In Focus

Places We Love: A landmark property, magnificent in every way

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Teleisha Thomas

Teleisha Thomas

May 2023

Welcome home to Minilya (1900) – magnificent in every way. The landmark property is set high to maximise views over historic Maldon and across to the distant ranges.

Minilya was constructed in 1900 by Charles and Mary Calder of the politically and socially well-connected Calder family, timber merchants and ironmongers who prospered from Maldon’s lucrative gold rush era. The home has been designed in the late Victorian Rustic Gothic style, sitting on stone foundations and boasting numerous defining features of the era such as a steeply pitched roofline, elaborately decorated gables, distinctive banded chimneys and wide, sweeping verandahs.

The home's terraced gardens feature colourful cottage flowering plants with natives, fruit trees, stone feature walls and steps plus a tranquil Japanese garden. Inside, the property stays true to its era whilst providing all the modern conveniences we expect.

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We sat down with the vendors to find out why Milinya was such a special purchase and what has made their time living in the home so special.

You purchased the property in 2006, what was the key driver in your purchase?

We were seeking a unique home in a special environment within easy commuting distance to a major city; we had explored a large part of the east coast of Australia when we discovered Maldon.

Minilya was perfect and Maldon with its heritage ambience and creative culture really was exceptional; we found the historic buildings and streetscapes, the strong links to Victoria’s world-renowned goldfields’ story, and seemingly endless natural and cultural landscapes to explore to be irresistible.

Can you describe the history and significance of the property within the local community?

Minilya is rich in local history and is a result of wealth generated by the discovery of gold. The first generation of Calders arrived at Maldon in 1857, not to dig for gold but to establish a commercial enterprise which supplied the mining industry and thrived over many years.

In 1900, Charles Calder, a next generation Calder, commissioned the fashionable Minilya for his new wife, Mary. The Calder family conducted a successful business within Maldon for some 75 years; in later years Charles was also instrumental in establishing early tourist-oriented facilities as the gold mines closed.

Maldon’s heritage conservation efforts from the 1970s eventually saw Minilya house and garden lovingly restored. Minilya now reflects the town’s pride in its built heritage.

Many local people have a story to tell of an encounter with Minilya – for some it was a delightful special occasion venue with a band playing on the verandah and partying in the gardens, for others it was music lessons in the downstairs room, and yet others remember playing in the unoccupied house as children during the 1960s.

What inspired the design and architecture of the estate, and have any notable changes been made to the property over time?

Minilya was designed by renowned Italian architect, Louis Boldini, whose works in Dunedin, NZ and Victoria are of exceptional quality and great distinction. Boldini’s works in Maldon include many public, commercial and private commissions completed between 1895 and 1908. Minilya is one of two major local residences Boldini designed for second-generation Maldon merchants – it seems unlikely to be a coincidence that both houses sit directly across the road from each other looking out over town from their vantage point on the rise.

The property remains largely authentic with minimal alterations to the floor plan; the layout of the grounds and outbuildings has also been retained. Garden plantings have been reworked for resilience in the face of a changing climate and lifestyles, onsite water storage now ensures adequate supply, and several garden structures including a shade house now add to the Federation-era character.

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What are 3 words to describe the property?

Unique, iconic, elegant.

Are there any unique features or characteristics of the home that potential buyers should be aware of, such as original fixtures or architectural details?

Built in 1900 in the Federation Queen Anne style original features abound. The exterior retains all the architectural features associated with a significant home of the era - decorative timber fretwork to the verandah, elaborate gable ends, finials, tall chimneys and even a carriage house. The established garden retains its historic resonance.

All rooms retain classical elements of the style – leadlight windows, French doors, asymmetric bay windows, high ceilings with decorative plasterwork, beautiful Kauri floors and elaborate timber doors and fire surrounds. Boldini’s design has stood the test of time; the interior embraces the outdoors, and the floor plan has elegant symmetry, natural flow and an air of calm.

All combine to make Minilya a perfect home and studio combination, weekend escape, or boutique accommodation venture.

Can you tell us about any events or occasions that have been hosted at the property in the past, and how the property has been used for both personal and public purposes?

Prior to its restoration, the interior of Minilya was used as a set location for the movie ‘Break of Day’ in 1976. In more recent times, the gardens have entertained many visitors to the biennial Castlemaine & District Festival of Gardens, and have played host to afternoon tea parties and fund-raisers for local community organisations. The property has also lent itself to operating as a boutique B&B and special occasion venue.

Minilya is featured in local historic walking and self-drive tours, and has occasionally hosted visiting tour groups.

Several owners, including the current owners, have been early adopters of the WFH culture now so popular. Authors, artists, designers and makers have all made their home and work space here - the property epitomises the creative culture for which Maldon is now known.

Could you share any insights about the local community or neighbourhood that potential buyers may find appealing, such as nearby parks, restaurants, or cultural attractions?

Maldon’s wide tree-lined streets and diverse collection of historic buildings and relics offer a fascinating insight into the significant part Maldon played in Victoria’s great gold mining narrative. The town’s setting within the Maldon Historic Reserve at the foot of Mount Tarrengower ensures there is always somewhere interesting to explore whether on foot or by bike; watching the sun set or rise from atop Mount Tarrengower is magical.

Nestled at the lower slopes of Mount Tarrengower, Minilya is within walking distance of the town centre and close to the historic cultural and natural landscapes of the Reserve. Here, one is reminded to slow down, relax and simply enjoy some enchanting spaces.

Within the town there’s a vibrant local food, specialty shop, gallery and entertainment scene, plus the historic railway and museums for history buffs, and a short distance away there are water sports activities on Cairn Curran Reservoir and the Loddon River. The local festival and events calendar rivals many larger places, and nearby Castlemaine and Bendigo offer more cafes, restaurants, galleries and theatres.

A note from the agent:

The combination of a stunning garden, Victorian grace and excellent location make the choice easy to purchase such an individual property. With Minilya you will enjoy the enviable lifestyle of residing in a rural country town with all the luxury and comforts of city living.

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Minilya is for sale through Jellis Craig Castlemaine. 

Contact Leah Panos or Carole Lenander for more information or to arrange an inspection.

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