History & Heritage
Hume has many historic bluestone bridges, railway viaducts and churches. The area is home to Emu Bottom Homestead (c. 1835), Victoria’s oldest homestead; the bluestone cellar doors of Goona Warra Vineyard (c. 1858) and Craiglee (c. 1866). The former asylum (c.1864) is another imposing building overlooking the township and the old Sunbury Courthouse and Aitken’s Gap Gaol are other links to Sunbury’s past.
Old Sunbury Courthouse – Sunbury Visitor Information Centre
43 Macedon Street, Sunbury
Tel. (03) 9744 2291
Aside from being the site for the Information Centre for the area of Hume, the Sunbury Courthouse is steeped in history in its own right. In 1884 the Government decided to construct a permanent Court House in Sunbury and the tender was awarded in 1885 to Dodridge and Roberston at a cost of ₤507/9/6. The courthouse was operational until 1989 when it was officially closed. In 1992 restoration work commenced and in 1993 it re-opened as a Visitor Information Centre. Link to Visitor Information Centre
History of the Ashes
It was on the cricket field of Rupertswood that the Ashes were created. Over the Christmas of 1882, eight amateur members of the English touring side were house guests of the Clarkes. Sir William organised a social hit between the English and his guests, and with the English proving victorious, Janet Lady Clarke burnt a bail, the ashes of which she placed in a small urn and presented to the English Captain (Ivo Bligh).
Sunbury Historical Tours:
Industrial School for children
Women’s Refractory Prison
Victoria University Historical Sunbury Campus – The Avenue, Circular Drive, Jackson’s Hill, Sunbury
Bookings essential: Tel. 0422 807 248
Discover what institutional living was like in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Join tour guide and local Sunbury resident Julie Mills on a journey back through time to explore these significant periods of the Institution’s history. Explore six of the Hospital’s buildings including the Admissions Office, Male Receiving Ward, Male Special Admissions Ward, Female Infirmary, Morgue and Women’s Refractory Prison. Discover past patients who had been incarcerated behind these walls one hundred years ago and learn about why they were in here. Learn about the various medical treatments that were administered to patients during this time, seclusion cells, padded cells and various other forms of restraints that had been used, as well as the eventual decommissioning of these buildings.
Historical walk around Sunbury
Tel. (03) 9744 2291
Sunbury has many walking trails, most featuring historic sites. The entire Sunbury Region features many historic bluestone bridges, railway viaducts and churches. Some of the historical features of Sunbury include: Catholic Presbytery, Mount Carmel Church and Primary School (1864-75), Ball Court Hotel (1860), Dunblane (1893), Old Wine Saloon No. 33 (1870), St. Andrews Uniting Church (1904), St. Mary’s Church (1867), Sunbury and District Soldier Memorial, Joseph Starkie Fountain (1915), Sunbury Cannon (1865), Catholic Convent (1916), plus so much more. The “Sunbury Heritage Walks” brochure lists four of these walks, giving a brief outline of the local history.
Pick up your free copy at the Sunbury Visitor Information Centre, 43 Macedon Street, Sunbury.
3 Macedon Street, Sunbury
Tel. (03) 9740 5020
At the end of a long winding drive, nestled amongst mature trees, stands Rupertswood, a remarkable architectural expression of the more genteel, Victorian era. Its magnificent proportions and unique gardens lay testimony to the privilege and power that prevailed on these grounds. Built as a residence for Sir William Clarke, first Australian born Baronet, it became a power seat in the great English tradition. Balls, hunt meets and week-end house parties were frequent. Anyone of note was entertained by the Clarkes including the Duke & Duchess of York (who later became King George V and Queen Mary), Dame Nellie Melba and several Governors of Victoria. The mansion, which has been beautifully and authentically restored is now used as a reception/conference centre and boutique accommodation. For more information visit: http://www.rupertswood.com/
The Village Green
Cnr Barkly & Brook Streets, Sunbury
The Sunbury Village Green is a unique place. It is not a true village green in the traditional sense, but was created as a result of the closure of Stawell Street to traffic. Stawell Street provided a key link between the early settlement of Sunbury and the commercial precinct that later blossomed with the opening of the railway in 1859. This area includes original churches, St Mary’s (1867), St Andrews (1870) as well as the old Mechanics Institute (1885 – now known as Memorial Hall), War memorial, Starkie Fountain memorial and Sunbury Gun (1864) used by the Rupertswood Battery.
Emu Bottom Homestead
Homestead Road, Sunbury
Tel. (03) 9744 1222
George Evans sailed on the “Enterprise” from Launceston under the guidance of Captain Hunter. The schooner found its way to the mouth of the Yarra River and moored on its northern bank on August 30, 1835. In 1836 George Evans arranged to have his sheep (which he had taken as payment for carpentry work) transported to Victoria from Van Dieman’s Land and together with William and Samuel Jackson, combined herds and trekked twenty miles to the present site of Sunbury.
