Banksia Bend is a magnificent country property in the glorious Yarra Valley wine-growing district (previously known as Lubra Bend for over 100 years).
The owner, Rosemary Simpson, came to Banksia Bend in the year 2000 and later commissioned the distinguished landscape designer Phillip Johnson (winner of the gold medal Chelsea 2013), to create a rock and water garden.
Lubra Bend Garden & Homestead, Yarra Glen
Banksia Bend features a large established garden of camellias, magnolias and oaks planted by the previous owner Margaret Stokes. Today the property has a Camellia Grove, a Seville Walk, an Orchard, a Vegetable Garden and a new Dry Garden by Phillip Johnson. It is all set around a Guildford Bell-designed home (an important award-winning Victorian architect, 1912-1992) and features three sculptures by prominent Australian artists: “Pear” by George Baldessain, “Whale Song” by Peter Blizzard, and “Carbon Trader” by Stephen King.
For tens of thousands of years what is now called the Yarra Valley has been part of the extensive territory of the Wurundjeri people (their name for the Yarra River is Birrarung). When the first European settlers came to the valley in the 1830s, it is said that Aboriginal women camped along this bend in the Yarra River; when newspaper proprietor David Symes took up the land in the 1860s he named it Lubra Bend.
In 1959, the family of Russell Stokes moved to the property and built a house designed by renowned Australian architect Guildford Bell. During their 40 years on the property, Margaret Stokes created a large garden that inlcuded 60 camellias, 12 magnolia trees, a rose garden, and an extensive vegetable patch, oaks and elms.
Rosemary Simpson and her husband (now deceased) moved to the property in 2000. In February 2009, after nine years of drought, the property was completely burnt out in the bushfires. With the help of neighbours, the house and the garden were saved. Banksia Bend lost 1000 trees, kilometres of fencing, gates, a hayshed and 400 large bales of hay. It took five years of dedicated effort to bring Banksia Bend back to a working unit.
To experience the magic of Lubra Bend, visitors are required to book an appointment prior to their visit. Please note that Banksia Bend is closed in January and February.