Portsea Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Kate-Me
  • death mask of napoleon
    death mask of napoleon
    by Kate-Me
  • outside of the historic homestead
    outside of the historic homestead
    by Kate-Me

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Portsea

  • Kate-Me's Profile Photo

    The Briars Park Homestead 3

    by Kate-Me Written May 25, 2005

    Here we have the most famous exhibit of the museum (but which I still didn't know existed until recently) the actual death mask of Napoleon made about 48 hours after his death (I believe there are very few of these existing in the world, as you can imagine)

    Some of the smaller items in the Napoleonic collection included the coins which were found in Napoleon's pockets when he died, a lock of his hair and an inkwell.

    Our guide was most informative, and told us many stories of the homestead, including a few ghost stories from his own experience...by the time we left, we were half believing the house was haunted too, just like the guide... some of the stories were quite eerie.

    I had a most delightful visit to both the wetlands and homestead – I could have spent hours admiring the Napoleonic collection, from the large right down to all the smaller ones.
    My only regret is that I didn’t allow enough time to spend there – 1-2 hours is just not enough. My tip is would be to come for a picnic lunch, and spend a whole afternoon here, exploring.
    There's also Josephine's Restaurant on the hill behind the homestead, which also caters for functions.

    death mask of napoleon
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Kate-Me's Profile Photo

    The Briars Park Homestead 2

    by Kate-Me Written May 25, 2005

    Besides the homestead, there is so much else to do as well, which surprised me (especially considering the low $3-$6 entry fee, which covers everything including the guided tour of the house).
    There is a very informative Visitor Information Centre with much information on the flora and fauna of the area, great displays, activities such as night ranger hikes and astronomy, and also large fish tanks in the centre of the room featuring tortoises and other small fresh water creatures.

    The Briars Park set aside 96 hectares of woodlands and recreated wetlands in a reserve. It has been surrounded by an electrified fence to keep out pests and predators.
    There is a series of walking tracks and boardwalks each between 1 – 4 kms in length for visitors to explore the Wildlife Reserve, where kangaroos and wallabies can sometimes be seen. Over 50 species of birds have been observed in the lagoons. The reserve is also home to the rare Spotted Marsh frog.

    The Napoleon memorabilia is spread over several rooms. Pictured is one of the main one featuring larger pieces of Napoleon's furniture, including the table at which he sat while on St Helena and wrote his memoirs.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • Kate-Me's Profile Photo

    The Briars Park Homestead at Mt Martha

    by Kate-Me Written May 25, 2005

    The Briars is one of the most historic properties on the Mornington Peninsula, situated about 20 minutes south of Frankston.

    What brought me here though was not the house, beautiful though it is, or the numerous wetland walks you can take around the property (I didn’t know about those before) or even the restaurant called Josephines… but rather the house’s history of French connections and its Napoleonic collection with even a very rare death mask of Napoleon which was made only hours after his death.
    The story is a little complicated, but here goes.
    In 1846, a man by the name of Alexander Beatson Balcombe and his family purchased the property and built the first part of the 12 room homestead. They named it
    ‘The Briars’ after the family home on the island of St Helena.
    William Balcombe, father of Alexander, whilst living on the Island of St Helena, befriended French emperor Napoleon who was in exile there. (William seemed to have been, at first, a kind of jailer to Napoleon, and the latter stayed in his house while Napoleon’s ‘official’ lodgings on the island were being built).
    Before his death, Napoleon presented the family with items of furniture and memorabilia, which formed the basis of the collection. It was added to over the years by Alexander’s granddaughter, Dame Mabel Brooks, and that is how it comes to be on display in the Briars homestead.

    The Briars Homestead stayed in the family from 1846 right up until 1977 when it was presented to the local shire and National Trust of Victoria for preservation and the public to enjoy.

    Park open every day 9 am – 5 pm. Wildlife reserve open daily 9 am – 4.30 pm
    Note: homestead opens later – 11 am – 4 pm (guided tours only)

    Address: Nepean Highway, Mt Martha 3934

    outside of the historic homestead
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Portsea

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

32 travelers online now

Comments

Portsea Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Portsea off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Portsea sightseeing.

View all Portsea hotels