James Butchart wore the air of one destined for worldly success, when he was hardly past boyhood. He was a short man, but the lift of his head, the set of his mouth, the vigilance of his eyes, and the adroitness of his broad, strong-fingered hands were things that marked him out as one who would prosper in the Australian colonies. Within an hour or two of his landing from the 400-ton sailing ship William Nicol, on February 15, 1842, he had seen enough of the youthful town of Melbourne to have no qualms about his future. – John Hetherington

At the first chance he sat down and, in his brisk and masculine hand, wrote a characteristically self-confident letter to his father, back on the family farm at Auchtermuchty, in Fifeshire, Scotland. ‘I have no fear of getting on well enough’ he wrote. ‘The climate is most delightful and it only requires the exercise of the three virtues of patience, prudence and perseverance to do well.’ Buildings with a Past (20), a series of articles published by The Age 1963 by John Hetherington.

James Butchart certainly did well and built Beleura in 1863 on land he purchased at Schnapper Point, now Mornington which, after his death in 1869, was described as the finest mansion in the colony and sold to Charles Edward Bright who married Anna Marie Georgiana Manners-Sutton, daughter of Sir John Manners-Sutton, Governor of Victoria 1866-1873. Beleura thus became the unofficial summer retreat for the Governor and his family.

Subsequently owned by a succession of rich, powerful and successful families, Beleura was purchased in 1916 by Sir George Tallis but held in his wife Amelia’s name, and again used as a summer retreat. Sir George was the first owner to add land to Beleura, giving it an estate sufficient to support a fine house.

Lady Tallis died in 1933 and Sir George, who in retirement farmed Beleura and a splendid property Braehour at Wagga Wagga, continued to use Beleura as a summer retreat.

Sir George died at Wagga Wagga in 1948.

In 1950 Jack Morton Tallis, or John as he preferred, took Beleura by family agreement saying at the time that it was a momentous decision, and not wholly a wise one.

His life thence on was dedicated to the preservation of Beleura. John Tallis died in 1996 and bequeathed Beleura and its considerable contents to the people of Victoria. In 200 years a visitor will be able to unravel how we lived in the second half of the 20th century, an astonishing legacy.

Anthony Knight OAM

James Butchart

Charles Edward Bright

Caleb Joshua Jenner

Sir George Tallis

Amelia, Lady Tallis

Beleura Verandah

John Tallis

John Tallis



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