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 former hospital
Location Lilyfield, New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates 33°51′57″S 151°09′44″E / 33.8659°S 151.1623°E / -33.8659; 151.1623Coordinates: 33°51′57″S 151°09′44″E / 33.8659°S 151.1623°E / -33.8659; 151.1623
Hospital type Disused mental hospital
Founded 1878 (1878)
Closed April 2008 (2008-04) (as Rozelle Hospital)
Lists Hospitals in Australia
Building details
Callan Park Hospital for the Insane is located in Sydney
Callan Park Hospital for the Insane
Location in Greater Sydney
Alternative names
  • Callan Park Hospital for the Insane (1878-1914)
  • Callan Park Mental Hospital (1915-1976)
  • Callan Park Hospital (1976-1994)
  • Rozelle Hospital (1994-2008)
General information
Architectural style
Current tenants
Owner Government of New South Wales via NSW Ministry of Health
Technical details
Material Sandstone
Grounds 61 hectares (150 acres)
Design and construction
Architecture firm Colonial Architect of New South Wales
Other designers
Official name
  1. Callan Park Conservation Area & Buildings
  2. Callan Park House - Rozelle Hospital
  3. Rozelle Hospital - Broughton Hall
Designated 2 April 1999
Reference no.
  1. 00818
  2. 00823
  3. 00831

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 Lilyfield, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. In 1915 the facility was renamed as the 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 Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act, 2002 (NSW) restricts future uses of the site to health and education.

In 2015 the Government of New South Wales approved the master plan for the 61-hectare (150-acre) site and retains ownership in consultation with the Municipality of Leichhardt pending the establishment of a trust to manage the site's ongoing use as a wellness sanctuary, encompassing health, community and educational uses.[1] Current tenants include the Sydney College of the Arts, Writing NSW (formerly the New South Wales Writers' Centre), and New South Wales Ambulance headquarters.

The current structure incorporates heritage-listed sandstone institutional buildings and houses that were based on designs by the colonial architects, James Barnet and Mortimer Lewis and grounds designed by botanist, Charles Moore, the founder of the Royal Botanic Gardens.


Rozelle Hospital.
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 into buildings 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.[5] 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 40 hectares (99 acres) of the site would be handed to Leichhardt Council.[6]


On 2 April the area and buildings were listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register with the following statement of significance:[2][3][4]

The site as a whole has very high levels of social significance and has special associations for the local and broader community both as an open space resource and for its cultural and aesthetic value. Kirkbride Block is significant as the collaborative work of three prominent figures in the late 19th century, James Barnet, Charles Moore and Frederick Norton Manning, as the largest remaining mental institution in NSW and as the first to be designed as a curative and therapeutic environment. The landscape design and setting of Kirkbride is vital and paramount to the design and philosophy of 'moral therapy' treatment evidenced in the intimate design of courtyards through to the long vistas over the hospital grounds and surrounding country. The landscape cannot be separated from the buildings and performs an equal and active function in the creation of the therapeutic environment. It is highly significant that much of the original fabric, character and setting for this major Victorian period design remain intact within a highly developed inner city locality.

Callan Park House (former Garry Owen House), as an impressive early and mid-Victorian residence is one of the oldest remaining houses in the district. It has strong associations with the early history of the Rozelle area. It is an important visual landmark element within the hospital.

Rozelle Hospital grounds are of historic and social significance at a state level in their association with the establishment of two hospitals, Callan Park and Broughton Hall, demonstrating two major changes in mental health in NSW. These changes, and changing ideas in garden design, are reflected in the grounds. The grounds are of historic social significance in their evidence of patient involvement.

The grounds of the former Callan Park area of Rozelle Hospital are of historic significance on a national level as an integral element of the first hospital for the insane which was designed based on moral therapy principles and built in the one campaign. They are a direct application of the moral therapy principles of psychiatric care in the landscape. They are associated with: Dr Frederick Norton Manning, Inspector General for the Insane; James Barnet, Colonial Architect; and Charles Moore, Director of the then Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

— Statement of significance, New South Wales State Heritage Register.

The building was also listed on the (now defunct) Register of the National Estate.

Current use[edit]

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

The Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act, 2002 (NSW) restricts future uses of the site to health and education. 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 Sartor's biography, The Fog on the Hill - How NSW Labor Lost its Way, that the Keneally-led NSW Government 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 A$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.[7]

Other tenants include Writing NSW, formerly the New South Wales Writers' Centre, and the New South Wales Ambulance headquarters.[1]

In November 2011, the 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.[8][1] In 2015 the New South Wales Parliament approved the draft masterplan and agreed to establish a specialised trust, finalise the site's master plan and develop a sustainable long-term funding model to protect it.[9] The Callan Park and Broughton Hall Trust will manage the site and is likely to comprise the following trustees appointed by the Governor:[10]

  • an appointee to represent the traditional owners;
  • three appointees on the recommendation of the Premier to represent the relevant NSW Government Ministers in relation to Heritage, Health and Environmental considerations;
  • three appointees on the recommendation of relevant local Council area, at least 1 of who has expertise in heritage;
  • an appointee to represent mental health consumers;
  • an appointee from the local council area to represent the Friends of Callan Park;
  • an appointee to represent educational/arts tenants/lessees;
  • an appointee from the local council area to represent sporting bodies; and
  • an appointee to represent not-for-profit organisations which are tenants/lessees.

In popular culture[edit]

  • It features in the novel Jessica by Bryce Courtenay with the lead character committed to the asylum for four years.
  • The music video for Ricki-Lee's song "Crazy" was filmed at the hospital in 2012.

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.[12]

Notable 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 1970s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d McGregor Coxall (16 October 2013). "Callan Park: Final Adopted Master Plan" (PDF). Municipality of Leichhardt. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Callan Park Conservation Area & Buildings". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Callan Park House - Rozelle Hospital". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Rozelle Hospital - Broughton Hall". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 18 September 2017. 
  5. ^ McDougall, Bruce (27 June 2007). "Callan Park plan anger". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "University of Sydney denied Callan Park development". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Sartor: Keneally discussed plan for North Eveleigh with Sydney Uni". Redfern Eveleigh Darlington Waterloo Watch. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "The 2010 Master Plan". Callan Park. Leichhardt Council. November 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Barr, Eliza (4 June 2015). "BALMAIN STATE GREENS MP JAMIE PARKER "DELIGHTED" AFTER PARLIAMENT VOTES TO SAVE CALLAN PARK IN ROZELLE". Inner West Courier Inner City, The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "Management of Callen Park". Community Issues: Callan Park. Inner West Council. 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  11. ^ Caines, Kimberley (9 January 2017). "EERINESS OF CALLAN PARK GIVES RAVENSWOOD FILM CREW THE CREEPS". Inner West Courier Inner City, The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  12. ^ 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. 


CC-BY-icon-80x15.png This Wikipedia article was originally based on the Callan Park Conservation Area & Buildings, the Callan Park House - Rozelle Hospital, and the Rozelle Hospital - Broughton Hall, listed on the "New South Wales State Heritage Register", published by the Government of New South Wales under CC-BY 3.0 AU licence (accessed on 18 September 2017).

External links[edit]