Burnham Beeches reborn

Author: Michael Harden
Photography: Julian Kingma

Historic Dandenong Ranges mansion is part of chef's grand vision.

A private home with its own cinema and lift, a children's hospital, a science research facility, and a small luxury hotel once owned by Aman Resorts - Burnham Beeches has had many incarnations since it was built for the Nicholas family, founders of the Aspro brand, in 1933. But the distinctive streamline-moderne mansion in the Dandenong Ranges town of Sherbrooke has languished for the past 20 years, since Aman's Adrian Zecha shuttered what was then Burnham Beeches Country House.

Enter chef-restaurateur Shannon Bennett and developer Adam Garrison, who, as new owners, have launched the first phase in a plan they hope will make Burnham Beeches one of the premier food and accommodation destinations in the country.

So far it's all been about prep work, with an emu farm (for the eggs), a trufferie and extensive fruit and vegetable gardens now up and running on various parts of the 23-hectare property. Major building work is already under way, which will see the house reborn as a luxury boutique hotel complete with plunge pool, bar, ballroom, day spa, restaurant and rooftop croquet lawn, plus a cinema and two-lane bowling alley in the basement. There will be additional guest rooms elsewhere on the property, a small village of food businesses - bakery, brewery, steakhouse, teashop and cheese room - plus hiking trails and picnic areas to encourage daytrippers.

The bakery-café (in the old piggery - the stalls are being converted to booths) will open this spring*, with the steakhouse and the brewery on track for March 2014, and the hotel is expected to take its first guests at the end of 2015.

*Update: The Piggery Café and Burnham Bakery are now open. Read all about them here.

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