the state government is responsible for developing and implementing heritage legislation/protections.
When will the Victorian government implement heritage legislation that better protects our built heritage?
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In September 2023 a developer lodged an application (WH/2023/768) to demolish and build three dwellings at 25 Thames St, Box Hill North.
This house was lived in and may have been built by William H Elsum, a well-known Melbourne poet, historian, editor, newspaper founder and printer.
Please email the Councillors of the Whitehorse Heritage Steerage Committee requesting that an assessment be undertaken of this house by a heritage consultant to ascertain its local &/or state heritage significance.