Sunday, September 6, 2009

Burnley History Walk

First off I'd like to say I'm REALLY impressed with the quality of the guided heritage walk conducted by the Richmond & Burnley Historical Society.
I'm not going to copy it here but just give a brief summary of the things we saw and history we learnt.
I highly recommend going on their walks and joining the society; alternatively you can pick up brochures for several differently themed self-guided history walks at the society's rooms and print the one available online.

Click on all images for larger view.

We started out at Golden Square Bicentennial Park; this was originally the site of the beautiful Neo-Gothic Revival bluestone *sob* Burnley Primary School and private houses, with a titchy-tiny street running part-way through it, Felicia Street, which is now extinct (Melway 2H, F11).

This isn't to scale or exact, it was put together to give the rough idea of what was where, approx. 20 houses in Felicia st.
The houses were demolished to give the kids more playing room but then the school itself was kicked to the kerb *sob* and today there is a square surrounded by houses on 3 sides and facing the train tracks on the 4th.
Apparently it got the name Golden Square from all the pigeon fanciers who lived around the square, in the dim distant past, and who were forever winning "the golden prize", hence Golden Square.

A pretty park with playing equipment, trees, a plaque to remember what had once been here and that's about it.

We walked down Parkville st (which was originally named Peckville after a landowner) which drunkenly toddles up behind houses in Gibdon st only to throw a fast left at 90 degrees and lurches out onto Maddon Gve again (Melway 2H, G 11).

See, over to the right of that lovely house (want, now, wrap and put under Xmas tree, pretty please?) and that other delicious red brick abode.
Oh, before we leave the park, the elm that used to be in the backyard of the caretaker's cottage is still there today.

Now, we wandered up Madden Gve to Loyola Gve which trotted us down to turn right into Twickenham Cres.
At this juncture I'd like to pop in that it was named after the Twickenham in The Old Dart with the crescent reaching the shores of the Yarra River and where the Twickenham Ferry would convey all and sundry across the water in their Sunday finest *ahem* or not.
This was soon replaced by a bridge; MacRobertson's Bridge, to be precise, to the tune of 100,000 pounds.
Of course, it had nothing at all to do with the fact that without a bridge his trucks had to drive into the city and back around to the factory.
No, nothing to do with it at all....

There is still a malt works on Twickenham Cres, between two green wedge-shaped spaces (Melway 2H, G12)
This beauty was designed by architect William Pitt.
See, architects and planning ministers really gave a fig way back when.
 These green spaces were filled with houses that were demolished for the freeway, which goes nowhere near them, but it is thought that they are possibly to be used for road widening at some future point.
We kept on going along until Twickenham Cres became Barkley Ave and crossed the freeway at the corner of Barkly and Burnley st.
Yes, pedestrian lights are there, as is a walking/cycling track to take one down to Loy's Paddock.
Loy's were the family which began Loy's soft drinks and their horses would be kept on the land beside the river which still holds the name today.
Seriously, pack a picnic and head there one sunny day, it is a very pretty spot.
Then we were faced with the hard task of dealing with this view ahead of us...

Opposite Herring Island (Melway map 2M, C1) 
The overhang in the top of the photo is the underside of the Sth Eastern Freeway.
Along this stretch was also the site of the Burnely Ferry which was a row boat that was barely patronised except for at least one regular; a lady from Toorak who'd do her weekly shopping at the Burnley shops while to-ing and fro-ing across the river in the row boat.

Herring (formerly Picnic) Island used to have only one channel of the river flowing past, the channel that sweeps up toward Como Park but when the quarries along the Richmond side of the Yarra were spent they were cleaned up and used as a second channel which also helped stop the periodical flooding in the Richmond area.

This is near the end of Mary Street, one of the last remnants of the quarries which is being turned back into wetlands.

Exhaust vent for the Burnley Tunnel.

Standing on top of the entrance to the Burnley Tunnel.
A new site for Mutant's next BORT?

This beauty was coughing her way up the incline but she finally made it!

The MFB training site in Burnley St, built on the old Richmond Council tip, which was a former quarry, tannery, abattoir and gawd knows what else.
There were a few gruesome tales about the things that went on in there (which I won't repeat) suffice to say it's got more than contaminated soil to cleanse from the area.
Old weighbridge, still patiently snoozing but now forever silent.
We then reached Madden Gve and turned right into it, which began leading us back to where we'd began our journey.
Next time you're near Swan Auctions pop in and wander out the back; you'll find the original Burnley Theatre intact with stage, etc, waiting for the wonderful patron of the arts to donate enough money so it can be bought and done over like the Sun Theatre in Yarraville and turned back into the spectacular place it once was.

