Fairfield heritage walk

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In 1837 Colonial Government surveyor Robert Hoddle divided the lands surrounding Melbourne into parishes such as Keelbundoora (to the east of the Darebin Creek) and Jika Jika (to the west of Darebin Creek).

Within these parishes, Hoddle laid out Crown Sections and Allotments for future sale. Land sales were held in the Jika Jika parish during the Melbourne land boom of the 1840s yielding the site of future Fairfield.

Yarra Bend

In 1848 the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum opened beside the Yarra River at a site selected by Hoddle. The area had been known as 'Fairfield' since the 1860s but was mainstream by the 1880s when James & Dobson created their Fairfield Park estates. The area is commonly thought to have been named after Fairfield in Derbyshire, England.

As well as the Asylum, Yarra Bend was the site of a number of the city's institutions including the Merri Creek school (a mission for aboriginal children established in 1848), and the Queen's Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital.

19th century recreational facility

Accessed by the Johnson Street cable tram, Yarra Bend was also a popular 19th century recreational facility. The area accommodated a number of boat houses and the Deep Rock Swimming Basin, and the associated Deep Rock Swimming Club, which remained a popular spot for competition and recreational swimming well into the 20th century.

Yarra Bend National Park

After the Asylum was decommissioned in 1925, its landscaped grounds joined Studley Park to become the Yarra Bend National Park in 1926. The park's head gardener was Hugh Linaker, previously the gardener for the Asylum.

Improvements were carried out in the 1930s catering for games and picnics, including the Kane suspension bridge (1934) and the Yarra Bend National Park Golf Club House, designed in 1934 by Percy Everett, Chief Architect of the Public Works Department. The park was bisected by the Eastern Freeway in the 1972.

This walk explores the land at Yarra Bend in Fairfield which has been traditionally reserved and used for public purposes. Explore the sites of:

  • the former Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum
  • the former Fairfield Infectious Disease Hospital
  • the former Fairlea Women's Prison
  • the former Bluestone Quarry
  • the former Aboriginal Protectorate
  • the Yarra Bend Golf Club