Medical Women's Historical Tour of Melbourne

Melbourne City

Medical Women's Historical Tour of Melbourne

Melbourne City

1 h 28 m
5.87 km

Follow in the footsteps of our trailblazing medical women of the past. This guide will introduce you to some of the women who lived and worked here and how they have shaped society as we know it.

Medical Women's Historical Tour of Melbourne

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Follow in the footsteps of our trailblazing medical women of the past. This guide will introduce you to some of the women who lived and worked here and how they have shaped society as we know it.


A pivotal character in this walk is Dr Constance Stone - Australia's first female registered medical practitioner. In the late 1800's it was forbidden for women to study medicine in Australia, and Constance had to fight alongside a handful of other pioneering women to secure their medical education abroad. Even when Constance had become an experienced and qualified medical practitioner overseas, she struggled to have her professional status recognised back in Australia - not because her credentials were not transferable, but because she was a woman.

Along with the first Australian cohort of female medical students who commenced studies in 1887, Constance Stone founded the Victorian Medical Women's Society (VMWS) in 1896. The society was formed with the chief object of ‘effecting a closer relationship between medical women graduates and undergraduates and to advance the knowledge to further their interests generally’. At a meeting held at Constance's home in September 1896, the women doctors decided to set up a hospital of their own: their vision, and its subsequent achievement, was attributed by the others to Constance’s inspired leadership. It was their joint vision that saw the development of a hospital run by women, to serve the needs of women in the community. The VMWS then, and remains, a strong advocate for the wellbeing of women in the community and for women in the field of medical practice.

Constance Stone and the VMWS were involved with Vida Goldstein and Annie Bear-Crawford of the Women's Suffrage movement of the late 1800's. The relationship between the Women’s Suffrage movement (enabling women to vote), the VMWS, and the Temperance movement was an important one. They shared the view that women and children suffered because of inequality (cf males) on many levels - in working rights and pay, living conditions, access to education, birth & venereal disease control, and health literacy. It was felt that some of this inequality and suffering could be alleviated if women had a voice in the way society was run…which the ability to vote would enable. Politics and the wellbeing of women and children are inextricably linked. It took amazing strength and foresight amongst a cohesive allegiance of women (and some supportive men) here in Melbourne in the late 1800’s to see this link and bring about significant social change that we continue to strive for today.

Many thanks to the Women's Tour of Melbourne by 'happyfeet' on Walking Maps. Also: *Healy J, Alexander E, Best JD, Gunn J, University of Melbourne. Medical History Museum (2013) Strength of mind :125 years of women in medicine. *McRae H (2015) Dinner With the Devil - Women and Melbourne's Queen Vic: Their Pride and Shame, Joy and Sorrow. *Murnane M (2015) Honourable healers : pioneering women doctors.* Sheard H (2016) A Heart Undivided, The life of Dr Vera Scantlebury Brown * Sheard H, Lee R (2019) Women to the Front.

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Points of Interest

1. The Victorian Medical Women's Society. Est 1895/1896. Early members included:

Mary Stone, Gertrude Halley, Lilian Alexander, Amy Castilla, Grace Vale, Helen Sexton,Janet &Jane Greig, Bertha Main,Freda Gamble, Elizabeth&Annie O'Hara, Clara Stone, Margaret Whyte,Constance Stone

2. Parliament House, Spring St, Built 1855-1929

Port Philip was settled in 1835. Parliament House was built in the gold rush and wool boom of 1850s along with the GPO, The Royal Exhibition Building, State Library, Melbourne baths, trams, and rail.

3. Vida Goldstein (1869-1949) Plaque, Parliament House Gardens

Victoria was last sate to grant women suffrage in 1908. Goldstein was a pioneer suffragist , social reformer and first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to national parliament.

4. Vida Goldstein [continued]

During WWI she advocated for disarmament, became chairperson of the Peace Alliance and formed the Women’s Peace Army.

5. Vida Goldstein [continued]

Vida devoted her life to the pursuit of better living standards for all citizens and fought specifically for women’s rights and suffrage, for social justice, and against racism.

6. Annette 'Annie' Bear-Crawford (1853–1899)

Vida Goldstein and Annie Bear-Crawford were great friends of Constance Stone and the VMWS – mutually supporting each other in their collective struggle for women’s rights.

7. Annie Bear-Crawford [continued]

Annie arranged the shilling appeal that Constance, Clara, and Mary Stone used to purchase property to move the first women’s hospital run by women out of a church hall to a larger residence-the QVH.

