Category: News & Events

Dr Daniel Kahans- Psychiatrist and Musical Therapist at Larundel

Kahans Close is a small street in the Gresswell Grange Estate in Bundoora. It is named after Dr Daniel Kahans who worked at Larundel in the 1960s and 1970s. He was one of the more colourful psychiatrists and a performing musician around Melbourne.
Daniel was born in Shanghai in China in 1934 and his parents migrated to Australia in 1947 to NSW. His grandparents lived in Shanghai as well, and his Russian grandmother is described in his cello and spoken performance piece ‘Shanghai Rickshaw’ from La Mama Theatre in 2010, see
Daniel Kahans from Youtube – filmed by Aaron Claringbold
As a child in NSW Daniel studied cello with the famous British cellist William Ewart (Gladstone) Bell. He also studied music with the composer and conductor Sir Eugene Goossens. Daniel graduated in Medicine in 1959 from the University of Sydney and then went to the UK and studied psychiatry in London, graduating in 1966. He had married Jillian Shepherd in Sydney in 1962. She was also an accomplished cellist and became a highly regarded cello teacher in Melbourne. She was also an artist. Daniel and Jill moved back to Australia to Melbourne in 1968 and had four children. They lived at Larundel for many years and then moved to the nearby suburb of Lower Plenty.
Music Therapy at Larundel
Dr Daniel Kahans is famous for introducing music therapy to Larundel Mental Hospital in 1971. Along with Dr Denise Grocke (nee Erdonmez), who had trained in music therapy in the USA, they conducted therapy sessions in many wards, but particularly for patients in Fawkner House. Patients in this ward had intensive group therapy in music, drama and dance which was unique in Victoria. Denise Grocke (now Emeritus Professor Grocke) worked at Larundel for ten years, then set up the first music therapy course at the University of Melbourne in 1978, with the help of Dr Kahans and Dr Percy Jones.
Daniel Kahans also operated a busy private psychiatry practice at Wingrove Cottage in Eltham from 1971 and subsequently published many academic papers on various aspect of mental illness and the role of the psychiatrist and music therapy (for example, see Kahans and Calford, 1982). He classed this work as ‘psycho-aesthetics’, which he defined as the psychology of art forms including music therapy and art therapy. Aspects of the therapy included singing, group improvisation, music and movement, sometimes resulting in a formal group performance. Jane Refshauge amongst others, worked with Dr Kahans in this program, see
Dr Kahans performed many of his original avant-garde musical and spoken word works in Melbourne, including many at La Mama Theatre in Carlton, working with his wife Jill Kahans who performed as both actor and director.
Larundel Hospital and the Arts
Visual and performing arts were encouraged at Larundel with the Occupational Therapists working with art practitioners. Margaret Lasica, a well-regarded ballet performer and teacher, taught dance and movement to patients at Larundel. Margaret Lasica (nee Weiss) had come to Melbourne from Vienna in 1939 and she performed with Melbourne ballet groups such as the Modern Dance Ensemble.
Dr Cunningham Dax fostered the practice of art therapy at Larundel and Mont Park, and art works have been archived in the Dax Collection at the University of Melbourne, see
Many visual art works from the later period of 1987 – 1997 are maintained by the La Trobe University Art Institute at Bendigo, see  In the 1990s practising artists worked with the patients.
The use of music, art and drama therapy in the health sector has expanded since these Larundel days into general hospitals, aged care facilities and palliative care centres.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic Royal Melbourne Hospital music therapists produced popular YouTube videos for their patients and the community see The Royal Melbourne Hospital – Scrub Choir 2.0 sing “I’ll stand by you” by The Pretenders | Facebook
And  ‘We Wish You’ by The RMH Scrub Choir – YouTube
Prepared by Kathy Andrewartha 2020.
Daniel Kahans bio for musical performance in Eltham in 2014 with photograph
History of the Australian Music Therapy Association
Interview with Denise Grocke
Kahans, D. and Calford, M. B. (1982). The influence of music on psychiatric patients’ immediate attitude change toward therapists. Journal of Music Therapy, 19 (3), 179-187.
Musical performance in Sydney at age 17, Daniel Kahans
Performance at La Mama 2010, Daniel Kahans describing a ride with his grandmother/babuska in a ‘Shanghai Rickshaw’ with spoken word and cello
Report of Dance Movement Therapy Conference 2015

