Postcards to my grandmother
Home; NSWVictoriaWASAQLDSouth AfricaUK
Hospitals around Sydney        The Sydney Hospital - Macquarie Street        St Vincents Hospital - Darlinghurst        The Walker Hospital - Parramatta River
Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital is the oldest hospital in Australia, dating back to 1788 and at the Macquarie Street site since 1811. Moving to the present site in 1811, Governor Macquarie's 'Rum Hospital' comprised three main buildings fronting Macquarie Street. The hospital now stands on the site of the Central Pavillion, the original North Wing is now Parliament House, while the South Wing became the Colonial Mint and in turn, the Mint Museum. The majority of the Hospital's buildings were opened in 1894. The Sydney Hospital site was also home to the first nursing school in Australia, founded by Lucy Osburn, who was sent to the colony by Florence Nightingale following a request by the colonial government.
St Vincents Hospital was originally established in 1857 by five Irish Sisters of Charity, who had migrated to Sydney in 1838 with a mission to help the poor and disadvantaged. Some of their early work included helping victims of the 1844 influenza outbreak, and prisoners and their families of the nearby Darlinghurst Gaol. Three of the hospital's founding sisters had trained as professional nurses in France, and they brought their knowledge to the colony, establishing a hospital that was free to all people, but especially for the poor. The original site for the hospital was in the neighbouring suburb of Potts Point. As demand grew, the establishment was moved to its present location in Darlinghurst in 1870. The hospital celebrated its 150th birthday in 2007. The original building is still in use and has been extended upwards with a third floor
The Walker Hospital is a red brick building on the southern bank of the Parramatta River.  It is now the Rivendell Adolescent Unit (originally the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital). Thomas Walker was born at Leith, Scotland, in 1804, and came to Sydney as a young man.  About the year 1822 he joined the firm of W. Walker and Company, general merchants, the senior partner of which was his uncle. Some years later he acquired this business in partnership with a cousin, and carried it on successfully. He was made a magistrate in 1835, in 1837 visited Port Phillip, and in 1838 published anonymously an account of his experiences under the title, A Month in the Bush of Australia.    Walker was a conscientious, benevolent man who went about doing good. He took a personal interest in his benefactions, and at one period employed an agent, searching out and relieving cases of distress. In 1882, just before taking a trip to Europe, he distributed £10,000 among benevolent institutions, and under his will £100,000 was set aside to found the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital. In its first 20 years nearly 18,000 convalescent patients, all non-paying, received the benefit of this hospital. In the early 1900s, author Henry Lawson was several times a patient there, treated for his alcoholism. The hospital was exclusively for patients who were convalescing and in need of rest, fresh air and peaceful surroundings. Patients were referred by many Sydney hospitals including St Vincents, Royal Prince Alfred and Sydney Hospitals. Most patients stayed for up to four weeks and running costs were met from interest on part of Thomas Walker's endowment.  The Dutch Water Gate (or boathouse) which is a well-known landmark on the river's edge was the first building entered by many who arrived by ferry from Sydney and contained a waiting room and a smoking lounge. Until 1979 the hospital was administered by the Perpetual Trustee Company but it was evident that funds were dwindling and provision of a free convalescent hospital was no longer feasible. The hospital was transferred to the NSW Health Department and now houses the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Unit - a centre for the care and treatment of emotionally disturbed adolescents. It caters for inpatients (as well as outpatients) on a weekday basis many of whom attend the Rivendell School for Specific Purposes run by the NSW Department of Education and Training. The school is housed in the east wing of the building whilst the west wing is used as a residential unit.