Mont Park

Mont Park was an area 14 km north-west of Melbourne which had several institutions for the accommodation and treatment of persons with psychiatric and related illnesses. It is now part of Bundoora and Macleod.

In 1907 the State Government acquired 12 sq km of land from the Bundoora Park and Strathallan estates, either side of Plenty Road, and beyond the fringe of metropolitan Melbourne. The purpose of the land was for the transfer of asylum facilities from Yarra Bend, Kew and Fairfield. The Bundoora area is elevated and Bundoora Park enclosed Mount Cooper (137 metres elevation), the highest point within 15 km of Melbourne. The former grazing properties were park like, and the name Mont Park was descriptive of the locality.

In 1910 the first building for the Mont Park psychiatric institution was opened, and in the following year a spur railway line was opened form Macleod to Mont Park. The first patients from Yarra Bend arrived at Mont Park, and gardens, orchards and farm facilities were established.

Within five years Mont Park facilities were required for service personnel from World War I, along with the creation of a military sanatorium. A military mental hospital was established in 1920. Further transfers of patients from Yarra Bend occurred in 1923-24, and the patient population was about 1200. By the 1930s there was overcrowding of some facilities.

In 1938 work was begun on an adjoining project, the Larundel psychiatric hospital, but the intervention of World War II resulted in the accommodation being put to numerous temporary uses. Larundel was first used as a hospital in 1953. The other major institution, the sanatorium, was named Gresswell in 1940, after Dan Gresswell, a pioneering public health administrator.

By the 1970s improvements in medication enabled patients to be less reliant on treating institutions. (During the previous decade land had been taken from Mont Park for Melbourne’s third university, LaTrobe). The hospital populations were nearly halved during the 1970s-80s. In 1992-93 the Gresswell sanatorium and an adjoining repatriation hospital were closed.

Mont Park was renamed the North Eastern Metropolitan Psychiatric Services and Larundel was retained as a psychiatric hospital. Much of the Mont Park land has been given over to open space and housing, and the name Mont Park is no longer used.

There are several heritage reminders of Mont Park to be seen in Cherry Street, Ernest Jones Drive and Springthorpe Boulevard, including an avenue of honour (1919) and the Ernest Jones hall (1930).

The patient populations of the Mont Park facilities were:

year population
1913 295
1921 437
1925 1264
1952 1658

Further Reading

Ilya Bircanin and Alex Short, Glimpses of the past: Mont Park, Larundel, Plenty, the authors, 1995

Bundoora and Macleod entries