Linaker’s Melbourne Gardens

Hugh Linaker (1872-1938) started his gardening work life in Victorian country towns, then moved to Melbourne to the Mont Park Asylum where he was employed as Head Gardener for the Victorian Lunacy Department
For twenty five years he worked there and also around Melbourne, on State government projects in the inner city, and out as far as the Maroondah Reservoir. Old photographs and newspaper records show that he had a great passion for his occupation, and was practical and decisive.
He advised on government projects, lectured to public groups and was a prominent member of the Victorian Tree Planters Association (Paul Fox, 1985 and Julie Mulhauser, 2009). Melbourne city had been designed from its earliest days to feature large parklands around the business district. The need for horticulture expertise was gradually being recognised in the 1920s and 1930s, but decisions about public plantings at the Botanic Gardens and King’s Domain were not without controversy and rivalry.
Linaker had no such rivals in the Asylum landscaping business. Here he worked companionably and successfully with the patients, who were utilized as part of their recuperative therapy.
Hugh had started his work as a gardener in Ballarat and then moved to Ararat for this first work with the Victorian Lunacy Department (1901 – 1911). The Alexandra Gardens in Ararat have a pond and a plaque to commemorate him and his work. The garden design incorporates his signature trees – steeple shaped cypress, tall exotic palms and spreading deciduous trees. Here in Ararat he first supervised hospital patients in his gardening pursuits.
Palm at Ararat – photo courtesy Rebecca Le Get
Mont Park and Larundel
When Linaker moved to Melbourne to landscape the new Mont Park Asylum site in 1912, he lived with his family in what is now called ‘Linaker’s Cottage’, which is near Plenty Road. His wife Harriet assisted on the Curative Training committee of the Red Cross at Mont Park.
At Mont Park near the Farm Workers’ Block built in 1910, Linaker had large ornamental ponds excavated. The ponds were surrounded by wind mill palms which are shown on the cover of the book ‘Glimpses of the Past’. Patients are seen wandering in this peaceful environment where the winds would have rustled through these exquisite palms. He also set up a plant nursery, orchards and vegetable gardens near here. This added to the Asylum farm produce, which was profitably utilized all over Victoria.
In the gardens near the Mont Park Chronic Wards, built in 1916, he created a beautiful landscape with rose bushes and shrubbery planted near the Wards and Nurses’ Home. Oaks, palms, conifers and deciduous trees were added amongst the ancient river red gums. Canary Island palms still feature in the gardens of the Springthorpe Estate homes along Ernest Jones Drive and oaks, cypresses and gums remain in the parklands. See
Gresswell Sanatorium
Old photographs of the Gresswell Sanatorium Hospital site from the 1930s to the 1990s show that it also once had lovely trees and landscaped gardens. These had been partially created by the patients, supervised by Hugh Linaker. This was part of their rehabilitation from tuberculosis (TB).  Recovering patients were supervised in outdoor activities like digging, planting, tending fruit trees and vegetable gardens, feeding the noisy poultry, or concreting the rockeries.
Hugh Linaker presented a comprehensive and bold landscape design to the Mental Health Authority for Gresswell in 1929, before the first buildings were even commenced. He planned for garden beds next to the wards, with dozens of Himalayan cypress trees (Cupressus torulosa) forming a border around the area, and an interesting and varied mix of exotic trees and some 180 eucalypts. As was his usual practice by then, he planned for attractive palm trees to be introduced into the landscape, but photographs show ultimately only one palm tree, prominently featured in the Administration building front lawn.  Various gums, from the pale, smooth trunks of sugar gums, to the dark textured trunks of flowering gums, were planted for their shade and their supposed healing fragrance. A photograph of the entrance to Gresswell Hospital in 1946 shows a vista of an attractive mix of pines, gums and deciduous trees.
Entrance to Gresswell Hospital 1946, with visitors and the Administration buildings in the distance – courtesy of DHHS Victorian Collection
