Monday, 4 May 2009

Yaralla House, the Walker Estate, Concord West

Today the start of a series of photos based around the inner-west suburbs of Concord West and Cabarita. To begin with, a journey to another time.

The Yaralla Estate occupied significant amount of land on the southern side of the Parramatta River at Concord West. It started with a grant to an ex-convict then developed as a working farm, continued as a Victorian estate, early twentieth century Edwardian estate, to recent use as part of a hospital. It is historically significant as one of the last large nineteenth century estates remaining in metropolitan Sydney. It is of rare State significance because it incorporates an entire 1790s land grant within its boundaries.

I was astounded when I drove in here to find a parkland and farm-like estate right in the midst of suburban Sydney, which is getting more built up and densely populated by the minute.

We'll have a look at a couple of aspects of the estate in the next few days.

The land was originally granted, in 1797, to Isaac Nichols, a convict-turned-businessman, who became the colony’s first postmaster. He established extensive orchards and vegetable gardens which supplied fruit and other produce to the colony.

Thomas Walker, an important nineteenth century merchant and philanthropist obtained a mortgage on the estate in about 1840. His daugther, Eadith, noted for her philanthropic activities in the early twentieth century lived there until her death in 1937. The house played an important part in social and cultural life in the early twentieth century.

Yaralla House represents the work of two of Australia’s major nineteenth century architects, Edmund Blacket and John Sulman.

In the 1860s Thomas Walker commissioned Edmund Blacket to design a "cottage" on the low rise adjacent to the Parramatta River. Eadith made extensive alterations in 1893-99, using the services of architect and relative-by-marriage, John Sulman. Sulman also designed several of the outbuildings, particularly the stables complex and the dairy building.

Following Dame Eadith Walker’s death the land comprising the Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospital (Yaralla Estate) became vested in the Crown under the Walker Trusts Act 1938. This Act gives the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (now Central Sydney Area Health Service) responsibility for the control, management and administration of the Hospital. Until June 2008 it was used as a dialysis unit. I don;t think it is currently being used, and its future remains unknown.

It is the largest community bequest of its era to survive in an intact form in New South Wales.

The significance of the estate has been recognised by the making of a Permanent Conservation Order under the N.S.W. Heritage Act. The estate is listed on the Register of the National Estates, classified by The National Trust of Australia (NSW) and is also listed as an item of Environmental Heritage by the Concord Municipal Council.

Information from Concord Heritage Society, Walker Estates Sub-Committee


  1. Interesting, informative. A small exhibition about properties and gardens such as this, in Sydney, was seen several months ago and got me interested in getting on the trail.

  2. Fascinating. It would be criminal to lose a place like that to developers.

  3. Such a beautiful place. It is good that it has been kept up and maintained and may it ever be so!

  4. This is a terrific post, Sal. I love the history of Sydney.

    This is just along from the Repat Hospital if I am right. I took my Dad out one day (to take the punt, actually) and we stumbled on this estate and all the horses on agistment in one of its front paddocks.

    I went on a walking tour of Randwick yesterday and Blackett and Sulman (of art prize fame) were instrumental in that suburb too.

    Really looking forward to your posts this week.

  5. this is a beautiful estate. I too enjoy finding the unexpected surprise.

  6. It's wonderful to see green places in the middle of cities. Somehow in my imagination I never think of Sidney as having such grandiose buildings...except for the famous one of course-the one that seems to always be in Sidney photos. ;-)

  7. Quite interesting Sally. This is one place in Sydney that I have never visited but have wanted to.
    Sydney - City and Suburbs

  8. A little piece of the country in the city ... magic... don't ever let it be given over to developers

  9. my family and i go there almost very other love it and call it the country side...Concords best kept secret