“Rovina” – 3808 Point Nepean Road, Portsea
- Character-filled residence on 1600 square metres of land overlooking Portsea Pier and Fishermans Beach
- Sea views
- Mediterranean-style villa built from solid bluestone and Hawthorn bricks
- Open-plan entertainment areas
- Four fireplaces
- Marble floors
- Original fittings and fixtures
- Self-contained cottage
- Boat shed
- In-ground pool
- RT Edgar – 5984 4500 in conjunction with Kay & Burton – 5984 4744
- Price – $8 million +
- Expressions of interest close February 18 at 5 pm
- See more about this property and others in Portsea here.
The old adage that “it’s all in the name” could have been written expressly for this house on the cliff at Portsea. Rovina, overlooking the Portsea Pier and Fisherman’s Beach, takes its name from the Latin, meaning ruins. The dramatic residence was built in 1962 from materials salvaged from some of Melbourne’s most significant buildings as they were demolished to make way for steel and glass skyscrapers.
Buildings such as the Colonial Mutual Life Building in Collins Street and several banks – all demolished in the 1960s – provided the granite columns, bluestone blocks and slate flagstones. Huge timber beams came from bridges in country Victoria and the marble, Welsh slate and Hawthorn bricks from houses deemed past their use-by dates.
The result is the massive structure that stands proud and strong on the cliff. A testament to its quality is that its three owners have changed very little. Original fittings and fixtures, including two Frigidaire wall ovens (state-of-the-art at the time), sunken marble baths, limed timber and woven fabric wallpaper, remain. Original copper guttering and downpipes are still doing the job they were designed to do.
Rovina was designed by architect Geoffrey Sommers for Larry and Peggy Watkins, well-known in the meat trade, to resemble a Roman villa with a central courtyard housing a circular swimming pool. The living rooms are ranged around three sides of the courtyard, with a bedroom wing on the fourth side. All open to the courtyard and pool.
Veteran agent Warwick Anderson recalls watching Rovina being built more than 50 years ago. “They used to go to Whelan the wrecker and collect pieces from demolished buildings in the city,” he says. “The builders were three Irish brothers who were like giants. It was fascinating to watch them haul the marble and bluestone blocks on to the site.”
The southern end of the house is warmed by a huge stone open fireplace, one of four in the house. From there it’s on to the bar and the kitchen and dining room where sliding glass doors open to the central courtyard. The dining room features a wall of exposed bricks and a carved white marble mantelpiece. A full-width sitting room fills the northern side of the building. Sliding windows open to the terrace where an ancient moonah tree is flanked by granite columns.
From the terrace with its Italianate columns, the water and boats at anchor seem almost within touching distance. The beach, reached by a private path, is at the base of the cliff. The buyers of Rovina will be given the first option to purchase the boat shed at the bottom of the cliff below the house.
Inside once more, the main bedroom suite, which occupies the northern end of the bedroom wing, has a marble en suite and walk-in wardrobe. French doors opening from the bedroom to the terrace are an added bonus. The rest of this wing is taken up with three bedrooms and a bathroom.
Back at the front of the house there is another bathroom, laundry and mud room. A fishing room, with external entry, is set up with a trough for cleaning fish. A side gate near the front of the house offers a glimpse into Rovina’s “secret garden” and its self-contained bluestone cottage, where slate floors and an open fireplace continue the theme, albeit on a smaller scale.