Woodlands Historic Park

One of eight Aboriginal scar trees which have been found in the park. This Red Gum is 192 cm in diameter, and would already have been an old tree when a piece of bark was cut from it.
Aboriginal scar tree in Woodlands Historic Park

The land which is now the park was used by people for tens of thousands of years before Europeans started to invade in the 1830s. Red Gums and Riders quotes the few written references to the dispossessed landowners of the region, the last of which is from 1860. It goes on to cover the various European occupiers of the parcels of land which became the park, although it does not include the Greenvale Sanatorium Land. The rest of this page updates the park history given in Red Gums and Riders.

The new Melbourne Airport at Tullamarine was opened in 1970, and proposals for a park to its North had been made by the Shire of Bulla before this. The National Parks Service prepared a preliminary plan in 1973 and a more detailed plan was produced in 1974. The National Parks Service took possession of the "Woodlands" property of 265 ha in Nov. 1977 after compulsory acquisition, with funding from the State and Federal Governments and the Shire of Bulla. It was proclaimed as Gellibrand Hill Park under Schedule 3 of the National Parks Act on 19 May 1981.

The southern part of the park, known as Factor's land and including Gellibrand Hill itself and the ruins of the Cumberland and Dundonald homesteads, was purchased in 1980. This increased the size of the park to 658 ha, although the National Parks Act was not amended to formally include the additional land until 1986.

The historic significance of the derelict Woodlands homestead was not fully recognized until after the park was created. It was restored in 1983-84 and opened to the public on 25 Nov 1984.

The 1974 Management Plan had proposed that 174 ha of Factor's land be developed as a fauna park where Kangaroos, Emus and Koalas would be reintroduced. A "horse drawn open wagon or some other compatible form of transport could be driven by a ranger, who would provide commentaries". The 1982 Development Plan repeated this proposal but with the fauna park having a larger area, and an entry fee. The fauna park never eventuated, but an even larger fenced enclosure (the Back Paddock) was built instead for the conservation of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Fifteen Eastern Grey Kangaroos were enclosed when the Back Paddock fence was completed in 1987, and another 6 were released from enclosures which had been used for research (Restoration Plan, page 83 - an initial population of 30 has been suggested elsewhere). They had increased to 1143 ten years later, with disastrous results.

In 1995 the park was renamed Woodland Historic Park and expanded to 704 ha by the inclusion of "Twin Dams Paddock". In 2004 it was further expanded to 820 ha by the addition of the former Greenvale Sanatorium/Northwest Hospital land, including the Sugar Gum plantation. Parks Victoria did not receive a single cent to look after the extra land, so the derelict fencing could only be replaced with money from the quarry filling project in 2007.

In 2006 Woodlands homestead and the nearby fenced paddocks were leased to a private operator.

Bridge carrying the homestead driveway across Moonee Ponds Creek before formation of the park. Looking south-west towards St. Mary's Church site.
Bridge carrying the homestead driveway across Moonee Ponds Creek before formation of Gellibrand Hill Park