The garden designs incorporated beds of low shrubs near some of the wards, with rock edging and embankments. Birds were apparently abundant in the Gresswell Hospital gardens as evidenced by a patient’s recollection in 1952 of the Medical Officer‘s dedicated photography of them (see Janet Brown, 1994, p. 219)
Gresswell Ward through the trees – photograph courtesy of PROV
Just as at Mont Park, Linaker chose to plant a variety of deciduous trees to vary the views from the wards as the seasons progressed – poplars, elms, ash and plane trees, although none of the resplendent oaks which flourished at Mont Park. The Gresswell gardens did not culminate in the full realisation of Linaker’s plans because the political and economic situation in Melbourne altered so much with the coming of the 1930s Depression and then World War II. Nothing is left of these gardens now on Gresswell Hill.
Gresswell Administration buildings and gardens, photograph courtesy of DHHS Victorian Collection
Maroondah Reservoir Park
At about the same time as he was thinking about the Gresswell Hospital surrounds, Linaker had been designing the Maroondah Reservoir parklands east of Melbourne in 1927 and 1928. Here he achieved a rich and varied forest-like environment, using magnificent trees of every shape, size, colour and texture. He chose eucalypts and conifers such as Himalayan pines and Monterey cypresses, cork oaks and even some massive redwood trees.  This magnificent two hectares (five acres) remains a most appealing tourist and picnic destination.
Maroondah Reservoir wall and trees- photo courtesy Rebecca Le Get 2016
Burnham Beeches, Sherbrooke
Linaker had several other landscaping projects not related to his position with the Mental Health Authority. Along with Percy Trevaskis, he constructed the gardens of Alfred Nicholas’ property ‘Burnham Beeches’ in Sherbrooke.
This was unique as it is one of the few home gardens Linaker helped to create, and it remains as a serene 23 hectare (50 acre) reserve. In the early 1930s he chose rockeries to line the terraced pathways which follow the contour of the land. Conifers of various shapes and colours, and low lying exotic shrubs blend in with majestic mountain ash trees which have stood here for generations. The house and gardens are particularly spectacular in the autumn with the native tree ferns unfurling amongst the other plants.
Tree ferns at Burnham Beeches April 2019 – photo from the author
Melbourne city
Linaker contributed to the Melbourne city King’s Domain and the Shrine of Remembrance horticultural design and construction in the 1930s. His work was not without controversy. The Premier of Victoria Stanley Argyle and Linaker had to defend the designs in public debates with rival landscape specialists.
Edna Walling was not always a fan of Hugh Linaker’s work. At this stage she was designing beautiful home gardens for Melbourne’s wealthier residents including Dame Nellie Melba and Sir Keith Murdoch. She was understandably critical of Linaker being chosen to design the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden in Melbourne. She was, after all, renowned for her water feature schemes and rockeries and probably felt rebuffed in being overlooked for the Women’s Memorial work. Linaker’s design featured a grotto and a sundial surrounded by a balanced variety of gardens of changing colours and heights. This work utilised underemployed men during the 1930s Depression.
Greenery at Women’s Memorial Gardens – photo courtesy of Rebecca Le Get -2013
The decade before Linaker died was a most fruitful period for him and has provided us with a lasting legacy of some superb landscapes. Linaker believed in the health giving value of planted environments for the whole of the community, but had been particularly involved in his working life with producing serene and picturesque locations for those suffering mental and physical ill health and all of the workers who cared for them.
Prepared by Kathy Andrewartha (2020)
With thanks to Rebecca Le Get for resources, help and interest.
Paul Fox (1985) Over the Garden Fence, Historic Environment, 4, No. 3, pp.29 – 36.
Julie Mulhauser (2009) Hugh Linaker, Landscape Gardener to the Lunacy Department. Australian Garden History 20, No. 4 pp. 12 – 20.
Janet M. Brown (1994) In the Company of Strangers: Former patients of Australian Tuberculosis Sanitoria share their experiences and insights, published by the author, Werribee. p.219
Rebecca Le Get (2018) An Environmental History of Tuberculosis Sanatorium Treatment within The River Red Gum Woodlands of Melbourne. Ph D. Thesis, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Men remembered in the Street names of the Victoria Cross Estate Macleod

