Jonathan Chancellor | 13 November 2012

Country House Rescue envisaged for Mintaro, the sold $3 million 1882 Monegeetta, Sunbury district mansion

Country House Rescue envisaged for Mintaro, the sold $3 million 1882 Monegeetta, Sunbury district mansion

Mintaro, the 1882 Monegeetta, Sunbury district mansion, has been sold at its $3 million reserve price.

It had been passed in shortly before at $2.85 million at its November 15 onsite auction. It's been bought by Brian and Cheryl Glassel of Toolern Vale who intend to restore the house as a residence.

The new owners plan their own "Country House Rescue'' with tours and dining experience set to make the "property pay for itself". Country House Rescue is an observational documentary series on the British television channel, Channel 4, where an expert visits a struggling country house to turn its fortunes around with advice on making more usage of the estates.

More than 500 attended the onsite auction, with three bidders.

The 9.9-hectare estate was an executor's sale, concluding 78 years of family ownership by the Rae family.

"A once undeniably grand and gracious country residence is now in need of total restoration with outstanding future use potential," its selling agent John Keating of Keatings Real Estate says.

It's a smaller replica of Melbourne's Government House, which was built by a Captain Robert Gardiner to a design by architect James Gall. The auction crowd included Gardiner family descendants.

The property is 56 kilometres from the Melbourne GPO at Monegeetta on the Melbourne Lancefield Road.

John Keating advised potential buyers of its $3 million reserve price in the advertising material for the Victorian Period Italiante-style mansion.

"Buyers love the transparency of declared reserve auctions and if the reserve is set at a realistic amount, the publication of the reserve price acts like a buyer-enquiry magnet," he said.

It was listed by the executors of the estate of musician Derek Rea.

When the house was entered on the register of the National Estate in 1978, the accompanying notes indicated that it was in a "superb state of intactness and is being meticulously restored".

It's close to land owned by the Department of Defence for its Land Engineering Agency (LEA).

Photos of the house in 2007 on Walking Melbourne show it surrounded by dozens of derelict cars prior to its yard clearance sale.

Picture courtesy of Walking Melbourne

Robert Gardiner was born in Scotland in 1812. He and his first wife, Susan Foley, had five children. He first came to Tasmania, where he was involved in the whaling industry. He was one of the earliest European settlers in the Berwick area, having taken up a pastoral lease in 1837.

The front room of the property is painted with his initials on the ceiling.

The walls are painted with friezes of whaling, pastoral and gold mining, which is reputedly how he made his money.

Robert Gardiner, who was the great grandfather of ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann, died in South Yarra in 1889.

"I wish we had another couple of Mintaro's we could offer to the unsuccessful bidders, but unfortunately they just don't exist," Mr Keating said. 

There were 230 purchaser enquiries and some 85 inspections during the market campaign.