8. Windsor Hotel (formerly the Grand Hotel), 111 Spring St, Built 1883 – 1923

VMWS functions held here on many occasions in the 1900’s – entertaining visiting doctors from overseas, and giving lectures on women’s health, children’s health, and venereal disease.

9. The Great Petition, Burston Reserve, Sculpture by Penelope Lee and Susan Hewitt, 2008

Signed petition for the right for women to vote -30000 signatures offered to the Vic Parliament in 1891 as evidence of widespread support for women’s right to vote. VIC was last to grant the vote-1903

10. Tasma Terrace , 2-12 Parliament Place, saved from demolition by National Trust

The terrace is the headquarters of the National Trust. It was once boarding houses from the 1870s. Managing a boarding house was one of the few employment options available to early women .

11. Collins Street view - late 1800’s. Display board next to Portland House

This Eastern end of Collins, near Spring St was largely a residential area for doctors and lawyers with quite a few medical practices in the stretch as well. Constance had her private practice nearby.

12. Portland House, 8-10 Collins Street, Built 1872, designed by Lloyd Taylor.

Built by Henry 'Money' Miller for his daughter, Jane, and son-in-law Dr. Aubrey Bowen (eminent ophthalmologist and founder of the Eye&Ear Hospital), as a townhouse and surgery.

13. WCTU Rooms, 15 Collins St (since demolished)

The Women's Christian Temperance Union was the largest and most influential of the various women's organisations in Victoria in the late 1890s

14. Constance Stone’s Consulting Room, 16 Collins St, since demolished

Rebuilt in 1912 for Andrew Stenhouse by Bates Peebles and Smart. Constance commenced her practice here in 1890.

15. The Lyceum Club , 9 Ridgeway Place, Est 1912

A famous professional women's club that provides an arena in which professional women can form strong networks. Some founding members were also in VMWS,Drs JL Greig, C Ellis, J Greig. VMWS meet 2mthly

16. Melville House, 52-54 Collins St, Façade built 1881

Alterations to an existing building were designed by Billing & Son architects for the owner Dr Ray. One of the few surviving 19th C residences in the city.

17. Former House & Surgery, 68 - 70 Collins St, Built 1867

Built for surgeon John Wilkins – owned and occupied by medical professionals until 1911

18. 72-74 Collins St, originally built in 1850

Frequently occupied by medical practitioners. Rebuilt and occupied by dentists in 1888/1905

19. Harley House , Corner of Collins & Exhibition St, Built 1923, by Sydney Smith, Ogg and Serpell

The National Council of Women, based here for 2 decades effectively lobbied for legislation and representation on all boards and committees relating women and children's welfare and legal rights.

20. Nauru House, 80 Collins St, Built 1977

Built as an investment by the Nauru Government, it was taken over by receivers in 2004 after a financial crisis. The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was located here 1979 - 2006

21. The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission

Women campaigners for equal pay re-enacted the 1969 chain up demonstration here,1985.By the 1960s, the matter of equal pay for women was high on the agenda. The post-war boom saw many women enter work

22. The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission [continued]

In the first federal equal pay test case, the ACTU successfully tackled the law, which allowed Australian employers to pay working women a minimum rate 25% lower than that of male employees.

23. Former Medical Rooms, 84 Collins St, Built1888

Practice rooms of Dr R Youl. 1905, and Dr R Adam.

24. Former Medical Rooms, 86-88 Collins St, Built 1873

Owned and built for Dr Robert Martin by James Gall.

25. Constance Stone consulting rooms, 1898, 109 Collins St

109/111/113 Collins St was owned by Dr Robert Martin, and bequeathed to Lucy Martin. Possibly passed to her Youl granddaughters whose father was Dr Richard Youl. In 1888 Francis & Co, Chemist.

26. Janet 'Jenny' Lindsay Greig (1874 - 1950), Private Medical Practice. 120 Collins St

Along with her sister Dr Jane 'Jean' Stock Greig, were foundational members of the VMWS. She also worked at the Vic Hospital, as a WWI medic/surgeon, and was Victoria's first female anaesthetist.

27. Milton House, 21-25 Flinders Lane, Built 1901 by Sydney Smith & Ogg

Built as a private hospital in 1901 for the eminent Melbourne surgeon, William Moore, who was the first master of surgery graduate of the University of Melbourne. The federal government set up a free

28. Former women's buildings , 28 Russell St (since demolished)

The city meeting place for many women's reformist groups. WCTU's first headquarters at 28 Russell St was where girls from nearby workrooms could get cheap good meals

29. Former women's buildings , 28 Russell St - current site

Current site

30. Former site The Australia Church, 19 Russell St

The WTCU and medical women met often at The Australia Church to have their meetings about social issues.

