The History of Keebles
History of Keebles Country House Est.1863
Keebles was originally built as the Telegraph Hotel in 1863 and in 2013 it celebrated its 150th year. It
has been a hotel, temporary hospital, girl’s boarding house, bus terminal, gas works and reportedly
was a Cobb & Co station among other more lurid uses in its early days. In the late 1890s it was a
meeting place for the “founding fathers" working on the Federation of Australia.
It is on 3.5 acres plus an acre of creek reserve along Creswick Creek.
In 1988 Joy and Alan Keebles bought the property and undertook extensive renovation to the house
and garden with large lawns as a feature. They converted it from a hotel to a B&B.
In 1996 Tim Hayes and Michael Waugh bought the B&B. They changed the garden and ran Keebles
for ten years as a B&B until we acquired it in 2007. We used the property as a family holiday house
for five years before offering it for short term rental during 2012.
We renovated the house as well as appointing Simon McCurdy to undertake a major re-landscape.
He spent six weeks with six gardeners living in and employed a massive amount of equipment to
install the golf green and tees, the tennis court, garden lighting, drainage and extended brickwork
around the house. He installed the sprinkler system, enlarged and rebuilt the pond and laid out the
garden beds and paths under the design of Linda Eva. He also installed the small circular lawn near
the weeping elm.
We also erected new fencing, some of the pergolas and the bridge over the pond at this time. The
large firs, birches, weeping elm and lilac trees, some standard roses and some box hedges remain
from before our time, together with the weeping willow on the roadside and the gum tree near the
rotunda which has an aboriginal heritage overlay.
Since 2006 the garden has undertaken extensive replanting and further development including
fencing, pergolas, seating, rockeries, etc over the last few years. The garden has always suffered
from soils which may be excellent for finding gold but are not so good for growing plants.
It was badly affected during the long drought and recent hot summers which led to the installation
of the water tanks holding 110,000 litres. Perhaps even more damaging were the severe frosts of
recent winters which killed many of the new plantings. On one day last winter the temperature
reportedly fell to minus five degrees overnight.
Finally, the floods of late 2010 and early 2011 in Clunes removed much of the mulch and topsoil
from the lower garden around the rotunda. As a result most of the current plants we have been
progressively introduced in recent years.
The garden now includes a range of young camellias, rhododendrons, roses, crab apples, daphne,
manchurian pears, (along the creek line) magnolias, maples and sections of ferns and hydrangeas.
The paths are lined by lavenders and agapanthus. It is now largely a traditional, ornamental English
garden but with some native and unusual sections.
It has a beautiful ambience, particularly around the rotunda. It evokes a feeling of calm and
relaxation as you wander around. We hope you enjoy the garden of Keebles Country House.
Bronwyn and Brian Ball