Near the Macleod station, south of Cherry Street is an interesting housing estate which was sub-divided in 1922. All the streets were named in honour of Australian Victoria Cross recipients, see
If you want to take an historic Walk around this Estate go to 
There have only ever been 100 Victoria Cross (VC) awards for Australia, 64 in WWI and 20 in WWII. It is Australia’s highest military honour.  Nine of the men who received a VC are honoured with streets named after them in this estate. Also situated in this area are the Victoria Cross Reserve and the Bruce Kingsbury Reserve, named after a WWII VC veteran.
The soldiers honoured are: Captain Percy Cherry, Lieutenant William Dunstan, Sergeant John Dwyer, Lieutenant Robert Grieve, Captain Albert Jacka, Lieutenant Colonel William Joynt, Private Ted Kenna (WWII), Air Vice-Marshal Frank McNamara and Second Lieutenant Rusty Ruthven.
Kingsbury Drive constructed in about 1966, to allow access to the new La Trobe University, was named after Bruce Kingsbury VC (WWII).
The Victoria Cross Estate land had been owned since 1903 by Edith (b.1869) and Malcolm Macleod (b.1867, d.1942) and in 1910 the State Government bought the land from them, along with other land to allow access the Mont Park Asylums.
Some information about each of the military men is presented below, with their photographs.
It seems clear that what they witnessed and what they suffered was so appalling
they don’t want to remember it or talk about it.
(Interview with son of William Dunstan VC, Melbourne journalist Keith Dunstan, in 2011)

