The Convent Gallery

Following a very successful morning at Lavandula in Shepherds Flat, Dave and I climbed into the car and headed back towards Daylesford to visit the Convent Gallery. On the way through Hepburn Springs we passed Villa Parma, resulting in a shout from me and whiplash for Dave as he tried to catch a glimpse of this Italianate beauty.

Recently restored to its former glory, Villa Parma is a stately home now available for groups, families and wedding parties to lease for a luxurious getaway. As the website states that it’s also available for weddings, I’m putting another Daylesford trip on our to-do list so I can check it out! In the meantime, if anyone wants to book a holiday there and invite me along, please feel free.

But back to the Convent Gallery. I have wanted to visit the Convent ever since I bought my first car. The daughter of the lady I bought it off had married at the Convent and pictures of the wedding graced their living room wall. I was entranced and my first visit didn’t disappoint.

Entrance to the chapel, Convent Gallery

The Convent Gallery sits atop Wombat Hill and looks out over Daylesford and surrounds. Built in the 1860s as a private residence, it was purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s for use as a convent and girls’ boarding school. It closed in 1973 and spent years in neglect before being purchased by artist Tina Banitska in 1988.

The gardens

After years of renovations, the Convent reopened in 1991 and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary as one of Victoria’s most unique venues. When Dave and I arrived, it was late morning and the Convent was bustling. Couples and families populated the Bad Habits cafe (where we later enjoyed their famous scones) and visitors wandered through the Gallery.

We made our way up to the former nun’s chapel on the first floor. Built in 1904, the chapel has an air of warm intimacy about it. I found it all too easy to picture myself standing on the front platform next to a groom, a beaming bride making her way towards us.

The chapel at Daylesford's Convent Gallery

As it’s non-denominational, the chapel offers an alternative for couples who would like the feel of a church wedding with the freedom to define their ceremony themselves. It also allows you to marry amongst all of Daylesford’s splendour without worrying about what the weather might do to your plans! Best of all, adjoining the chapel is the St Lawrence atrium, a sun-drenched space with views of the convent gardens and a wide balcony for guests to enjoy drinks and canapes on afterwards.

We then set off to explore the gardens. Behind the convent proper is a gravel path set amonst flowering roses and lavender bushes. Take the walk, I promise it’s worth it. We made our way up to the very top of the gardens and enjoyed the view over Daylesford and the convent itself. Looking down over the atrium, I couldn’t help but imagine how lovely it would be to stand in the gardens, champagne in hand, admiring the view with guests milling about.

Now, if someone could just bring me a glass of champagne...

The team at the Convent have really thought of just about everything a couple might need for their wedding day. In addition to the atrium, the St Michael’s room can seat up to 120 guests for a reception and the Altar Bar on the ground floor is available for a post-reception party that stretches long into the evening. And when the bride and groom are ready for some time to themselves, a luxurious penthouse apartment on the top floor can be reserved for the wedding night.

The Altar Bar on the ground floor is on offer as an after-party destination

Now that I’ve been, I can’t believe I waited so long to visit the Convent Gallery. I can’t wait to go back. If you fancy getting married there, give me a call!

If you’d like to see more of the Convent, I’ve posted more pictures here.
Corner Hill and Daly Streets, Daylesford
Next post – Lake House, Daylesford.