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Published April 24th 2021
History on the hoof
Woodlands Historic Park at Greenvale, just a few minutes north of Melbourne Airport was established in 1980. Covering 700 hectares, the park's centrepiece is the magnificent Woodlands Homestead, a unique example of a pre-constructed timber home transported from England to Australia in 1842 by William Pomeroy Greene.
More than just an historic homestead Woodlands is home to retired legends of the race track. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
A retired Royal Navy officer Green, his wife and seven children arrived in Port Phillip in December 1842, accompanied by 12 staff. With the house under construction the family moved in to their 250 hectare selection on the 9th June 1843 and named it Woodlands.
The property developed quickly and by the end of 1844, was running 1400 sheep and cattle, including 90 dairy cows. Outbuildings were constructed, additions made to the main house, household gardens established and crops, fruit trees and vineyards planted.
Woodlands and its 700-hectares of parkland date back to 1842. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
The Greene's were living the good life on a property described by the author Rolf Boldrewood, who visited Woodlands frequently, as "the country house par excellence of the period". William Greene died suddenly in March 1845 and management of Woodlands passed to his wife Anne and Rawdon, the couple's second son.
Rawdon Greene was a keen horseman who promoted racing and steeple chasing at Woodlands and also became a founding member of the Victoria Turf Club in 1848. It was the start of a long association between Woodlands and horse racing, an association which ultimately led to part of the property becoming the home of Living Legends, retirement living for well known, often famous, former racehorses.
Woodlands fell into disrepair in the 1950's before restoration of the homestead began in 1983. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
For the price of a Living Legends Guided Tour, you can mingle with great former champions, including a number of Melbourne Cup winners, and learn about them and their feats. You'll get up close and personal with some great legends of the 'Sport of Kings', each with a great story to tell.
The last of a long line of Woodlands owners passed away in the 1950s and the property gradually fell into disrepair. Concerted efforts by the Shire of Bulla led to Woodlands and nearby Gellibrand Hill being acquired and afforded protection under the National Parks Act in 1981. Restoration of the homestead began in 1983.
Woodlands Historic Homestead was afforded protection under the National Parks Act of 1981. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Numerous tracks within the park attract walkers, cyclists & horse-riders and the ruins of two other early homesteads, Dundonald and Cumberland, attract the curious. A visit to Woodlands Historic Park is a great family day out. Apart from the lure of the Living Legends, visitors can tour the homestead & gardens and enjoy a traditional Devonshire Tea in the tea rooms.
Entry to Woodlands Historic Homestead is FREE. A self-guided tour of the Living Legends costs Adults $16.50, Concession $11 and Children 5 to 15 years $5.50. Children under 5 are FREE.
A close-up, personal guided tour complete with carrots to feed the legends costs Adults $27.50, Concession $22 and Children 5 to 15 years $11. Again Children under 5 are FREE.
Among the famous names to have been retired at Living Legends is EFFICIENT, winner of the 2007 Melbourne Cup. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Getting There …..
Woodlands Historic Homestead is 27-kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD, just under a 30-minute drive via the CityLink Tollway and Tullamarine Freeway.
For the price of a guided tour visitors to Woodlands Historic Homestead can get up close and personal with some Living Legends of the track. Photo: Copyright Ian Gill / Footloose Media
Where:Woodlands Historic Park, 207 Oaklands Road, Greenvale
Cost:Entry to Woodlands Historic Homestead is FREE. A self-guided tour of the Living Legends costs Adults $16.50, Concession $11 and Children 5 to 15 years $5.50. A guided tour costs Adults $27.50, Concession $22, Children 5 to 15 $11. Under 5 FREE.