I'm a retired photographer living in Lilydale mainly researching and writing on Australian aviation history. Now writing more on general subjects.
Published February 19th 2020
Take a nostalgic walk back in time
Castella Street was named after Paul de Castella a native of Gruyere, a French-speaking area of Switzerland who arrived in Melbourne in 1849. In 1850, he began buying property in the Lilydale area. By 1861 he had expanded a small vineyard to 76 acres.
The street is best explored on foot, starting at Market Street. On that corner is the entrance to Melba Park, named in honour of Dame Nellie Melba. Most of the park is unfenced, but on the corner of Castella and Market Streets are two large wrought iron gates, erected by Dame Nellie in 1927 as a memorial to her father David Mitchell. A plaque on the gate reads, "To the memory of David Mitchell. This tribute to my beloved father by his daughter Nellie."
Just inside the entrance is a large oak tree, the Mafeking Tree. An iron fence is erected around the tree, with a brass plate affixed, bearing the following inscription: "Relief of Mafeking. This tree was planted by the people of Lilydale on 13th June, 1900, to celebrate the gallant and successful defence of Mafeking, South Africa by Colonel Baden Powell and his brave garrison during the siege by the Boers extending over a period of 209 days…"
Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. 35-37 Castella Street. Hours: Open seven days 10.00 am. - 4.00. pm. Features permanent and themed displays of Lilydale's rich history. The museum is in the original Lillydale Shire Council Chambers, the foundation stone was laid in 1889.
Athenaeum Theatre. 39-41 Castella Street. Originally the Mechanics Institute and Free Library. The foundation stone which was laid in 1888 is now on display in the entrance foyer of the theatre. The building is now the home of the Athenaeum Theatre Company, which stage four plays each year. The office is open on Monday and Tuesdays 10 am – 2.00 pm, and if they are not busy can show you the Melba Room which features Melba memorabilia.