We were at an antique furniture auction in High Street, Armadale in the late 1980s. My friend nudged me.
'Psst, over there. Sir Rupert Clarke and his wife. I saw their Roller parked outside.'
I observed a a short and dapper man with a tall and horsey wife with buck teeth.
Sirs were getting thin on the ground by the late eighties in Australia. We don't make them anymore, thank you Lizzie.
Over the subsequent years, I assumed Sir Rupert and Lady Clarke lived at Rupertswood in Sunbury, but no, they never did. His grandfather built it, but sold it to another famous bloke, William McKay of the Sunshine Harvester fame, who in turn sold it on to some nobody? called William Naughton and just a year later in 1927 it was bought by the Salesian Brothers who still own the house and some of the land. The site now houses a catholic school and the main house is accommodation with dining.
The Rupert Clarke who I saw so many years ago was the third Sir Clarke, his grandfather being William, the only Australian born Baronet ever awarded the title. The title is the only active hereditary title in Australia and since the third Sir Rupert Clarke died, his eldest son Rupert is up for consideration.
Naturally all comments are welcome if suggesting that people with hereditary titles are a blight on societies.
Oh yes, we took a drive to Sunbury and had a look. Very nice building and setting. We partook of the local bakery's fare while sunning ourselves in the main street. Sunbury has all the big stores and seemed pretty well serviced. The locals, well, hmmm, interesting mix.
We were welcomed to Rupertswood by what both R and I know as a Monkey Puzzle tree.
Ok, the setting is perhaps not that great, because of parking for the school and outbuildings. Parts of the setting are nice.
The front of Rupertswood. It had a ballroom added later, in a different style, but even at the front of the house, I could detect some alterations. It is said to be the largest house in the State of Victoria.
Must have a circular gravel driveway around a bed of rose bushes, otherwise it could not be a grand mansion.
The train line to Bendigo is quite close by. Rupertswood used to have its own railway station for visitors from the city when they came up for balls, hunting, tennis parties and rooting around with each other's spouses.
A lake is another essential ingredient for an impressive country mansion, and yes, Rupertswood's artificial lake. R does not like large birds like these, so we stayed in the car, but the geese were very curious and approached. I raised the car window a bit, just in case you know.