Callan Park Hospital for the Insane

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Callan Park Hospital for the Insane
Mental hospital c park.jpg
General view of the hospital
Location Lilyfield, NSW, Australia
Hospital type Mental Hospital
Founded 1878
Closed 2008

The Callan Park Hospital for the Insane (1878 – 1914) was an insane asylum located in the grounds of Callan Park, an area on the shores of Iron Cove in the Sydney suburb of Lilyfield in Australia. In 1915 the facility was renamed Callan Park Mental Hospital, and again in 1976 to Callan Park Hospital. Since 1994, the facility has been formally known as Rozelle Hospital. In April 2008, all Rozelle Hospital services and patients were transferred to Concord Hospital. The Park (Special Provisions) Act, 2002 / {{{4}}} (NSW) restricts future uses to health and education, but the New South Wales Government has not revealed its intentions for the site.

The Kirkbride Complex, Callan Park
One of many rock carvings in the hospital grounds, possibly the work of former patients

In 1873 the Colonial Government of New South Wales purchased the Callan Park site, then known as "Callan Estates", with the purpose of building a large lunatic asylum to ease the severe overcrowding at the Gladesville Hospital for the Insane, at Bedlam Point, near Tarban Creek in Gladesville. The new lunatic asylum was designed according to the views of Dr Thomas Kirkbride, an American. Colonial Architect James Barnet worked with the Inspector of the Insane Dr Frederick Norton Manning to produce a group of twenty neo-classical buildings. These were completed in 1885 and named the Kirkbride Block.

De-institutional care[edit]

The Kirkbride complex continued to be used for the housing and treatment of patients until 1994, when the last remaining services were transferred to other buildings in the Callan Park grounds, towards the Broughton Hall at the southern end of the site. Many patients were also transferred intobig building in the local community, in line with the policy of the State Government (see The Richmond Report of 1983 which accelerated the move towards de-institutionalising care), creating a number of social and moral problems.

In 2007 it was reported that the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor MP had announced in Parliament that the University of Sydney and the Government had commenced discussions about the future use of Callan Park. The University and the Government proposed to enter into a memorandum of understanding and then a lease.[1] In June 2008, Rozelle Hospital services and patients were transferred to Concord Hospital. In the face of strong community opposition, by October 2008 the Government rejected the University's plans to accommodate up to 6,000 students on the Callan Park site and announced that the 40 hectares (99 acres) site would be handed to Leichhardt Council.[2]

Current use[edit]

The Park (Special Provisions) Act, 2002 / {{{4}}} (NSW) restricts future uses of the site to health and education, but the New South Wales Government has not yet revealed its development intentions. After a period of extensive renovation, the Kirkbride Complex which housed the former hospital, the Sydney College of the Arts, the fine arts campus of the University of Sydney, commenced occupancy under a 99–year lease.

It was later revealed in Frank Sartor's biography, The Fog on the Hill - How NSW Labor Lost its Way, that the NSW Government led by Kristina Keneally secretly planned to compensate Sydney University on the 'loss' of Callan Park by offering it the North Eveleigh site in Redfern, which had been prepared for tender. However, it was reported that the North Eveleigh site had been prepared for the market and was valued at about $100 million. Cabinet had also approved the proceeds of the North Eveleigh sale to go towards a major upgrade of Redfern Station. Yet the university was only prepared to pay some $30 million, and so the 'deal' didn't go ahead.[3]

In November 2011, Leichhardt Council and the Friends of Callan Park formally presented the Draft Callan Park Master Plan to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Brad Hazzard MP. The Draft Masterplan is being considered by the Government.[4]

Ricki-Lee's music video for her song "Crazy" was filmed at the hospital in 2012.

The parklands are currently open to the public for use and enjoyment.

Theft of antiques[edit]

A theft occurred in 2003 of thousands of medical antiques from the Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, including a human skeleton, medical and dental instruments, lithographs and furniture.[5]

Famous inmates and staff[edit]



  • Lillian May Armfield (1884–1971), a pioneering Sydney police detective worked as a nurse at the Callan Park Hospital for the Insane (1907–1915), before embarking on her police career.
  • Graeme Revell, noted film composer, was a nurse in the facility in the late 1970's.


  1. ^ McDougall, Bruce (27 June 2007). "Callan Park plan anger". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "University of Sydney denied Callan Park development". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Sartor: Keneally discussed plan for North Eveleigh with Sydney Uni". Redfern Eveleigh Darlington Waterloo Watch. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "The 2010 Master Plan". Callan Park. Leichhardt Council. November 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Nicholls, Sean (22 August 2003). "Ironic theft: great loss to hospital's history would be small beer in sale". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°51′57″S 151°09′44″E / 33.8659°S 151.1623°E / -33.8659; 151.1623