Millions of dollars and 12 years’ work has ‘RATHGAR’ shining

15 July 2023
by Bonnie Campbell | As featured in the Australian Financial Review 15 July 2023

As featured in the Australian Financial Review 15 July 2023

When Vicki Clarke, her husband Aidan and two children set foot in Melbourne’s historic ‘RATHGAR’ in 2012, they knew it was the start of a special and, at times, consuming relationship.

“We immediately fell in love with her old bones and majesty.” Vicki says. Eleven years later, and at a “very, very significant cost”, their vision has been realised. Now, the Clarkes have deemed the time right to list their expansive five-bedroom Melbourne home.

Rewind to 2016, and the couple’s big plans to restore the grand dame to her former glory (and then some) hung by a thread. Exhausted after a lengthy and frustrating planning process, the couple were faced with a choice: sell up and start over, or unearth a new plan to transform ‘RATHGAR’. Then a chance introduction by a friend to principal at STAR Architecture, Aleksandra Rakocevic, would decide the Clarkes’and Rathgar’s future.

Ms Rakocevic worked alongside Visioneer builders to fuse Rathgar’s original 1886-built Victorian Italianate mansion with a high-tech, contemporary extension surrounded by gardens by Jack Merlo, of Chelsea Flower Show fame.


“We have a four-level lift, and we have a car lift which takes vehicles downstairs to both the garage and the workshop where you can have your cars washed and serviced. Also downstairs is the cinema and two cellars along with a bar featuring backlit onyx stone, accessed by a powder-coated aluminium Enxie staircase. ” – Vicki says.

‘RATHGAR’ now features a glass entertainment pavilion inspired by Phillip Johnson’s Glass House, which connects to the tennis court, creating a venue to host neighbourhood parties.

Rathgar’s costly and extensive renovation received industry attention, winning the 2019 House of the Year at the HIA CSR Victorian Housing Awards and took out the Australian Renovation and Addition Project award in 2020.

“There’s a place for every moment you want or need or feel. You can be physically active, you can be chilling our in the sky lounge looking at the storms rolling in, or you can be busy in one of the kitchens, or hosting out in the pavilion.” Vicki says.

Now the Clarkes are heading bush, at least as far as the undulating hills around Kyneton in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges.

View Listing: 149 Victoria Road, Hawthorn East

As featured in the Australian Financial Review 15 July 2023