Blog Archives

Kokoda remembered

This year marks the 75th anniversaries of the Kokoda campaign during the Second World War.

The Kokoda Campaign, from July 1942 to early 1943, involved Australian troops in a desperate and vicious fight in the Owen Stanley Range and on the beaches of northern Papua to stop the advance of Japanese forces.

The anniversary has a special resonance for the City of Canada Bay through the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway. This beautiful memorial takes the form of an 800 metre rainforest walk which links Concord Repatriation General Hospital, where many Second World War veterans were nursed back to health, and Rhodes Railway Station. A series of 22 stations along the walkway highlight places of significance in the New Guinea campaign and pays tribute to the tremendous sacrifice made by Australian soldiers.

The Australian War Memorial will mark the Kokoda Campaign with a special Last Post ceremony on 2 November 2017.

Rivendell blooms

The first large scale flower show to be held in Inner West Sydney will be happening this month with the inaugural Rivendell Flower Show.

The event will be held in the beautiful grounds of Rivendell, formerly known as the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital, and will bring together displays by floral designers and gardening personalities, along with a range of other activities celebrating the pleasures of gardening.

The Rivendell Flower Show will be held over two days, 23 to 24 September 2017. All funds raised by the event will go towards Concord Hospital’s Department of Geriatric Medicine for the establishment of a gymnasium for the Strong@Concord program.

The photograph, above, shows the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital in 1911.

Yaralla Open Day


Described as one of City of Canada Bay’s hidden gems, the magnificent estate of Yaralla at Concord West is one of the few large nineteenth century estates in Sydney to survive largely intact.

The City of Canada Bay Heritage Society will be hosting an open day at Yaralla on Sunday, 30 October 2016. Visitors will be able to enjoy a guided tour of the stables, dairy, squash court and gardens of the Yaralla Estate. There will also be a display of historic photographs.

The photograph, above, is from an album of photographs held by the City of Canada Bay Museum and shows one of Yaralla estate’s horse drawn vehicles in front of the stables. The photograph was taken by Samuel Spink about 1910.

Bookings for the open day are essential, details at City of Canada Bay Heritage Society. More images of Yaralla can be seen on flickr.

Explore Yaralla


To coincide with NSW Seniors Festival, City of Canada Bay Heritage Society will be presenting a ‘Virtual Tour of Yaralla’.

The presentation explores the fascinating story of Yaralla from the original land grant to Isaac Nichols through the ownership of the Walker families to its contemporary use as a health facility. The presentation includes many rarely seen early photographs of Yaralla. The ‘virtual tour’ will be held at the City Canada Bay Museum on Saturday, 9 April 2016 at 2pm.

For those interested in seeing the Yaralla Estate as it is today, City of Canada Bay Heritage Society will be hosting an open day on Sunday, 24 April 2016. Bookings can be made online.

Celebrating Halloween through the years


Eadith Walker’s lavish entertainments at Yaralla were a highlight of Sydney’s social scene in the first part of the twentieth century.

One such party on the 31 October 1913 celebrated Halloween. Guests were transported from Sydney on the steamer Bronzewing and on arrival at Yaralla found that ‘Everything was beautifully arranged. The grounds were illuminated and the house decorated most appropriately with yellow drapings and black figures… of black cats, spiders, owls and bats… some of the electric lights were painted to represent witches cauldrons.’

City of Canada Bay Heritage Society will be hosting an open day at Yaralla on Sunday, 25 October 2015, 9.30am-2pm. While Concord Library will be celebrating Halloween this year with a special ‘Trick or Treat for UNICEF’ on Saturday, 31 October 2015, 2-3pm.

Discover Yaralla

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Sydney Local Health District and Soldier On will be hosting an open day at Yaralla on Sunday, 13 September 2015, 10am-2pm.

Soldier On, a charity dedicated to linking returned servicemen and women and their families with health services, will soon take up residence at Woodbine Cottage on the Yaralla Estate. This continues the long tradition of Yaralla’s association with health care services.

Prior to the open day, Concord Library will be hosting a special morning tea for Seniors with guest speaker Patricia Skehan who will be sharing stories of Yaralla and the original owners of the estate, the Walker family, on Wednesday, 9 September 2015, 10am for 10.30 start.

The photograph shows part of the magnificent gardens at Yaralla.

Tantalising tales

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The magnificent estate of Yaralla at Concord West is one of the few large nineteenth century estates in Sydney to survive largely intact. The story of Yaralla is closely entwined with the history and development of the local area.

Local author Patricia Skehan will be sharing some tantalising tales of Yaralla at a special morning tea for Seniors to be held at Concord Library on Wednesday, 9 September at 10am for a 10.30am start. Patricia is the author of The Walkers of Yaralla, Eadith: Concord’s royal kin and Where the blue wattle grows, all of which are available at City of Canada Bay Libraries.

Bookings may be made online or by calling 9911 6210.

Concord Repatriation General Hospital

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The history and achievements of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital are celebrated in a new display at the City of Canada Bay Museum.

Concord Repatriation General Hospital was completed in 1942 to meet the needs of sick and injured servicemen and women who served our country in the Second World War. Originally it was known as 113 Australian General Hospital. The building was designed by architects Stephenson and Turner and has touches of art deco. At the time it was awarded the Sulman Memorial Prize for Architecture and, more than seventy years later, the building has stood the test of time.

After the end of the war the hospital continued to provide services to returned service persons and has expanded its role to meet the needs of the community of Sydney and, indeed, New South Wales.

The display on the Concord Repatriation General Hospital can be seen at the City of Canada Bay Museum until the end of June 2015. There will be a talk by Alice Kang at the museum on Saturday, 7 March 2015 at 1.30pm. Alice has been closely involved with the hospital for some 40 years.

The image, above, shows the original architect’s model for the hospital.

Hessian haute couture

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In March 1943 the 3rd Women’s Hospital was established in the former Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital to provide for the needs of servicewomen. The nearby 113 Australian General Hospital dealt with surgical cases while the Women’s Hospital provided for patients recovering from illnesses contracted while on active service, such as malaria.

Later in the same year a Red Cross recreation centre was opened for patients. It provided a space for women to recuperate and included a craft room where they could engage in handicrafts to pass the time. The City of Canada Bay Museum has a small but fascinating collection of some of the handicrafts produced by the servicewomen. One of the most striking items is an embroidered dress and coat made of hessian.

The 3rd Women’s Hospital closed in May 1946.

Matthew Fairless drinking fountain

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The Matthew Fairless drinking fountain is a dominant feature of Warbrick Park at Concord West. The simple inscription on the fountain reads,’1932. Bequeathed by Matthew Fairless, late of Concord West.’

Matthew Fairless lived and worked on the Yaralla Estate where he was the Herdsman. Yaralla had a herd of prize winning Jersey cows which had been built up through selective imports from Britain in the early 1900s. His wife Fanny also worked at Yaralla as the Head Housekeeper. Matthew Fairless died on the 22 November 1931, aged 63 years.

The photograph is from an album, ‘Concord Plaques and Public Places’, compiled by Marge and Tom Breaden in 1999 and donated to Local Studies last year by their son. The photographs are being digitised and added to ‘Canada Bay Connections’.