A short walk from the Queanbeyan River is a beautiful cafe, art studio and private residence which was once a former girl’s boarding school and convent. Large in size, Benedict house is nestled on the top of a small hill, overlooking the small New South Wales town of Queanbeyan. This historic two storey house is currently owned by a lady named Kate Shelton and her husband Paul Maloney who have transformed this once convent into a sanctuary.
Benedict house was previously known as St Benedict’s Convent which in the 1800’s educated young girls. Australia’s 16th Prime Minister Ben chiefly was named after the convent (previously known as Joseph Benedict). In the 1980’s the convent closed and was sold to a Canberra developer. In the early 1990’s former Prime Minister Paul Keating brought Benedict house with intentions of transforming it into a conservatorium of music. Kate and her husband Paul went onto buy the house in an auction in 2002.
Benedict house offers their customers a homily dining experience with a rustic antique set up. Most of the house has been maintained to its original build. Tall ceilings, heavy doors, long windows and wooden floor boards set the atmosphere.
“Every Sunday I make the drive out to Benedict house for brunch to unwind from a busy week. The food reminds me of how my mother use to cook for us, it brings me home.”
– Debbie Draper, regular customer.
Kate Shelton grew up on a farm between Moree and Boggabilla inNorthern New South Wales. Living the farm life provide Kate with an appreciation for locally, home grown produce. On the farm Kate collected chicken eggs as soon as she could walk and as she grew her daily chores increased also. Kate then learnt tasks such as rearing animals, slaughtering cattle, mustering and separating milk for cream and butter.
When Kate reached high school age she was sent to a boarding school in Sydney. After finishing school Kate travelled to Europe where her love for Mediterranean food began, which has influenced the menu offered at the cafe in Benedict house today. Not only is Kate a wonderful cook, she is also an outstanding artist. For ten years Kate was head of the art faculty at St Edmunds College, Canberra and has also displayed her own art exhibition.
In the front garden there are shady trees, a couple of small tables and a remarkable rose garden. Gates must be closed at all times to keep the small King Charles Cavalier puppies in the house, which roam freely and greet guests upon their arrival.
If you’re looking for something to do on a lazy Sunday then Benedict house is the perfect place for you. Not recommended for men, unless they are soft at heart. High tea is also worth a try, held the first Sunday of every month.