Captain Percy Herbert Cherry (1895 – 1917) served in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in WWI. Born in Drysdale near Geelong, the family moved to Tasmania when he was seven. In WWI Cherry was awarded a Military Cross for a successful attack he led on March 2 1917 in France, in which he showed ‘gallantry and devotion to duty’. Then he was awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘bravery, determination and leadership’ in a fierce battle on March 17 in which he was killed, aged only 21. Both medals were awarded posthumously to his father in Hobart.

Cherry Street was earlier known as Military Road. It has an Avenue of Honour comprising sugar gum trees planted 100 years ago, by other military veterans recovering at Mont Park Asylum see
Cherry in UK recovering from injuries in 1916 – from AWM

Lieutenant William (Bill) Dunstan (1895 -1957) served in the AIF too. He had been born in Ballarat East and was the father of well-known Melbourne journalist Keith Dunstan. His VC was awarded for ‘most conspicuous bravery’ at Lone Pine Gallipoli on 9 August 1915, when Dunstan was aged only 20.

On his return to Australia, William married Marjorie Lillian Stewart Carnell in Ballarat in 1918 and they had two sons and a daughter who all served in WWII. William retired after working at the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper in Melbourne for over 30 years.
Dunstan – about 1940

Sergeant John James (Jack) Dwyer was born in 1890 at Cygnet, near Bruny Island in Tasmania. In September 1917 he showed ‘contempt of danger, cheerfulness and courage’ during the fierce Battle of Polygon Wood in Belgium. He was with the AIF and was 27 years old at the time he led this team. He married Myrtle Mary Dillon in 1919 on Bruny Island and they had six children.

Dwyer entered Tasmania State Parliament in 1931 and finally served as Deputy Premier of Tasmania from August 1958 to May 1959, and remained in Parliament almost until his death in 1962.
John Dwyer from AWM

Lieutenant Robert Cuthbert Grieve was born in 1889 in Brighton and he attended Caulfield Grammar and Wesley College. He served in the AIF, being awarded a VC in 1917 for actions in Belgium in which he showed ‘disregard of danger’….. and …… ‘set a splendid example’. He suffered severe shoulder wounds and after further health issues was invalided back to Australia in 1918.

He married May Isabel Bowman (b. 1880, and died in the UK in 1929). May had served in the Australian Army Nursing Service and had nursed him during his illness. They married in Sydney and had a son Robert (Bob) Henderson Grieve (b. 1924) who became a well-known abstract painter. Robert Grieve ran his own soft goods business in Melbourne after his war service. Robert was always a great supporter of Wesley College. He died in 1957 aged 68 years.
Grieve receives VC from King George V – (source Wesley College)

Captain Albert Jacka was born January 10, 1893 near Winchelsea and the family moved north to Wedderburn in central Victoria when he was five. He and two of his brothers enlisted in the AIF.  Albert Jacka received the VC for bravely re-capturing a trench position from the Turks at Gallipoli in 19th May 1915. This was the first VC to be awarded to an Australian in WWI.  Jacka was seriously wounded whilst leading another audacious attack in France in 1916, for which he received a Military Cross. He was wounded several more times and received a further bar to his Military Cross in 1917. He has been described as ‘Australia’s greatest front-line soldier’ earning great respect by his courageous example.

