From mansion to apartments, Labassa has survived with its Victorian era decoration intact.

Labassa is an outstanding Victorian era mansion with opulent architectural features. Originally called ‘Sylliott Hill’, it was renamed ‘Ontario’ in the 1880s reflecting its new owner Alexander William Robertson’s Canadian heritage.  He had the mansion redeveloped in the French Second Empire style by commissioning the German born architect, John A. B. Koch, to remodel the house into a thirty-five roomed mansion. The interior features gilt embossed wallpapers, ornate stained glass and a rare trompe l’oeil ceiling.

Renamed Labassa in 1904 it was home to Melbourne’s elite until 1920 when it was divided into flats. The residents included Hollywood’s first Australian silent film star and other colourful bohemians. Labassa is the most lavish of the few surviving nineteenth century mansions and the magnificently restored interiors of the main rooms again impress all its visitors.

Labassa Lives Journal – the ongoing story for you to read

A reunion of more than 135 former residents, owners and their descendants in 2013 has led to an ongoing research project into Labassa’s remarkable social history during the mid 20th Century.

From 1862-1920 it was the residence of a succession of enterprising and prosperous families. Following those boom years it was divided into apartments and became home to successive waves of residents of more modest means but not necessarily modest ambitions.

Follow the different stories and course of latest research through the Labassa Lives journals written and compiled by historian Vicki Shuttleworth.



Planning your visit


2 Manor Grove
Caulfield North 3161 VIC


Open every third Sunday of each month from 10.30am to 4pm.
House tours at 11am, 2pm and 3pm.
There is also an external tour at 1pm.
Social History tour at 12pm.

Tearooms open throughout the day.

Call Bookings Office on 03 9656 9889 Mon-Fri
[email protected]
Entry Fees:

House Tours included as part of admission.
National Trust members: Free,
Adults: $15,
Concession: $12,
Children: $9,
Family (2 adults + 2 children): $35.

What we offer:

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‘If the Royal Exhibition Building was Melbourne’s public expression of confidence…then Ontario, now known as Labassa, was a private one.’

The Story of Labassa, Hammond, 2004

Labassa Lives - Labassa's social history

Louise Lovely

Louise Lovely

Following its heyday from 1862-1920, when the mansion was the domain of the wealthy, Labassa went into decline. Divided into flats it was home to successive residents of more modest means but not necessarily modest ambitions. Among them was Louise Lovely (1895-1980), the Australian born star of Hollywood's silent era

Unknown couple in Labassa's garden c1943

Unknown couple in Labassa's garden c1943

During the Second World War Labassa hosted fundraisers in aid of the Red Cross Comforts Fund. With the post-war immigration boom, it became a residence for displaced European families. Russian spies were even rumoured to have sent radio messages from the tower!

Jane Clifton at Labassa in the 1970s

Jane Clifton at Labassa in the 1970s

In the 1960s and 1970s the neglected mansion was an enclave for artists and bohemians. Singer-songwriter Hans Poulsen - of "Boom Sha La La Lo" and "Rose Coloured Glasses" fame - lived in Labassa’s tower with a pet crow. Comedian Jane Clifton lived upstairs in the servants' quarters in her “long haired moon-mother has cookie baking period” of the 1970s.

A reunion of over 135 former residents, owners and their descendants in 2013 led to many discoveries about Labassa’s social history.


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The magnificent surrounds of Labassa make it an ideal location for weddings and photography.



This grand venue can host a variety of private functions of various sizes. Perfect for cocktail style entertaining in the Drawing Room, sit down dinners in the Dining Room or music performances in the Music Room.

Photography and Filming

Photography and Filming

Melbourne's premier location for professional photography and filming, Labassa has featured in a range of professional shoots from Vogue Magazine fashion spreads, magazine covers and Hollywood movies.


Weddings and Functions at Labassa

For Wedding enquiries please contact the Functions team at [email protected] or (03) 9656 9817

More information can also be found in the following brochures:

Download The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Wedding Brochure.

Download The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) Functions and Venue Hire Brochure.

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