Bluestone building (thought to be the only bluestone building in Burnley) in Madden Gve which was once a spirit merchant premises (for the selling of kero, metho, etc, not liquor).
We pottered up Adam St to the old Bell's Match factory (still largely intact) designed by architect Koch, who designed Labassa.
Then around down Barkley St into Stawell St and back to Madden Gve and Golden Square Park.
The historical society then fed us all with a vast array of sandwiches, fresh fruit, nuts, dry bikkies, antipasto and cheese platters, cakes, slices, pate, tea, coffee, cordial, BBQ and good conversation.
The pictures and boards were on display for all to see, as were several publications available to buy.

Such finds like the one above from an old newspaper copy, showing how it was once proposed to span the river to join Williams Rd in South Yarra with Burnley St in Burnley, are in large number at the society.

We were then offered a trip in the 25 seater bus they'd hired to take us up across the freeway, along beside the river and to the Burnley Horticultural Institute (what's left of it after Kennett and Bracks flogged bits off for various private development) which has botanical gardens that are open to the public but this is a well-kept secret, apparently.
We had a lovely wander through the gardens, had a guided tour on what was almost trashed and what was saved by neanderthal designers/architects and govt bodies.

Speaks for itself.

Old buildings were once able to be kept and turned into apartments, did you know Jussy?
You can snag the top sign, too, Andrew :)
Some old signs for Andrew and Tony.

And perhaps a Moran & Cato is waiting to be discovered in Burnley, so I'm told.
There shall be a couple of walks during Seniors Week so grab yourself a well-matured body to drag along on the next walk!


  1. Thanks for the old ad photos. I bet many motorists wish the Williams Road bridge was built. Now that sounded like a great and well organised day. I looked at RBHS website but it has not been updated for a long time and I could find out what the walk costs.

  2. Won't fit under the chrissy tree Jayne, okay if I just plonk it down in your back yard?

    Really nice photos, how long is the walk in kilometres and hours? Do you walk the whole distance or is it a bus to here, get out and walk around, back on the bus to the next destination type of thing?

  3. Yeah, I mentioned that the website was a bit out-dated but it seems they're all a REALLY active historical society and busy fighting council/state govt/fed govt/Connex, etc, for the Richmond and Burnley areas to retain infrastructure/land/features et el. If you pop into their rooms one Sunday you'll be able to grab the brochures - joining fees are $15 concession, $25 family/household, which then make history walks free for members or $10 per head for non-members.

    Thanks, River, backyard will do lol.
    The walk was approx. 3kms in 1.5 - 2 hours. We walked the whole way, then et our fill, then had the short bus trip to the botanical gardens.

    Another newspaper clipping they had (but I couldn't grab a pic of) compared aerial photos of the area in 1962 and 1972, before and after the freeway went through, and you don't realise how much land was lost (and the river effectively cut off) until you see the two side-by-side.

    Their passion and professionalism and simply knowing their product inside and out made for a damn good day.

  4. What a great post Jayne. I felt like I was with you on the walk. Wow that is one walk I would love to do. Sorry I haven't posted until now it's taken me ages to sort some family stuff out amongst other stuff mutter. Love your blog thanks for sharing

    Take care

  5. I'm really enjoying your photo essay tours!

  6. Thanks, Liz, glad to see you up and about again! :)

    Thanks, Scott, I'll try to squeeze another one in sometime this week :)

  7. Hi Jayne
    I LOVED your blog on the Burnley History Walk! I found it while searching Google for a photo of my former Primary School and I found you!!! I went to school there in the '70's and was so sad when it was demolished in 1977 - I spent Grade 6 in 1978 in a portable trailer inside Burnley Oval. That was great because I lived across the street in Park Grove, but it was such a beautiful building, and supposedly torn down because it had been built on a swamp. I'm currently living overseas with no chance of coming over and doing the walk myself :-(. There is a small photo of the school in the first photo which will have to tide me over for now. Sorry about the nostalgia, thanks again for posting your blog on the Web!
    Cheers, Sonia