Historic Stays Experiences Harvest Home

Harvest Home is a unique heritage boutique hotel, nestled in the historic township of Avenel, which was a popular stopover point for drovers on their journey from Melbourne to Albury. Originally built circa 1870, the building has a rich history, with second storey added in the early 1900s. Harvest Home has been a hotel, a private residence, served as the town’s general store for many years; and in the 1980s, was a well-known destination for Melbourne’s elite. However by 2018, this grand dame was in need of significant repair when owner & host Samantha Lewis took a tour of the property. She instantly fell in love with building’s period charm and enduring sense of opulence – and knew then & there she wanted to bring Harvest Home back to life.

With the help of her family, a full restoration ensued, involving careful preservation of the charming period details throughout, including turned wood staircase, original floorboards, doors and windows, pressed metal ceilings, and multiple open fireplaces, with several in use. In the cosy bar area is a stunning coloured leadlight window featuring the hotel’s name, Harvest Home Hotel, and radial fanlight in the side entry door with three ‘H’ initials in ruby glass. The wide, shady wraparound verandahs with cast iron fretwork still remain, loved by guests for long lunches, sunset drinks, and to sit quietly with a coffee watching the sun rise over the town.

Each boutique suite has been designed to celebrate their unique heritage features, whilst providing modern comforts. Upstairs are four individually-decorated suites in the original hotel building. The grandest suite, The Overlander, features a king size bed and second room with double bed. A further two suites are downstairs, with access to the adjacent kitchen garden. In total, the hotel sleeps 14 guests, and cots and trundle beds can be supplied upon request.

All suites have their own heating & cooling, and coffee and tea making facilities, including Harvest Home’s own herbal tea blends, created in partnership with The Cottage Herbalist in Victoria’s Central Highlands. Ensuite bathrooms are equipped with shower or clawfoot bath, and complimentary Australia-made Ena Products made with pure essential oils.

A delicious continental breakfast is included in your stay, including gourmet granola and yoghurt, artisan sourdough and homemade preserves. On weekends when the hotel restaurant is open, Harvest Home’s chef can also whip up guest favourites including Avenel mushrooms, shakshuka (baked eggs), and giant pancakes.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, dine in the hotel’s intimate restaurant by candlelight and crackling open fireplaces. Menus by chef Martin Golding feature modern Australian fare with fresh produce from the on-site kitchen garden, accompanied by a bespoke drinks list featuring local award-winning wineries and distilleries. Should you choose to stay midweek, your hosts are happy to organise evening meals so you can still enjoy dinner in, along with a quieter ambience throughout the hotel.

There are several lounge areas throughout the hotel where guests are free to relax, play a board game, or toast marshmallows by the fire. Upstairs, you’ll also find a large terrace with seating and festoon lights, that’s perfectly positioned to take in breathtaking sunsets overlooking the pool and gardens.

 Oozing French countryside charm, the garden is a hidden oasis – walk through the hotel gates where the fragrance of old roses hangs upon the air, dine under the glorious weeping Elm or in the picturesque gazebo. The expansive grounds, courtyard surrounding the pool, and romantic cottage gardens create an old world, European feel. Adorned in wisteria, the Pavilion, a conservatory-style outdoor function space, is the perfect setting for weddings and celebrations.

And if you’d like to take a little piece of Harvest Home away with you, next door you’ll find Oh Hay Babe, with a curated selection of local handmade produce, bath & body products and homewares available for purchase.

by Historic Stays

Four Years On

Photo: Kate Shanasy.

It‘s four years today since collecting keys and embarking on the hugely challenging yet greatly rewarding mission that has been reviving Harvest Home.

The original 1870’s darling had been sitting empty when we discovered her in a state of great despair 2018. A couple of decades prior she was a playground for the rich and connected. Celebrity chefs featured, helicopters landed in the paddocks next door and people would party for days. Harvest Home put Avenel on the map and she was known far and wide across the lands!

I’ll never forget the day I first met her. My father and I were out the front unloading his ute as he’s brought a few things to town for me for a community event I was running the next day. The owner happened to be there and he offered to show us around.

I had no idea what to expect and to say I was blown away would be an understatement. The ornate ceilings, grand fireplaces, my jaw hit the floor as I entered the first room and I must have eaten dust the whole way around the building as I don’t think it closed! My poor Dad. I think with every discovery of each new detail, he knew what monster this tour was creating. He knows me too well to not have known what would come next. It looked so impossible, which is why it just had to be done. This incredible building, with all its charm, was just sitting here, unloved and falling apart, locked up and hidden away from the world, sad and lonely. She deserved more. I simply just couldn’t leave her there. Not now that I’d discovered her. We were supposed to be there that day, we were supposed to find her. It was to be my obligation to bring her back to life. 

And now, four years on, two years riddled by lockdowns followed by severe staff shortages and then illness outbreaks, we feel lucky to still be here. We’ve survived, only just, but we’ve survived!

The support, kindness and enthusiasm from our customers, and the passion and loyalty from our staff have meant everything and are the only reason we’re still standing.

I just want to say a huge thank you to the extended HH family. We love you all, we love serving you, we love seeing your smiling faces and hearing your stories. Thank you.

Since the darling old girl missed out on her 150th birthday party due to covid pooing all over 2020, we’re throwing her a big bash in October. The Orlando Combo Jazz Band will be providing outstanding entertainment and we’re very excited to get dressed up, eat, drink, dance and celebrate Harvest Home with all her friends!

Cheers,

Samantha
Harvest Home Avenel

A little bit about us…

Just off the Hume Highway in north central Victoria, less than an hour and a half from Melbourne lies the historic township of Avenel. Best associated with old Ned Kelly tales, the quaint town has a few new stories to tell now.

In the centre of town, on the corner opposite the old railway station you will find Harvest Home Avenel, a regional oasis – boutique hotel, restaurant and garden – disguised as an “old pub on the corner”.  

Beyond the heritage exterior lay stunning manicured gardens surrounding a swimming pool with an abundance of separate private and unique dining spaces. As you walk through the front door you are greeted with a welcoming smile, grand fireplaces, ornate ceilings and original creaky floorboards, each room with its own character and tales to tell. The charming boutique accommodation breathes old world charm and integrity, having been renovated and decorated with love and respect for the building’s history. Antique windows, curated collections, fine linens and cosy textures will all lull you into a peaceful repose.

The dining menu by Chef Martin Golding features modern Australian fare accompanied by a spectacular bespoke drinks list stacked with wine, beer and spirits from award-winning wineries and distilleries, all of them local. Sustainably minded, many dishes comprise of home-grown ingredients from the kitchen garden or from selected ethical local suppliers. Kitchen scraps go to a local winemaker’s beloved chooks, and the favour is returned in the form of beautiful eggs.

Avenel sits in the centre of a largely untapped wine region and for too long has been left off the tourism map. With many reasons to visit, Harvest Home Avenel is the regional escape that has it all, accommodation, restaurant, café and regular themed events. Come up on a Friday night and slot in with the locals for the gin and whisky club, or settle in by the fire, wine in hand. Discover what the surrounding community has to offer and let the country hospitality warm your heart.