"Shrublands", Balwyn Rd, Canterbury

This majestic mansion is a local landmark, sitting in a prominent position on the top of a hill and visible from the original Canterbury village in Maling Road. It was the first substantial home in the precinct when completed in 1863.

It was originally designed by architect John Flannagan, for Ernest Carter, a dentist. It is designed in the Italianate style with classical detailing. The style of the house, with a return verandah and balcony with bay window, became common around the 1880s in both larger houses and cottages. Today, the original house is mostly intact externally.

Once built, the house was surrounded by 16 acres of garden, including orchards, an orangery and a vineyard. In 1879, Carter acquired additional land to increase his holdings to about 87 acres. The boundaries of the estate were the present day Balwyn Road, Mont Albert, Chatham, and Canterbury Roads.

Carter was an inaugural member of the Melbourne Vinegrowers Association and he read their first paper at Shrublands in May 1868.  Shrublands labelled wine was produced from the property in the 1860s and 1870s, when the Boroondara area was one of Victoria's leading wine growing regions. The basalt basement cellar, which still exists today, was used to store the Shrublands wines.

In 1883 the estate was subdivided and the house was sold to John Hindson (a broker) and his wife Alice. Hindson bought some adjoining allotments and commissioned architect William Wolf to extend the house to the west in 1889. The extension is of a similar style to Flannagan's design.

The Shrublands mansion became a superb setting for social functions including garden parties and balls, as well as charitable events. However the current owners have returned Shrublands to a family home.

In the 1890's, some of the surrounding land was sold. After John Hindson died in 1921, Alice subdivided the remaining seven acres, and donated the allotment with the house to the Anglican Church.

In 1926, the house became the St John's Home for Boys. An extension to the north was constructed in 1934 in similar architectural style and the cellar rooms were converted to a chapel.

In 2003, the site was sold to the current owners who have undertaken extensive refurbishment works. They removed the old cottage at the front of the property in order to develop the area into formal gardens. They also added a new entrance to the property and installed a period front fence with lion sculptures to allow an uninterrupted view of Shrublands from Balwyn Road.

A number of large trees including a Bunya Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii) and Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodar) from the original estate still exist on the site and others are evident amongst the surrounding properties. There are now also beautiful sculptures and fountains within the grounds.

Inside, many of the beautiful period features have been restored and retained. A number of the rooms have been decorated in keeping with the heritage of the house. There are also contemporary relaxed day-to day areas, such as the informal lounge.