I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published February 26th 2014
History on the Hoof
Woodlands Historic Park at Greenvale, just a few minutes north of Melbourne Airport, was established in 1980.
The original Woodlands homestead was transported from England in kit form and reconstructed on-site
Covering 700 hectares, the parks 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.
A retired Royal Navy officer, Green, his wife and seven children arrived in Port Phillip in December 1842 accompanied by twelve staff. With the house under construction the family moved in to their 250 hectare selection on the 9th June 1843 and named it Woodlands.
Woodlands was originally a 250 hectare selection granted in 1843
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.
Some of the early outbuildings survive today behind the main house
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.
Much of Woodlands still reflects examples of early colonial style architecture
The last of a long line of Woodlands owners passed away in the 1950's 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.
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.