Letter 1 - Ripponlea

Ripponlea Estate

Ripponlea is a heritage-listed historic mansion located in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick, Victoria and is a prime example of the elaborate Victorian architecture of the time.  The mansion is set on 7 acres of lush gardens and features 33 rooms, including a ballroom, drawing room, and library. The interior of the mansion is adorned with ornate plasterwork, stained glass windows, and intricate wood carvings.

Ripponlea, named for Sargood's mother's maiden name of Rippon, was built in 1868 for Sir Frederick Sargood and his wife Marion and remained in their family until 1910. It underwent many structural changes, including redesign work, additional rooms and a the construction of a tower. It was one of the first houses in Australia to be lit by electricity.

During the 1920 the property belonged to Benjamin Nathan, then his daughter Louisa from 1935.  During these years, prominent Australian architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear was commissioned to redesign the mansion. The renovation included the addition of a large wing, as well as a new ballroom and a state-of-the-art kitchen. The interior of the mansion was updated to reflect the fashionable Art Deco style, with bold geometric patterns and streamlined furnishings. The gardens were redesigned to incorporate a sunken garden and a tennis court.

Ripponlea became a popular location for high society events during the 1920s, hosting lavish parties and entertaining prominent guests.

Today, Ripponlea is open to the public and serves as a popular venue for weddings, events, and guided tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Victorian elite.

Hist ...... Hark

C.J. Dennis was an Australian poet famous for his humorous and light-hearted verses about Australian life. One of his most famous poems is "Hist! . . . . . . Hark!", which tells the story of two friends wandering through a dark and eerie possum park at night.

The poem is filled with a sense of adventure and excitement as the two friends encounter various animals and noises in the darkness. 

Hist! . . . . . . Hark!
The night is very dark,
And we've to go a mile or so
Across the Possum Park.

Step . . . . . . light,
Keeping to the right;
If we delay, and lose our way,
We'll be out half the night.
The clouds are low and gloomy. Oh!
It's just begun to mist!
We haven't any overcoats
And - Hist! . . . . . . Hist!

(Mo . . . . . . poke!)
Who was that that spoke?
This is not a fitting spot
To make a silly joke.

Dear . . . . . . me!
A mopoke in a tree!
It jarred me so, I didn't know
Whatever it could be.
But come along; creep along;
Soon we shall be missed.
They'll get a scare and wonder where
We - Hush! . . . . . . Hist!

Ssh! . . . . . . Soft!
I've told you oft and oft
We should not stray so far away
Without a moon aloft.

Oo! . . . . . . Scat!
Goodness! What was that?
Upon my word, it's quite absurd,
It's only just a cat.
But come along; haste along;
Soon we'll have to rush,
Or we'll be late and find the gate
Is - Hist! . . . . . . Hush!

(Kok!. . . . . . Korrock!)
Oh! I've had a shock!
I hope and trust it's only just
A frog behind a rock.

Shoo! . . . . . . Shoo!
We've had enough of you;
Scaring folk just for a joke
Is not the thing to do.
But come along, slip along -
Isn't it a lark
Just to roam so far from home
On - Hist! . . . . . . Hark!

Look! . . . . . . See!
Shining through the tree,
The window-light is glowing bright
To welcome you and me.

Shout! . . . . . . Shout!
There's someone round about,
And through the door I see some more
And supper all laid out.
Now, Run! Run! Run!
Oh, we've had such splendid fun -
Through the park in the dark,
As brave as anyone.

Laughed, we did, and chaffed, we did,
And whistled all the way,
And we're home again! Home again!
Hip . . . . . . Hooray!

 Shaw Neilson

John Shaw Neilson was an Australian poet who gained recognition for his lyrical poetry that celebrated the natural world. His poetry often reflects his love for the Australian landscape and his deep appreciation for the beauty of the flora and fauna found in it.

Two of his most well-known poems, "To a blue flower" and "The white flowers came", exemplify his poetic style.

"To a blue flower" is a poem that focuses on the beauty and fragility of a small blue flower that the poet encounters on his walk. The poem is imbued with a sense of wonder and reverence for the natural world.

In "The white flowers came", Neilson describes the arrival of white flowers that signal the arrival of spring. The poem captures the joy and hopefulness that comes with the arrival of new life after a long winter.

Neilson's poetry is characterized by a simplicity and sincerity that gives voice to the beauty of the natural world and speaks to the heart of all who appreciate it.


 Sources for images and further reading