The 1920 and 30’s


NARRATOR:  By 1920  Madame Annie Ferrero and Mr William Birdling are the owners.

Madame Ferrero, please tell us about your time here.

Madame  Annie Ferrero:

“As you came in through the main door, you would have seen the fine new fountain installed in the Oxford frame courtyard.   The house was built like 4 matchsticks laid in a cross, with the noisy corners closed off so as not to disturb the guest rooms. 

Image of Annie Ferero

I sold off some land and built a 9 hole golf course on the cliffs above Balcombe Point.   A Colonial wine license has been acquired.    The bathroom and toilets were communal and so everyone wait’s their turn.

The Motor car is beginning to be seen on the Peninsula, but the cars have to return to the Nepean Highway to continue their journey to Dromana and the Heads.   

Official census figures in 1921  show the village population as 98

My son Alreno  built a general store down below the house, below the current tennis courts,  which  provide supplies for the local holiday houses and shacks, as well as summer tourists.   Alreno is planning a petrol bowser to supply any cars which come through to Mt Martha.”


Annie died in her home here, suddenly  in 1922 she was buried in Brighton cemetery.  Her son Alreno continued to live nearby and became a Shire of Mornington Councillor with Ferrero Dr and Ferrero oval named after him.

After Annie’s death, Mount Martha House changed again this time to a syndicate including Sir Robert Knox.   He ran the establishment as a private guest house, enjoying the modern facilities.  1926 brought the telephone, and in  by 1928  mains water from Beaconsfield reservoir reached Mount Martha.   By 1930  at last electricity  has come to Mount Martha.      The sewerage overflow onto the beach caused considerable pollution up until 1960’s when the sewerage connection from Melbourne to Gunnamatta outfall was built.

In the 1930’s to address the considerable unemployment of the Depression years, the Esplanade towards Safety Beach was built, using government driven short term employments.  The Government spent a  thousand pounds over 7 years on the road to Dromana, known as the Marine Drive (Esplanade).

1936 Sir Robert Knox then sold Mount Martha Hotel for 14,000 pounds to another syndicate of Sir Robert and Thelma Suiter, who then married Walter Pride.  Together with their 7 year old son David, who went to boarding school at Ivanhoe Grammar, Mount Martha House became their home. Her family Florence and others were regular visitors.   Walter Pride was a Shire of Mornington Councillor, was very well-liked and respected by the community.

MRS PRIDE please tell us about your establishment.

“We have installed 2 new walk in cool rooms, and electric lights in all rooms.   There are now hot water showers and baths, as well as a sun lounge.   There is car parking on the asphalt forecourt and a lock up garage for your motor car on the Kilburn Grove exit.   

 Your maid can use the new electronic ironing room, behind the kitchen.   Some private sitting rooms have wood fires, with the fuel collected from the nearby bush.     Fly screens have been installed for your comfort.  There are new striped curtains and polished boards.   Parties and dancing is in the front drawing room (room 64),  and the drawing room is room 5 which boasts a radiogram, and there is a resident pianist, on the pianola.  Regular dances Friday and Saturday nights.    Parlour games and a smoking room make this a very comfortable modern Guest House.

There is a visiting Doctor for your ills, and guests enjoy a game of golf – the entrance is by “Nyora”, on Golf Links Road up Prescott Avenue.  There are several Mount Martha House Golf Championship Trophies and many Melbourne ladies come for a weeks golfing.     

You can go fishing in one of our boats or horse riding up over the hills.   Tennis, croquet and petanque can be played on the grass below the house.  An abundance of rabbits and hares caught on the mount are regularly brought to the chef to cook for dinner”.    


Mt Martha House was the local telephone exchange and where locals collected their mail deliveries, as well as the lost dogs home.

By 1939  The House had fallen in to some disrepair and was ready for demolition and replacement with a multistorey building, but was saved by World War 2

Mount Martha House was sold to a business partnership of Miss Hunter and Mr Smithers, who retained the hotel during World War II, when much of Mount Martha was requisitioned by the Department of Army.

Please move down the passage to your left and around the corner to outside room 11 for station no 5 for the World War 2 and the Department of Army


GORDON. M.   Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula  pages   year

ANDREWS. C.  Mount Martha House pages

CALDER.W. Mt Martha Its Land and People

CALDER. W.  The Changing Face of Mt Martha

Trove – Newspapers

State Library of Victoria

Map of Mount Martha Estate: Mornington & District Historical Society Inc

FLOOD.  R.  descendent of Mme Etzenberger.

BROWN. S. descendent of Madame A Ferrero

PRIDE. D verbal recollections of living here.

RIVINGTON. R  descendent of David and Florence Pride

HEWITT. E  descendent of David and Florence Pride

Brochure of Mount Martha House

Mornington & District Historical Society Inc

Mt Martha House Historical Collection