Albert Jacka returned to Melbourne in 1919 and married Frances Veronica (Vera) Carey (b. 1898) in 1921. She worked with him in an electrical goods business. They adopted a daughter Elizabeth Mary (Betty) in 1927. He served as Mayor of St Kilda for a short time, but became ill and died on January 17, 1932 at just 39 years of age.
Jacka from ABC news

Lieutenant Colonel William Donovan Joynt was born in 1889 in Elsternwick. He attended Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. (An exhibition at the school in 2008 recognised him as one of their praiseworthy Alumni.) From 1916 he saw much military activity in Europe and in 1918 in France led a bayonet attack which resulted in the capture of many German prisoners. For his ‘most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ in this battle he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

At Hawthorn in 1932 he married Edith Amy Garrett (b. 1896, d. 1978) who was a nurse. Joynt was 43 years old, and they had no children. He carried out military service again in Victoria during WWII. He was a valuable advocate for returned servicemen and their families, being a member of Melbourne Legacy and promoting the establishment of the Shrine of Remembrance. He worked in printing and publishing and wrote three autobiographical books: To Russia and Back through Communist Countries (1971), Saving the Channel Ports, 1918 (1975) and Breaking the Road for the Rest (1979).
Joynt had been the last surviving WWI VC recipient when he died in 1986 at age 97.
William Joynt – from Melbourne Grammar School article

Private Edward (Ted) Kenna (1919 – 2009) was the last living WWII recipient of the Victoria Cross. He was born in Hamilton Victoria and is buried there. His award was for ‘magnificent courage and complete disregard for his own safety’ during an attack in the South West Pacific in New Guinea in 1945. In a subsequent battle Ted was severely injured and spent a year in Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital where he met nurse Marjorie Ellen Rushbury (b.1924) who had also served in WWII. They married in 1947 and raised four children in Hamilton, with Ted working for the local council, see

Ted died two days after his 90th birthday and his wife died a few weeks later.
Ted Kenna – from AWM

Air Vice-Marshal Francis Hubert (Frank) McNamara was born in Rushworth, near Shepparton in central Victoria in 1894 and became a school teacher. He was the first and only Air Force pilot to be awarded a Victoria Cross in WWI. Frank McNamara rescued a crashed pilot near Gaza in 1917, having sustained a leg injury from shrapnel himself. He became one of the RAAF’s original officers when the RAAF was established in Australia in 1921. McNamara’s actions showed marked ’gallantry – his determination and resource…’.

In 1924 back in Melbourne, he married Hélène Marcelle Bluntschli of Brussels whom he had met in Egypt during the war ( ). They had a son and a daughter. He remained with the RAAF returning to the UK with appointments there, serving again in WWII. He died in 1961 in the UK.
McNamara- AWM

Second Lieutenant William (Rusty) Ruthven was born in 1893 in Collingwood. His military service started in the final stages of Gallipoli and then he was transferred in 1916 to the Western Front. In France in a display of ‘magnificent courage and determination’ through his isolated efforts Ruthven helped capture German positions and many prisoners. He was presented with his VC by Sir John Monash in France. He was called on to come back to Australia with several other Victoria Cross recipients in October 1918 to, reluctantly in his case, help with recruitment.

In 1919 Ruthven married Irene May White (b.1896), to whom he had been engaged before the war. They had two children.  During WWII he served in garrisons and camps units in Victoria. After this War he became the Mayor of Collingwood, and a Member of the Victorian Parliament from 1945 -1961. He died in 1970 in Heidelberg and his wife died in 1983 in Brunswick aged 87.
Ruthven in WWII

Private Bruce Steele Kingsbury was born in Armadale in 1918 and received a Victoria Cross for bravery in WWII in New Guinea. He had shown great ‘determination and devotion to duty’ and was killed on August 29, 1942. He was only 24 years old and had joined the AIF, as had his childhood friend Allen Avery. Avery was fighting bravely alongside Kingsbury when the latter was mortally wounded. A tribute to Kingsbury, the only VC of the Kokoda campaign is recorded in a remarkable video (from 9.00 to 11.00 min). He was the first soldier to be awarded a VC in the South Pacific conflicts.
Kingsbury- from AWM
All of these men showed remarkable courage and each made a unique contribution

