The only surviving example of the many fashionable river front residences built along the Barwon River during the 1850s and 1860s for the wealthy of Geelong.
Built for the merchant and banker Jonathon Porter O’Brien and his wife Ann, the house was filled with mahogany furniture, damask curtains, Bohemian glass, Dresden china, a piano, two music boxes, card-tables, paints, chess and backgammon boards.
The extensive library featured a ‘Cyclopaedia of Medicine’ and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The cellar was stocked with wine and spirits, the conservatory filled with plants, sculptures, a collection of coral and two canaries in brass cages.
The O’Briens lived in the house for only a year but, over 160 years later, the Gothic Revival house’s unique features are still to be seen including a veranda balustrade, a rare smoking room and an early conservatory.
About the site
Built in 1854, Westbourne Villa was one of several luxury riverside villas along the Parwan (Barwon River) in South Geelong, Victoria. Suffering irreparable fire damage in the 1960s, it is now evident only as a raised grassed mound and was partially excavated in 1997.
The Como Archaeology Festival is presented in conjunction with the Australian Archaeological Association.