Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Ansett Summer House

I have been intrigued by the Summer house on the old Ansett Estate in Mount Eliza for so long that I felt the need to find out more  about it.
I walk on Moondah Beach quite often and the Summer house is tucked away at the southern end of the beach on the way to Sunnyside beach.

It is the charm and quaintness of the Summer house that has drawn me to this story but the darker shades that lurk behind this veneer are what has lured me to probe further.

The Ansett family lived in Mount Eliza on the family estate - Gunyong Valley from 1940. The property extends down to the foreshore and the little Summer house was the venue for the family's warm weather holidays. In the 60's and 70's they would pack their swimsuits and summer clothes and walk down the long driveway to the beach and enjoy the summer holidays on the beach.  Sir Reginald kept his family rather cloistered and having read some interviews with the Ansett girls Janet, Jane and Jill this was a trait that presented some difficulty for them. A comprehensive article in The Australian reports that Sir Reg kept his first family, John and Robert, completely separate from his second family. The girls did not know they were adopted nor of the existence of the boys until later years. Whether this was because his second wife Joan orchestrated the situation is not clear. John believes his father must have been complicit in this. Jill stated that her father outright denied that Bob was her brother when his Budget car business hit the headlines.

The Ansett family was the subject of a doco on the ABC - Dynasties, and the synopsis is well worth a look if you are interested in the way Reginald Ansett conducted his life.   It also gives an insight into the events that followed his death and the fallout from his Last Will and Testament. The Australian reported on the final outcome that may bring some peace to the family after years of protracted legal proceedings.

I admire the attitude of Janet - "I'm not going to ruin the rest of my life by being bitter about it all," she says. "Out of something bad, something good always happens. As a result of this, I am now in contact with John for the first time in 50 years. That is fantastic and that is a real plus in our lives."

 The charming shutters are now gone and replaced with bunker style awnings - a sad necessity I suppose.

The property is now owned by Chas Jacobsen and the auction was the talk of the town when it smashed the Victorian auction record at the time. The Age reported on the day. Controversies still continue to this day as there have been issues with the use of the land, council permits and even signs regarding nudity and other scurrilous goings on in the bushes!

 Keep your clothes on!

But none of this interrupts my day dreaming of owning this little sanctuary. I imagine coming out in the morning and looking across the water to Mornington and out further to the ships crossing the bay. I'd play with the dog and paddle in the water and collect shells to my heart's content.  Come to think about it,  I already do all that except the bit about owning the Summer House.

This would be my view first thing every morning.


Tell her she's dreaming...

 Dream on.


  1. I used to go to that beach house all the time when I was younger. My parents were friends with the old owners and we always used walk down the long winding road and would spend hours at the beach there with friends and family building sandcastles and we would always visit Norman Lodge next door to it. Had so many wonderful times and stories there. Wish I could go back

  2. Does anyoneone know Chas Jacobsen? Would like to get to know the guy. He is so inspirational


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