Once the home of world famous opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, Coombe Yarra Valley is a unique gourmet and cultural destination. Situated among seven acres of stunning gardens, visitors are treated to a world-class dining experience featuring award-winning Coombe Farm wines, against a historic, picturesque backdrop.
Coombe Yarra Valley is the perfect location for a wine-tasting, private event or wedding, a tour of the garden and gallery or simply an outstanding meal in the a la carte restaurant.
Helen ‘Nellie’ Porter Mitchell or Dame Nellie Melba is fondly remembered as Australia’s most famous operatic diva.
Born on the 19th May 1861, Melba was the first Australian to achieve international recognition as a classical musician. At the height of her success she was said to be the most famous woman in the world.
Melba trained and performed in Melbourne before moving to Europe in search of a career in singing. She studied in Paris in 1886, and worked successfully in Brussels before establishing herself as the leading lyric soprano at Covent Garden, London in 1888. She then performed in most European cities before debuting at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1893.
During the First World War, Melba raised large sums for war charities and she was an enormous supporter of all facets of the arts.
Known for her flamboyance and impeccable sense of style, her friends included famous artists, actors and royalty. The celebrated French chef Escoffier is a noted friend, who famously created the dessert Peach Melba in her honour.
She returned to Australia regularly after she built Coombe Cottage in 1912 and was active in the teaching of singing at the Melbourne Conservatorium. She continued to sing until the last months of her life, making a legendary number of ‘farewell’ appearances until her death in 1931.
David Mitchell, Dame Nellie Melba’s father, was born in Scotland in 1829, completing a stonemasonry apprenticeship before travelling to Australia in 1852.
On arrival, he headed to the goldfields, working as a builder in Bendigo before heading back to Melbourne where he set up a building contract business and brickworks in Burnley St, Richmond in 1856. He married Isabella Dow and together they had ten children. His eldest surviving child, Helen, would become the famous Dame Nellie Melba.
His building and business ventures were prolific and his influence widespread. As a stonemason and an employer, he was prominent in the acceptance of the 1856 ‘Eight Hours’ labour movement, the procession of which is marked by the current Labour Day public holiday. His buildings included the Menzies Hotel in William St (1857); Scots Church, Collins St (1873-1874); Presbyterian Ladies College, East Melbourne (1874); the Masonic Hall, Collins St (1888); and the Equitable Insurance Building (1893). His grandest venture was the Exhibition Building in Carlton that was opened in 1880.
Pamela was Dame Nellie Melba’s only granddaughter and much beloved. She was born in 1918 to Melba’s son George Armstrong and Evelyn (Evie) Doyle and christened in the garden at Coombe Cottage.
Spending much of her life in the UK and returning to Australia in the 1970’s, Pamela resided at Coombe until her death in 2011. She was the guardian of her grandmother’s legacy and a lover of children and animals. She gave generously to charities and institutions that shared the same regard.
Upon Pamela Lady Vestey’s passing in 2011, Coombe Cottage the Melba Estate, was left to her descendants.
Coombe Cottage, the Australian home of famous Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, is located ‘behind the hedge’ at the gateway to the Yarra Valley at Coldstream.
Melba purchased the sixty-acre dairy farm in 1909, renaming the property Coombe Cottage after a house she had rented in England while she was performing at Covent Garden.
Coombe Cottage is still the private residence of Melba’s family and was the home of Melba’s grandaughter Pamela Lady Vestey until she died in 2011.