31. Australia Church [continued]

The Australia Church established by Dr Charles Strong who because of his intellectual and liberal views had resigned as minister of the Scots Church.

32. Australia Church [continued]

Services began in 1885 at the Temperance Hall (107 Russell St) and later at the Anthenauem.

33. Australia Church [continued]

The Australia Church moved to its official church at the eastern end of Flinders St, near Spring St (demolished in 1988) in 1887 – built by William Salway.

34. Australia Church Pipe Organ [continued]

In 1887 the church’s first pipe organ was installed and was later sold to St John’s Anglican Church, East Malvern in 1889. Fincham & Hobday installed a new organ - the largest in C19th

35. Australia Church [continued] 19 Russell St 1922-1957.

With declining membership and debt from the building of the church in Flinders St, the church+organ moved to 19 Russell Street, adjacent to the State Theatre and across from WTCU until 1957.

36. Australia Church [continued]

The organ was moved to the current Wilson Hall, The University of Melbourne which was rebuilt in 1957 after the original Wilson Hall was burnt

37. Scots Presbyterian Church , Cr Russell and Collins St, Built 1841

Dame Nellie Melba sang in the church choir as a child. Her funeral service was held here. Dame Melba’s father David Mitchell(Scotland) helped to construct the Church and also the Exhibition Blgs

38. Assembly Hall - Scots Church, 156 -160 Collins St, Built 1914, Designed by Henry H. Kemp, built by S

Many groups, including the Women’s Parliament met here in the late 1800s-1900s to discuss social issues such as workers’ rights, minimum wages, 1/2 day Saturday ,8 hr working day, and women’s Suffrage

39. The Anthenaeum , 188 Collins St, Built 1842, Originally called the Melbourne Mechanics' Institute. I

The first President was Cpt William Lonsdale, the first Patron was Charles La Trobe and the first books donated by Henry Fyshe Gisborne. The Melbourne City Council met in the building until 1852.

40. The Anthenaeum [continued], Its name changed to the Melbourne Athenaeum in 1872.

The focal point was the library and museum/gallery, where McCubbin’s first exhibition was held in1904. Also exhibited works by Bunny, Heysen, Namatjira, Roberts, Rowell, Stokes and Streeton.

41. The Anthenaeum [continued]

The gallery also hosted talks by the Melbourne Society of Women Painters, including one in 1935 at which Mary Cecil Allen spoke. The first movie shown in Australia was here in 1896.

42. The Anthenaeum [continued] - closed in 1971

The Australia Church began services in 1885 at the Temperance Hall and later at the Anthenauem. The WTCU and medical women met often at The Australia Church to have their meetings about social issues.

43. Alexandra Club, Cr Collins and Russell Streets, Built 1886, designed by William Salway for surgeon

This building later became the premises of the Alexandra Club (previously the Wattle Club at 145 Collins, then Cr Collins and Swanston, Metro Gas Bdg Flinders St, 139 Collins, then 81 Collins.

44. Alexandra Club [continued]

Founded in 1903, one of Australia's longest established and exclusive clubs for women. Members include Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, community worker and women's rights activist Beryl Beaurepaire.

45. Former underground women's toilet , Cr Russell Bourke St, Sculpture ‘A History Apparatus’ by Chris R

Built in 1902, this was the first such toilet built as a result of the lobbying by many women, including members of the Women’s Political and Social Crusade. It is now under the sculpture at the site.

46. Sutcliffe's Pharmacy, 171 Bourke Street , Built 1868

Until recently this building was a pharmacy from 1868.

47. Temperance Hall, 170 Russell St (demolished)

As you continue towards Lonsdale St, you’ll pass 170 Russell St, the site of Temperance Hall where many public political meetings, took place and where the Australia Church had its first services.

48. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Cr Lonsdale St and Waratah Place, Est 1915

In 1915 the Melbourne Hospital’s opened a pathology department and what would later become The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, which overlooked Lonsdale Street.

49. Melbourne General Hospital (former), Cr Swanston St and Lonsdale St, Est 1848

The Melbourne General Hospital opened in 1848 after a public campaign and fundraising. It was the only general public hospital in Melbourne for 23 years.

50. Melbourne General Hospital (former) [continued]

The Lying-In Hospital for Women and Children was established in 1856, (for women and young children only – but staffed only by male doctors).

51. Melbourne General Hospital [continued]

Originally a 10-bed, 2-storey cottage on the cr of Lonsdale and Swanston Sts in 1848, the Melbourne General Hospital was soon unable to meet the demands of increasing population.

52. Melbourne General Hospital [continued]

In 1907 the hospital expanded and was then completely rebuilt on the same site in 1913. It moved to its present location in Royal Parade, Parkville in 1944. The Queen Vic moved to this premises 1946

53. Queen Victoria Hospital. Est at the Welsh Church Hall 1896, then Governess’s Institute (Mint Place)

In 1896 A radical venture of the 11 female founding Drs that formed the VMWS established what would later become the Victoria Hospital for Women and Children, the 'Queen Vic'.

54. QVH [continued]For many years this was one of only 3 hospitals worldwide of its kind

Opening as a clinic in the hall of St David's Welsh Church, La Trobe St, it aimed to become a hospital 'For Women, By Women', serving poor women who were uncomfortable about having to see a male Dr.

55. QVH [continued]

In 1897, during the depression an appeal from Vida Goldstein, Annie Bear-Crawford and VMWS, a statewide ‘Shilling Fund’ campaign was instigated to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee,

56. QVH [continued]

Every woman in Victoria was asked to donate one shilling towards the new hospital. 3162 pounds was raised for the purchase of the old Governess Institute in Mint Place.

57. QVH [continued]

This was opened in 1899, and the Queen Vic remained there until the 1946. The hospital buildings of the Melbourne General Hospital at Lonsdale Street would be permanently reserved for the ‘Queen Vic’

58. QVH [continued]

In 1965 it became the Monash University's teaching hospital for O&G and paediatrics. QVH changed from being 'For Women, By Women' to a 'Family Hospital', treating male patients with male staff

59. In 1977 the QVH amalgamated with McCulloch House,Caulfield and renamed the Queen Victoria Medical Ce

10 yrs later it moved to Clayton to merge with the Moorabbin Hospital and, in 1991, Prince Henry's Hospital to form the Monash Medical Centre.

60. The Lonsdale St Tower, E Block, Built 1910, Designed by JJ and EJ Clark.

The ward blocks incorporate wrought-iron balconies, which were once occupied by patients' beds and hence still demonstrate the turn-of-the-century interest in fresh air as a healing agent.

61. The Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, 210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000 Est 2004

Remaining building from the QVH rescued from demolition for new QV high-rise complex. Now a state-run space for women’s community group meetings.

62. Storey Hall ,344-46 Swanston St, Built 1887. Once owned by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, then RMI

Adorned with purple and green Penrose tiles and ruffles, keys and suspender belts to represent the Suffragettes, including the Women's Peace Army (assoc with Vida Goldstein), who would meet here.

63. Women's Venereal Disease Clinic, 372 - 378 Little Lonsdale St

1880 Panorama - single storey building (Forensic Medicine Unit/Former TB Clinic); 1905 - 2 storey building: 'Septic Clinic for Women'

64. Women's Venereal Disease Clinic [continued]

VD Clinic for Women established in WWI to meet the growing demand for sexual health centres.

65. Edith Barrett (1872–1939)

Founded the Bush Nursing Assoc of Victoria in 1910. Also active with the Australian Red Cross, the National Council of Women, the VMWS, and the QVH; she received the OBE/CBE for WWI VD work

66. Former Jessie Macpherson Women’s Hospital, Mint Place, Est 1930, now demolished

Sir McPherson donated £25,000 to the QVH to build the first community hospital in memory of his mother, Mrs Jessie McPherson. Moved to the QVH at Lonsdale St 1958, then Clayton in 1987, now w Monash

67. Jessie Macpherson [continued]

Community hospitals catered for patients unwilling or unable to pay private hospital fees, but not poor enough to receive charity. This would enable public hospitals to provide more beds for the poor.

68. Mint Place, portion of Little Lonsdale Street located between William and Queen streets.

The Melbourne Home and Governesses' Institute, as well as the registrar of births and deaths, were also located in the place in the late 1800s. In 1910, the QVH bought the Governesses’ Institute

69. The Former Royal Mint building, 280-318 William St was located in Mint Place, Built 1869-72.

After the Sydney Mint closed in 1926, the Melbourne Royal Mint was the only mint left in Australia still in operation until it too closed in 1968. It is now the Helenic Museum.

