Enjoy The Great Australian Bake Off’s beautiful surrounds
Werribee Park’s lush 4ha grounds provides the setting for the Channel 9 quest to find Australia’s best home baker; in particular, the geometric formal garden called the parterre, French for “on the ground”, which plays home to the custom-designed marquee kitchen in which the 10 contestants sweat on sweets in a series of gruelling elimination challenges.The parterre, which contains about 20000, annuals and is changed twice a year, is overlooked by the Werribee Mansion, a enchanting Italianate manor completed by wealthy Scottish pastoralists, the Chirnsides, in the 1870s. The building’s former seminary is now occupied by the Mansion Hotel &Spa containing 91 rooms in two wings. it is all run by the Lancemore Group, which took over the property from Sofitel in March 2010. On an overnight stay, our junior suite in the newer wing built in 2000 was spacious with a comfy king bed, a deep Spa bath and a Nespresso coffee machine. The indulgent day Spa was just two flights of stairs away – a candlelit haven of relaxation where a range of massages, facials and body wraps await. A 60-minute relaxation massage costs $120. Hotel guests have free use of the adjoining 17m indoor pool, spa, steam rooms and small gym.
For Melburnians, staying here provides a short getaway within a 30-minute drive of the city as well as an accessible history lesson. Sign up for a tour of the mansion ($16.60 adults/$14.30 concession) and hopefully the affable Greg Leith will be your guide. (He was also The Great Australian Bake Off’s location manager drawing on his former life working at SBS TV.)Go from room to room to get a feel for how the Chirnsides worked and played. The house was quite technologically advanced for its time, with its gasoliers (gas-powered chandeliers) and dimmer switches for entertaining. Even the less-grand servants’ quarters are worth a look.During your stay, check out the park’s volunteer-tended Victoria State Rose Garden with its 5000 plantings or follow the sculpture garden around the grounds.
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