The Sydney Eye Hospital,
St Vincents Hospital, The Walker Hospital
Sydney Eye Hospital
Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital is
the oldest hospital in Australia, dating back to 1788 and at the Macquarie Street site since 1811.
Moving to the present site in
1811, Governor Macquarie's 'Rum Hospital' comprised three main buildings fronting Macquarie Street. The hospital
now stands on the site of the Central Pavillion, the original North Wing is now Parliament House, while the
South Wing became the Colonial Mint and in turn, the Mint Museum. The majority of the Hospital's buildings were
opened in 1894.
The Sydney Hospital site was also
home to the first nursing school in Australia, founded by Lucy Osburn, who was sent to the colony by Florence
Nightingale following a request by the colonial government.
St Vincents Hospital
Hospital was originally established in 1857 by five Irish Sisters of Charity, who had
migrated to Sydney in 1838 with a mission to help the poor and disadvantaged. Some of their early work included
helping victims of the 1844 influenza outbreak, and prisoners and their families of the
nearby Darlinghurst Gaol.
Three of the hospital's founding
sisters had trained as professional nurses in France, and they brought their knowledge to
the colony, establishing a hospital that was free to all people, but especially for the poor. The
original site for the hospital was in the neighbouring suburb of Potts Point. As demand grew, the
establishment was moved to its present location in Darlinghurst in 1870. The hospital celebrated
its 150th birthday in 2007.
The original building is still in
use and has been extended upwards with a third floor
The Walker Hospital
The Walker Hospital is a red brick building on the southern bank of the Parramatta River. It is now the Rivendell
Adolescent Unit (originally the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital).
Thomas Walker was born at Leith, Scotland, in 1804, and came to Sydney as a young
man. About the year 1822 he joined the firm of W. Walker and
Company, general merchants, the senior partner of which was his uncle. Some years later he acquired this
business in partnership with a cousin, and carried it on successfully. He was made a magistrate in 1835, in
1837 visited Port Phillip, and in 1838 published anonymously an account of his experiences under the title, A
Month in the Bush of Australia.
Walker was a conscientious,
benevolent man who went about doing good. He took a personal interest in his benefactions, and at one period
employed an agent, searching out and relieving cases of distress. In 1882, just before taking a trip to Europe,
he distributed £10,000 among benevolent institutions, and under his will £100,000 was set aside to found the
Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital. In its first 20 years nearly 18,000 convalescent patients, all non-paying,
received the benefit of this hospital. In the early 1900s, author Henry Lawson was several times a patient
there, treated for his alcoholism.
During the 1840's, Thomas Walker
began acquiring land in the Concord area and by the late 1860s his estate comprised 124 hectares and occupied a
large portion of the present Municipality of Concord. It stretched from Napier Street in the south to Killoola
Street in the north; west beyond the present railway line and east around Brays Bay and Majors Bay.
In 1860, Thomas Walker married
Jane Hart at Holy Trinity Church, Sydney. And soon thereafter moved to their country residence of Yaralla where
Jane died in 1870.
The hospital was exclusively for
patients who were convalescing and in need of rest, fresh air and peaceful surroundings. Patients were referred
by many Sydney hospitals including St Vincents, Royal Prince Alfred and Sydney Hospitals. Most patients stayed
for up to four weeks and running costs were met from interest on part of Thomas Walker's endowment.
The Dutch Water Gate (or
boathouse) which is a well-known landmark on the river's edge was the first building entered by many who arrived
by ferry from Sydney and contained a waiting room and a smoking lounge.
Until 1979 the hospital was
administered by the Perpetual Trustee Company but it was evident that funds were dwindling and provision of a
free convalescent hospital was no longer feasible. The hospital was transferred to the NSW Health Department and
now houses the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Unit - a centre for the care and treatment of emotionally
disturbed adolescents. It caters for inpatients (as well as outpatients) on a weekday basis many of whom attend
the Rivendell School for Specific Purposes run by the NSW Department of Education and Training. The school is
housed in the east wing of the building whilst the west wing is used as a residential unit.