Dunstan and Jacka received their awards after Gallipoli campaigns, Dwyer and Grieve fought significant battles in Belgium, and Cherry, Joynt and Ruthven saw horrid conflicts in France in WWI. McNamara was the only air force pilot in this group and fought in the Middle East in WWI. Both Kenna and Kingsbury were involved in battles in New Guinea in WWII.
Kingsbury and Cherry never returned home, being killed in conflicts in their early twenties. Several of the other men served as Mayors and/or parliamentarians in civilian life back in Australia.
Don’t forget to view the Heritage Walk
Prepared by Kathy Andrewartha July 2020
AIF Project
Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
Fine Spirit and Pluck. World War One Stories of Banyule, Nillumbik and Whittlesea (2016) Yarra Plenty Regional Library. South Morang.
Dunstan – article by his son Keith Dunstan –  We fought, but it was nothing – that VC hovered over us all
Grieve and the others, many photographs –
Kenna’s sons in New Guinea –
Kingsbury in Kokoda video –
McNamara – ‘The Senior’ Newspaper, April 2017 p. 1, and article in The Camperdown Chronicle about his wedding in Melbourne 1924

ABC Radio Transmitter in Springthorpe

Not many people will be aware there was an ABC radio transmission station located nearby on Waiora Road, outside of the Mont Park Asylum gates on the current site of Charles La Trobe College. There was a caretaker’s shack and a high receiving mast located there for the ABC and it is believed to be the transmitting station which received the broadcast of the ‘Agua Caliente Handicap’ won by Phar Lap in Mexico in 1938
During the First World War,  all radio stations came under Government control to ensure national security.
In the Second World War, the Dutch Navy set up a listening post in the former ABC radio transmitting station in Waiora Road. Radio transmissions from Japanese-occupied Java were monitored to assist resistance activities behind enemy lines. Armed guards were provided for the station and army tents were erected along Waiora Road.  See article on Dutch involvement n Indonesia.
Fully trained technicians of the PMG Department were recruited into the ‘Line of Communication (PMG) Signals’ to enable the Australian Civil Telecommunications system to be brought under military control in the event of invasion. The staff were designated as having reserved occupations and as such, they were not required to attend camps for continuous training but to attend home training at a drill hall or other approved sites for 6 days per year.
PMG Cloth badge for Signals
One of these units was raised in each military district with Telegraph Operating, Telephone Switchboard Operating, Despatch Rider, Construction, Wireless, Line Maintenance and Technical Maintenance Sections. To enable staff to be transported to assemblies and training, some of the PMG trucks had their red duco painted over in camouflage colours.
The men also prepared ‘dumps’ of essential line stores, devised drills for laying of ‘interruption‘ cables and developed priority lists for restoring wires in sequence to ensure that if lines were bombed they could be restored promptly.
1925 – 3AR live broadcast of Dame Nellie Melba Charity Concert from the Lilydale RSL club
1927 – AWA short-wave radio transmissions to England, transmissions began with ‘Jacko’ the kookaburra’s laugh and continued to be used by Radio National
1930 – ABC, 2UW, 3DB, 4BH and 5AD provide first coverage of cricket test match series in England
1932 – Nationalisation of the ABC—12 ABC stations and 43 commercial; ABC originally allowed to advertise but eventually funded by listeners licence fees
1939 – Radio Australia was incorporated into ABC
1940 – war time censorship imposed, and Department of Information under Sir Keith Murdoch took control of ABC nightly national news
1942 – ABC Act passed – giving the ABC power to decide what political speeches can be broadcast – power only used once
My family lived in Waiora Road from the middle of 1955 to around 1980 and remember the former ABC wireless towers on the site of what became the Macleod Technical School, now the Charles La Trobe College. I have been unable to source a map depicting the site of the transmission tower and believe it was located on the map above, in the area near the south east of the La Trobe University buildings, probably on the high point indicated on the contour map.
ABC history
Barker, Theo (1987) Signals: A History of the Royal Australian Army Corps of Signals 1788-1947, Royal Australian Corps of Signals Committee, Canberra
Bircanin, Iliya and Short, Alex (1995) Glimpses of the past: Mont Park, Larundel, Plenty, The Authors, Melbourne
Carty, Bruce (2011) On the air: Australian radio history. Gosford, NSW
Lines of Communication PMG Patch
The History of Radio in Australia- excerpts from a lecture given by Dr. Jeff Langdon in 1995
 Margaret Jack July 2020

