03 Dec Coombe – The Melba Estate, Coldstream
Coombe: The Melba Estate is the former residence of Dame Nellie Melba, consisting of seven acres of beautiful gardens and buildings and first purchased in 1909. Madame Melba (born Helen Porter Mitchell) was the first Australian opera singer to gain international recognition. For $25, visitors can embark on a guided tour around the gardens followed by morning or afternoon tea. All proceeds go towards maintenance of the estate. Our tour was led by Daniel Johnson, the manager of Coombe Cottage. Well-maintained cypress hedges enclose terraced lawns, gardens, a croquet lawn, an old tennis court, a rose arbor and the oldest swimming pool in Victoria. It also features a most beautiful English oak tree that is hundreds of years old. Coombe Cottage, where Dame Melba actually resided, still holds many of her personal belongings including art, jewellery and clothing. The Melba Gallery features a selection of these collections for public viewing. The gardens surrounding Coombe Cottage were first prepared in 1909, under the guidance of W.R. Guilfoyle, who was the curator of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Following the tour we settled down in the restaurant for afternoon tea. The restaurant is housed within the restored motor house and clock tower with Executive Chef Tony Milton at the helm. Apart from morning and afternoon tea, the restaurant also serves both an á la carte and degustation. Its menu utilises seasonal ingredients and produce grown on the estate itself from its veggie gardens, glasshouses, orchards, free range chickens, cattle and grapevines. This seasonal approach follows the principles of French chef August Escoffier, who created Peach Melba, Melba Toast, Melba Garniture and Melba sauce in honour of Dame Melba. The three-tiered platter offered a selection of scones, sweet and savoury pastries, sandwiches and other sweet treats. Accompanying the scones, which are made using a family recipe, was some of the estate’s Peach Melba jam and clotted cream. The strawberry tart had a surprise sliver of chocolate above the base of the pastry and the rich white and chocolate truffles provided a decadent delight. Of the afternoon tea spread, the highlight for me was the Coombe Farm pate on Melba Toast, which was rich, smooth and tasty. The modern décor of the restaurants and its beautiful surrounds makes for a wonderful function space; we had a wonderful time at Coombe, wandering around the gardens and relaxing over afternoon tea.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Coombe – The Melba Estate as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.
Coombe – The Melba Estate
675 Maroondah Hwy
Coldstream, VIC, 3770
(03) 9739 0173