Evans, the Jacksons, Sams & Aitkens grouped together on Jacksons Creek (probably for protection), until their homesteads were completed. Evans sited his homestead three miles down stream in a valley frequented by emus! Emu Bottom was gutted by bush fire in 1851, causing George Evans to make repairs and to add a second wing, detached and set at right angles to the first. The second wing contained a large kitchen with overhead loft, cool room and parlour. The film industry has used the site for Cash & Co, Against the Wind, Tandara and Eliza Fraser. The Regional News (May 1986) announced Emu Bottom as the winner of the individual category of the inaugural Australian Heritage Award presented by the Australian Council of National Trusts.
Emu Bottom is today used as a reception centre. For more information visit: www.emubottom.com.au
Indigenous Earth Rings
The earth ring sites are extremely rare. Only eight earth rings are documented for the entire state of Victoria. Five of these are found in Sunbury. The Sunbury rings are shallow, circular depressions, partially enclosed by raised earth rims. They range from 15 to 25 metres in diameter. One of these sites was excavated in 1979 and yielded the discovery of 164 stone artefacts and revealed that the ring had been made by human hands. When & why they were made remains a mystery but it is believed that they formed part of a male initiation ceremony.
Please note: the sites are protected under legislation and people must not enter the fenced areas around the rings.
For more information on the rings and the local Indigenous history of the region please contact the Sunbury Visitor Information Centre (03) 9744 2291 or email: email@example.com.
Victoria University site
Circular Drive (Jacksons Hill), Sunbury
In the 1860’s Sunbury was chosen as the site for a purpose built Industrial School with 10 bluestone buildings to accommodate children. Most of these children were abandoned, orphaned or neglected due to the gold rush at both Ballarat & Bendigo. The living conditions at the time were atrocious and ill health predominant. In the school’s first year alone, ten children died, earning the school the nickname of the “Sunbury Slaughterhouse”.
The school was closed after 14 years and was re-developed from 1879 as an institution for psychiatric patients. It is during this period that the “old asylum” is most remembered. Also known as Caloola. In 1994 Victoria University moved onto the site, but has subsequently closed its doors and Hume Anglican Grammar is currently the tenant.
You can pick up a copy of a “self guided” tour for the University at the Sunbury Visitor Information Centre, 43 Macedon Street, Sunbury or call (03) 9744 2291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Aitken’s Gap Gaol
43 Macedon Street, Sunbury
The Aitken’s Gap Police Gaol was erected in 1857 at a cost of ₤200. It was built near the Calder Highway West of Sunbury where there was a small town known as “The Gap”, originally called Aitken’s Gap after the pioneer sheep farmer John Aitken. The Town sprung up with diggers spending the night on their way to the goldfields after the gold rush started in Victoria in 1851, and was in use until 1863.
The Gaol was mostly used for the safe storage of gold and cash on route to the Treasury in Melbourne. In 1863 Aitken’s Gap Barracks were closed and in 1989, the owner of the building Mr Bruce Akers (as it was now on his land) generously donated the building to the Sunbury Police to be rebuilt for the community as a monument to our pioneering past.
In 1988 the Gaol was relocated to it’s present location – between the Police Station and the Old Courthouse in Macedon Street Sunbury. For more information please contact the Sunbury Visitor Information Centre on (03) 9744 2291 or email: email@example.com.
A Walk Around Old Broadmeadows Village
Broadmeadows Historical Society, Pearcedale Parade, Broadmeadows
Open 2nd Sunday of the month, weekdays by appointment Tel. (03) 9302 1456
Now known as Westmeadows, Old Broadmeadows Village was developed in 1850. Some of the historical features include: The Police Lock-ups (1859), District Roads Board Building (1866), St Anne’s Roman Catholic Church (1867), The Presbyterian Church (1850’s), The Vicarage for St Paul’s Anglican Church (1860), The Old Coach House, Foresters Hall (1887), Stone Bridge (1869), The Old Court House and The Hotel. Pick up a copy of “A Walk around Old Broadmeadows Village” from the Broadmeadows Historical Society, Pearcedale Parade, Broadmeadows.
Woodlands Historic Homestead
Visit historic Woodlands Homestead (1843) which overlooks the grassy woodlands of Gellibrand Hill. Bike, hike, ride your horse and picnic in the park. Scarred trees and surface stone tool scatters are evidence of the Woiworung Aboriginal people who lived in the area before European settlement. The park also contains the ruins of two other 19th century homesteads, Cumberland and Dundonald.