Plenty Hospital at the Mont Park complex- a History

Plenty Hospital specialised in treating elderly patients with chronic mental ill health. It occupied the area south and west of the current roundabout on Gresswell Rd and Main Drive (formerly Wattle Ave), in the north of the Mont Park Asylum complex.
Plenty Hospital utilised some of the very first buildings erected on the Mont Park site, and two of these structures still remain in the Springthorpe Estate – now refurbished as units. They were the Plenty Ward D, the former Plenty Female Convalescent Ward built in 1939 (now Kingsbury Gardens, Main Drive) [see above photograph] and Plenty Wards E and F, now units opposite Kingsbury Gardens but facing onto Ernest Jones Drive.
Units on Ernest Jones Drive – Former Plenty E and F Wards built in 1913
Plenty Wards E and F were built in 1913 as the Laundry Workers Wards and the Laundry, later becoming the Plenty Hospital Kitchen (1957).
Female Convalescent Block – Later D Ward Plenty – photo by Iliya Bircanin 1990 from ‘Glimpses of the Past’
The Laundry Workers Wards E and F were immediately taken over by the Military in 1915 for accommodation for ‘shell-shocked’ World War I veterans, and designated No. 14 Australian Auxiliary Hospital. These ex- soldiers were then relocated in 1917 to the Mont Park ‘Chronic Block’ – the phalanx shaped complex of twelve Wards off Terrace Way, near the Springthorpe Playground.
By 1920 more Military Wards were built at the Plenty Hospital site. These would later be used as Plenty Wards C and R, the Plenty Main Block for women. (See the sketched map from about 1990.)
Layout of Plenty Hospital -Map from about 1990 from ‘Glimpses of the Past’
By 1952 the Laundry Workers Block/Wards E and F had 110 female patients.
These first hospital buildings were solid brick and included the double storey Plenty Nurses Hostel built in 1943, which featured curved window sun rooms (See photograph from 1995).
Nurses Hostel Plenty with curved sun-room windows. Built 1943 Photo from Iliya Bircanin 1995
In 1958, a new style of concrete veneer construction was used to build six Wards – A, B, N, O, P, and Q. Dr Cunningham Dax had persuaded the Government, when funds became limited, to build these Wards converting the current design for state school buildings.
A Ward Plenty – concrete veneer construction built 1958 – Photo Iliya Bircanin
These were all similar in size and floor plan and sat in a parallel configuration off, what is now Springthorpe Boulevard. See the aerial photograph of the Plenty Hospital site, with the Gresswell Hill Tank obvious in the top corner. The arrows in the lower part of this photograph point out the location of the railway line.
Aerial photo showing Gresswell Hill water tank and concrete veneer wards lying in parallel lines to the south. The Railway line is marked with small white arrows.
Up until 1964 a railway branch line ran from Macleod station into the Mont Park Plenty Hospital area. It ended where the now Ernest Jones Reserve sits at the top of Cascade Park. This was a very busy part of the Plenty complex, with the Administration Building south of the railway siding, the Central Clothing manufacturing  building off Wattle Ave near Ward D, and the Pharmacy and Pathology area a little further west. The Medical Officer’s flat was near here and used by the doctor who was on-call at night for the Mont Park and Plenty Hospitals.  Many staff residences were clustered along north Gresswell Rd, west of the Gresswell Hill Tank.
Activity increases at the Plenty Hospital site
By 1959 the Plenty Hospital site had 500 beds. The Mont Park, Larundel, Plenty complex patient population had risen to a total of about 1500 In-Patients by 1963, with each location having a mixture of acute and extended care wards, Plenty having many long term patients.
Plenty Hospital was gazetted as a separate institution in 1963 with 12 wards and Dr G.L. Rollo was the Acting Psychiatrist Superintendent, after Dr A. Arnaud Reid (the Psychiatrist Superintendent) had helped establish the facility. There were six wards for 237 men and six wards for the 237 women. Only three of these wards were locked, to prevent these elderly patients from wandering.
In 1964 Dr H.S. Paull became the Psychchiatric Superintendent and worked here until 1984. Most patients were long-stay and there was a great need for more and more geriatric wards. Some of the women patients could go home to be cared for by relatives, and some of the patients lived together in the community on Trial Leave, supported by nurses, utilising their combined ‘Invalid Pensions’ funds.
Tranquillising drugs were commonly used, and a small number of the patients in full time care still received Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), see
At the Hospital, rehabilitation was emphasised and social functions included dances, sports events, film nights and card games. Volunteers began to help more and more with these important activities as the years progressed. Chaplains were appointed and participated in many and varied counselling roles.
Only four Doctors were employed, so many duties fell to the inadequate number of male and female nurses, 60 – 75% of whom were untrained. Carpenters, painters, plumbers, gardeners and other tradesmen were usually supplied from the Mont Park campus.
Plenty kitchen with original laundry block chimney intact – photo from ‘Glimpses of the Past’
Patients were encouraged to undertake cooking classes, woodwork and gardening, as well as the paid VATMI (Victorian Aid for the Mentally Ill) work. This was mainly repetitive assembly and packing work done by the younger patients. Occupational Therapists supervised the VATMI activities so they were very busy. Screen printing was a characteristic program of Plenty Hospital, producing amongst other things 15, 000 Christmas Cards in 1965.
Many of the Plenty patients were over 55 years old, and 20% were over 65 years. These latter were generally in poor health physically, as well as suffering mental deterioration.
By 1965 Plenty Hospital was administered as both a ‘Mental Hospital’ with about 500 long term patients, and a separate ‘Psychiatric Hospital’ for acutely ill patients. Wards G, S and T were added in 1967 providing more ‘closed wards’. In 1971 the Psychiatric Hospital was utilising Wards C and R for about 55 acute patients and there were about 250 patients under care out in the community. Nurses and Social Workers kept these Out-Patients under review.
Nurses were required to do many hours of overtime to cover their duties. Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Nursing and Theology students helped with the workload as they furthered their practical education. By 1974, Ward B was being utilised as a Physiotherapy Centre, and Ward F was the thriving Recreation Centre for arts and other activities. At this time there was an increasing demand for accommodation for patients with acquired brain injury – either from accidents, stroke or alcohol abuse.
Large forked tree stump in Ernest Jones Reserve and near where Wards D, E and F were located
In 1974 Plenty Hospital was also operating Community Service Centres in Heidelberg (about 100 patients) and Healesville (about 50 patients). This Out-Patient service was becoming a significant part of the work, and was a prelude to the complete closure of the Hospital complex at Mont Park, Larundel and Plenty by 1994. In 1991, Plenty amalgamated with Mont Park and Larundel Hospitals to become the North Eastern Metropolitan Psychiatric Services (NEMPS).
Plenty Hospital area now Springthorpe Estate
Very little remains of the Plenty Hospital complex which served as a caring facility for thousands of older patients with mental health problems. Kingsbury Gardens (see photograph) served as the Female Convalescent Ward D for many years, and the apartments on Ernest Jones Drive (see photograph), were Wards E and F, the very first buildings designed as the Laundry Workers Ward and Laundry (1913). No trace remains in this vicinity of the other 10 wards, the railway line, the residences, or the other specialty buildings.
Mont Park Chronic Block now The Terraces verandas
In contrast, the Mont Park Hospital and Larundel Hospital areas have several Heritage buildings, preserved and fully utilised. See the Heritage Walks section of this website to get more of a feel for the extent of this historic area ( ).
Contributed by Kathy Andrewartha (2020), with thanks to Laurie Reid.
Annual Reports of the Mental Health Authority – from 1963 to 1974 e.g.
Bircanin, Iliya and Short, Alex (1995) Glimpses of the past: Mont Park, Larundel, Plenty, The Authors, Melbourne
Mont Park (Hospital for the Insane 1912-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1991; Psychiatric Hospital 1971-1991) Public Record Office of Victoria
Plenty (Mental Hospital 1963-1991; Psychiatric Hospital 1971 – 1991) Public Record Office of Victoria


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