Sydney Architecture Images-The Inner West

Yaralla House, Dame Eadith Walker Hospital Group


Edmund Blacket, then John Sulman


The Drive, Concord West, NSW 2138




Victorian Italianate


rendered stone


Government Hospital House
Outstanding Victorian Italianate mansion set in extensive grounds and complemented by several original outbuildings. The building has high architectural, social and historic significance for its association with the prominent Walker family and architects, Edmund Blackett and John Sulman. One of the oldest and largest (former) residences in the area. State significant.


Large asymmetrical two-storey building, now mostly plain rendered. Victorian/Italiante style. Slate roof with flashed ridges. