Whittlesea Township Local History Walk

57-61 Laurel Street, Whittlesea

Whittlesea Township Local History Walk

57-61 Laurel Street, Whittlesea

Staff Pick
41 m
2.7 km
Easy

A short flat circular walk in a part of the historical, rural township of Whittlesea, featuring historical and culturally significant places. An ideal walk with children.

Whittlesea Township Local History Walk

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Summary

A short flat circular walk in a part of the historical, rural township of Whittlesea, featuring historical and culturally significant places. An ideal walk with children.

Description

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This short flat circular walk, with an option to extend, takes in parts of the historical, rural township of Whittlesea, in the northern metropolitan fringe of metropolitan Melbourne.

Historical and culturally significant sites are within easy reach. Start your local history walk and loop some of these sites from Whittlesea Community Activity Centre and Library.

The Wurundjeri Willum people have had a strong connection to this land for over 60,000 years. In the past they would travel the area in search of resources, fresh water, food and shelter; the Plenty River and many creeks offering various types of fish and birdlife. They held cultural ceremonies and conducted business and trade negotiations at sacred sites.

Whittlesea is believed to be named after the town of Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire England. Our Whittlesea was once described as a “Country village planted off the Main Road”.

Early Whittlesea developed around the Plenty River in the 1830s and thrived after the construction of the nearby Yan Yean Reservoir. The construction of the Toorourrong Reservoir and associated aqueducts was completed in 1885. The Shire of Whittlesea was established in 1875 with the first meeting taking place in the Whittlesea Courthouse.

Whittlesea Park is made up of several reserves which once contained a golf course and swimming pool (before the existing one was built). It was the location of the Whittlesea Agricultural Society’s annual show from 1861 to 1904, after which the Show was moved to the site on Yea Road. The Show is one of the oldest in Victoria.

Dairy and cattle farming operated in the area. Before the availability of refrigeration, the district’s proximity to Melbourne meant that milk could be supplied quickly.

Timber logging was carried out in the Mt Disappointment area from the 1850s and several sawmills operated in the district.

We encourage families to take the walk with the option to keep it short by heading back to the library along Forest Street after the Memorial Arch. Or continue towards Beech Street, pick up a coffee or ice-cream at the Service Station at the corner and continue up Beech Street.

A further option to extend is to turn right at the Soldiers Memorial (rather than left back to the library) and head up to the Anglican Church, Primary School and other sites in and around Plenty Road (information not included here).

Public toilets available at Whittlesesa Community Activity Centre and corner of Lime Street and Church Street.

Some of the information for this walk was sourced from Whittlesea Township Heritage Walk by Angela Roper, Whittlesea Historical Society, (2015) and other sources. Photographs: YPRL collection

Want more? Visit the City of Whittlesea Sites of Significance Map which lists 50 historically important sites.

Presented by Yarra Plenty Regional Library.

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Points of Interest

1. Whittlesea Community Activity Centre and Library (2015)

The library is a branch of Yarra Plenty Regional Library. Join today! If you can peek inside, several honour boards and war service certificates are scattered throughout the building.

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2. Lyndoch Park Homestead (1852)

Built by the district's first white settler, George Sherwin, from about 1852. Prominant in local affairs, George and Mary Sherwin had 14 children. There are stories that the house is haunted!

3. C. McDonald Reserve

Over to your right is the Plenty River and Bruces Creek. Once a major waterway, the Plenty attracted the Indigenous population and settlers alike. Near the off the leash Dog Park is a playground.

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4. George Sherwin Bandstand (2001)

Look for the 2001 plaque installed on the dedication of this musical bandstand and park shelter to honour Whittlesesa pioneer George Sherwin who was involved in many community activities.

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5. Whittlesea Memorial Arch (rear of Park at end of Walnut St.), (1927)

Unveiled in 1927, the names of 36 local soldiers who died in WW1 appear on the two pillars supporting the arch. Other names and events have been added since. Option to return to start via Forest St.

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6. Uniting Church (26 Forest St.) (1870)

Bricks for this Church were hand made on the church reserve near the building. It opened in February 1870 and seats 200 people. It is also a base for Foodshare who direct food to people in need.

7. New Horizons Church (Mechanics Institute) (1884)

Site of the first library in Whittlesea (for adult subscribers only!) Built from red bricks constructed from local clay, it opened in 1884. Later used as a Picture Theatre. Continue left into Beech

8. Royal Mail Hotel (1937)

After a disastrous fire, this building was re-built with some of the same bricks and was re-positioned to face the main road to Kinglake in 1937. First building to be connected to electricity.

9. Masonic Temple (1934)

Across the road is the Freemasons hall which opened in 1934. The Whittlesea Men's group is over 100 years old. They have donated funds to bush fire appeals & defibrillators to local organisations.

10. Information Centre / Former Whittlesea Courthouse (1864)

This building is over 150 years old! Constructed from bluestone, hand-made bricks from local clay with Baltic pine floors. Used as a Petty Sessions Court till 1989. Visit the heritage display inside.

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11. Lock Up (1859)

This building began as an early form of flat pack construction with thick wooden timber mounted on a cast-iron frame, bound together with holding rods. Commonly used as a temporary holding cell.

12. Whittlesea House (Corner Beech and Church St) (1866)

Cross the road. First built as the Prince of Wales Hotel. Look up and see the crest on the wall. Later the Whittlesea Coffee Palace, a popular meeting place for the community, now office space.

13. Whittlesea Bakehouse

Continue down Church St. Custard, icing and pastry makes for an award- winning vanilla slice at Whittlesea Bakehouse (2020-2021). In 2022, the bakers won “Best Plain Pie in Australia”.

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14. Avenue of Honour Memorial Trees

Located along Church & Lime Streets are rows of hybrid Plane and Silky Oak trees along with name plates dedicated to fallen local WW1 and WW2 soldiers.

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15. Former Whittlesea Post Office (ca 1926)

Jack Gibbs was Postmaster and built this building about 1926. He was Postmaster till 1960. Gwenda and Ross White bought the PO in 1970 and operated it until 2018. Look for the well-worn step.

16. Soldier Monument (1926)

Built as a memorial to the Whittlesea Shire soldiers of WW1, names of all the men from the district who served (including those that survived) are listed. Names from other wars were added in the '90s

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17. Railway Station and Railway Line

Near here was the old Whittlesea Railway Station. The railway was extended and opened n 1889. Passenger and freight services operated until it closed in 1959. The tracks were removed in the 1970s.

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18. Whittlesea Secondary College (1977)

With its roots as a Technical College, the College has developed a Trade Centre on site for students who wish to study automotive, engineering, building or construction courses.

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19. Whittlesea Community Garden (2010)

Established after the 2009 bushfires, the garden has been part of the community's recovery. It features garden beds for lease, shared garden beds, a community space, art displays & programs.

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Features

Playground Playground
Public toilets Public toilets
Pram friendly Pram friendly
Historical interest Historical interest
Local treasures Local treasures
Park / Garden Park / Garden