Monbulk’s Mountain Grand
The Mountain Grand is the well-known 1900s heritage building at the Belgrave end of the Monbulk township.
An early owner of the Mountain Grand was Bill Thompson, who was sometimes known to serve afternoon tea down by the creek.
Mr and Mrs George Russell from Wandin leased the business from Mr Thompson from 1932 to 1934, serving afternoon teas to locals and day-trippers.
In 1934, Steve and Lucia Skepper bought the freehold of the Mountain Grand and it remained in the family until 1988.
The Skeppers built up and expanded a thriving establishment fondly remembered by many local people.
Life was busy for the Skepper family, opening from 7.30am to 10pm seven days a week.
Their mixed business of newsagency and cafe with seating for about 100 people served afternoon teas, three-course meals and catering for wedding receptions.
This was all part of life at the Mountain Grand during its heyday.
Fresh fruit and vegetables were brought from the Victoria Market every Saturday morning and ice cream was delivered from Stevenson’s Ice Cream Factory on Monbulk Road, Belgrave.
Milk, measured out from a large can, was delivered by Mr Cavey using his horse and cart while bread was delivered from LeJuge’s bakery in The Patch.
Meat was from Les McAllister’s butcher shop in Monbulk’s main street and delivered by Jack Dennison, who had a large basket over his arm as he rode his horse to do the deliveries.
The Mountain Grand was a booking office for Green and Delaney Cars and then, later, US Bus Lines.
During the 1930s, accommodation in Monbulk was hard to find.
The SEC announced electricity was coming to Monbulk in 1936 and accommodation had to be found for their workers.
The Skeppers built a bungalow at the back of the business and enclosed two large verandahs providing accommodation for 12 men.
The family also had three permanent boarders who ate their evening meal with the family.
The boarders were Mr Fenwick, Mr Sinclair and Claude Poole, who worked for Anderson’s mill up the road.
On Christmas Eve, all joined in a celebration at the Mountain Grand.
Wireless sets were a popular form of home entertainment and on Melbourne Cup Day locals and day-trippers would fill the shop to listen to the race.
In 1946, the Mountain Grand was repainted for Stephen Skepper’s 21st birthday.
This is when the spelling of its name was changed to Mountain Grande.