Chestnut Hill Conference Lodge

The Chestnut Hill Conference Lodge conference, leisure and dining areas, can be booked for exclusive, or shared client use. 

Hours of operation
9am to 5pm Mon-Fri

For bookings
call 03 9755 2145
or email us
History PDF Print E-mail

Ownership of Chestnut Hill

Pre 1893Mr McPhee. His house was arguably the first to be built in the area.

1893Mr Frederick Miller

Six roomed house of sawn and split timber, with iron roof.
Settlement was orginally called South Sassafras.
5 Acres of fruit trees.


Owned by businessman Mr. T. Crook, owner of National Stores, Prahran.
Planted the chestnut trees and set out the garden.


Mr. & Mrs. Squire Kennon (see Photographs page)


Chestnut Cottage was built.


New house built at Chestnut Hill. Two level Californian Bungalow.


Mrs. Kennon officiated at the cutting of the ribbon ceremony for the Inauguration of Kallista, a forest village.

Change of name from South Sassafras to "Kallista", (meaning "most beautiful", from the name of a Greek island, north of Crete. Now called Thera.)

The Kennon's gardener, Angelo Boroni, was a frequent winner of the Spring and Autumn Kallista Flower Show for his fruit and vegetables.


Mr. J. J. Haverty


Mr. Henry (see Photographs page)


Jack & Ivy Beer
Guest house


Kenneth & Rona Easthaugh
Guest house


Outreach International Church (see Photographs page)
Restored the Chestnut Hill House, built the Lodge in 1977/78 and terraced and landscaped the property.


Kevin Morley
Chestnut Hill Marian Lodge.
Restoration done to the Chestnut Hill House and Chestnut Cottage.
Extended the Lodge to 30 beds and extended the Living Room in the Lodge.


Robert & Catherine Ellis
Experience in workplace training and event management.
Restoration of Lodge and House.

The Dandenongs

Aboriginal ceremonial grounds and meeting places were located at Clematis, The Patch, Silvan, and Mt. Dandenong. Of importance were the upper Olinda Creek area, Bald Hill in the Cardinia Reservoir catchment and Monbulk. The Wurrundjerri people inhabited the foothills, near water, where fish, game and wildfowl were abundant. The forest provided food, clothing, and shelter. The first settlers arrived in 1835 and the land surrounding the Dandenongs quickly became pastoral leasehold. Aborigines supplied squatters with fish and ducks from the waterways. They acted as guides into largely impenetrable forest where some of the tallest trees in the world were found.


With the advent of Puffing Billy in 1900, road improvements and the change to motor buses, tourism reached it's heyday in the 1920's, bringing brief prosperity to the many guest houses scattered throughout the hills.

Artists & Writers

They looked to the hills from the beginning, finding the Dandenongs an ideal setting for their creativity. Before World War I, C. J. Dennis completed "The Sentimental Bloke" in a superseded horse tram at Sunnyside, Kallista, where others of similar tastes gathered in this original accommodation. Monbulk was a second home for Mrs Aeneas Gunn (Author of "We of the Never Never") who did much of her writing there. Rose Charman's Cottage in Emerald was the venue for another group of writers. Sir Arthur Streeton in Olinda and Tom Roberts in Kallista were the best known of many artists who frequented the hills from the 1920's.


The battle continues as it has done for 150 years, to maintain a balance between preserving the natural environment and the requirements of industry and rural living. The diverse wildlife that inhabits the remaining forest reserves depends on maintenance of bush corridors in private hands.


Fires have swept through Kallista as elsewhere in the hills, leaving few traces of early settlement in the area. Timber fellers came first in the early 1850's, following down the creeks where the mightiest trees grew. The stumps of some of these were big enough for a family to live in. Sherbrooke Forest today is all regrowth. It was possible for early settlers in the trackless bush to lose themselves, even between the bark hut and the creek that provided their water supply. One stump beside the track from Belgrave became a meeting place where a settler left an individual stone as he passed by. If he did not return to collect it, his neighbours would be alerted, and a search would be organised for him. A recreation of this symbol of the past stands opposite the Kallista Primary School.
Artist Tom Roberts' studio still stands on private property, and at the top of Tom Roberts Road, the subject of one of his paintings can be seen; the Pink Cottage, restored after being crushed by a falling tree. In the early 1920's the school hall was built.


With thanks to Dorothy Williams (writer and local historian) for the engrossing chats.

Suggested Reading:

Living in the Dandenongs
A Social History

Author-Dorothy Williams

A Village in the Forest
A Story of Kallista

Authors-Alec Reid, Betty Hotchin, Yvonne DeLacy

Story of the Dandenongs
Author-Helen Coulson