From mansion to flats, 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, who remodelled 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 impress all its visitors.


Return to Labassa

A reunion of more than 135 former residents, owners and their descendants in 2013 led to an ongoing research project into Labassa’s remarkable lived history over 143 years.

From 1862-1920 Labassa was the residence of a succession of enterprising and prosperous families. Following those boom years it was divided into flats and became home to successive waves of residents of more modest means including socialites, world war heroes, Jewish refugees and bohemian artists.

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


Read the Labassa Lives Journal


Upcoming Events

Sunday 19 September

Labassa Open Day – Through the Eye of a Lens

10am – 4.30pm (last entry at 3.30pm)

See this extraordinary mansion through the eye of the lens with a presentation of works by some Labassa’s most significant photographers

Labassa’s grand architecture and exquisite decorative features have drawn generations of amateur and professional photographers. See this extraordinary mansion through the eye of the lens with a presentation of works by some Labassa’s most significant photographers.

Guided house and photography tours, storytelling and photo displays tours available at each session.

Quirky ‘critters’ hunt for families.

Your ticket includes entry into the mansion, a guided house tour followed by an exterior/photography tour.

Bring your own camera or camera phone and join a photographic tour to get some insider tips on how to get that WOW shot.




Sunday 21 November

A Taste of Christmas Open Day

10am – 4.30pm (last entry at 3.30pm)

Are you ready for Christmas?

We’ve decked the halls, decorated the tree and set the dining table with all the style of a sumptuous 1890 banquet.

Learn how to make your own Christmas decorations and vintage cards. Take a guided tour and hear how the mansion’s residents celebrated the festive season from the days of Marvellous Melbourne, through two World Wars and into the Swinging 60s.



Planning your visit



2 Manor Grove
Caulfield North 3161 VIC


Labassa is open on the third Sunday of the month.

Bookings Office on 03 9656 9889 Mon-Fri
Entry Fees:

National Trust members: Free,
Adults: $15,
Concession: $12,
Children: $9,
Family (2 adults + 2 children): $35.

What we offer:

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Labassa Open Days

Purchase tickets to a Labassa Open Day


‘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

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


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


Weddings and Functions at Labassa

For Wedding enquiries please contact the Functions team at 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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