70. The Governesses’ Institute and Melbourne Home, Est 1863 , now demolished.

Accommodating and training governesses, shop women, needlewomen and servants and to provide a central employment registry in a self-supporting institution. It closed in 1936.

71. Welsh Church, 320 Latrobe St, Built 1871 by Charles Web

Constance, Clara, and Mary Stone opened an outpatients’ clinic at St David’s Hall, and dispensary via a discrete window(now cleaning cupboard) with the support of Constance’s husband Rvd Dr Jones

72. St David's Hall - former outpatient clinic at precursor 'QVH'

It was here that Constance, Mary, and Clara Stone established the medical centre for women. With the shilling funds raised it moved across to Mint Place, then Lonsdale St(Melb General Hospital site)

73. Royal Australian College of Surgeons 250 -290 Spring St, Originally built 1854, designed by Arthur E

1937 The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons building is located on a triangular area of land reserved for the National School Board in 1852.

74. Providence Centre/Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre, 362 Albert St, East Melbourne, Built 1901

In the 1890s, Archbishop Thomas Carr requested St Mary MacKillop (Australia’s first saint) to establish a place close to the city to provide emergency accommodation for women and children

75. Providence [continued]

Mother Mary took to the streets to raise funds for the project. Within 10 years, Mary, the ‘beggar-in-chief’, and her sisters raised enough funds to buy land and build a home, ‘Red House'

76. Providence [continued]

As the Providence expanded, the sisters purchased the adjoining townhouse in 1920, which housed girls from the country. Both buildings are now heritage listed +museum.

77. ‘Her Place’ Women’s Museum Australia Clarendon Terrace, 210 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

by appointment only at present

78. Constance Stone’s Residence, 179 Gipps St, East Melbourne, Built 1861 by S. Ward for Mr Greenwood. F

The House was sold to the Rev. David Nimmo in 1869, and his daughter who bought a ladies a school and shifted it to 179 and called it 'Ladies College, Ormiston House'.

79. Constance Stone’s Residence [continued]

In 1871 Nimmo sold to Robert Ramsay who authorised the train load of police who went to Glenrowan after Ned Kelly and was also previously VP of the Board of the Melbourne Hospital.

80. Constance Stone’s Residence [continued]

Robert Ramsay died in 1882, sometime aftwards the house would have been bought by Egryn Jones (and Constance Stone).

81. Singleton Medical Centre, 162 Wellington St, Collingwood, Est 1869. John Singleton (1808–1891).

In early 1869 he established the Collingwood Free Medical Dispensary. The dispensary gave free attention to the poor and provided spiritual guidance. Constance Stone practiced one day a week here.

82. Women’s Health Collective, 85 Johnson St, Collingwood, Est 1974

A free healthcare service set up for women in Collingwood with 4 doctors, 3 nurses a dietician, and naturopath.

83. Women’s Health Collective [continued]

Uni of Melb did all microbiology/pap tests free of charge. Unfortunately it was forced to close when its $178 000 granted could not be awarded as its governance and services were not available to men

84. Dr Janet Grieg’s Private Practice, 33 Brunswick St, Est 1897

One of the early members of the VMWS in the late 1800s.

85. Mary Glowrey Museum, Australian Catholic University, 20 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Mary Glowrey – the first Doctor/Sister of the Catholic Church. Best known for her medical missionary work with women and children in Guntur, India for over 37 years

86. Medical History Museum

For opening hours: Ph: +61 3 8344 9935

87. Wheel of Life Sculpture Entrance to current Medical Building Grattan St, By Charles Web Gilbert

Donated to the university as a memorial to Lilian Alexander (one of the first female medical students in 1893) by her nephews.

88. Elizabeth Murdoch Building

Second of the medical buildings with many early photos taken out by the front façade

89. Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre 52-112 Keppel St, 455-495 Cardigan St, 960 Swanston

The Carlton Refuge (Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre) was established at Carlton in 1861 as a reformatory for young single women who had engaged in prostitution.

90. Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre [continued]

It gradually expanded its operations to include care for neglected children, training for mothercraft and infant welfare nurses, residential care for unmarried mothers and their babies.

91. Former Children's Hospital/St Nicholas School cr Pelham & Drummond St, Carlton, Built 1907, by Will

Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children was opened by Drs William Smith and John Singleton in 1870 at 39 Stephen St (now 49 Exhibition St), then 13 Spring St, then judge Redmond Barry's house 1876.

92. Constance Stone's grave, Boroondarra General Cemetery, Kew

Constance Stone's grave site.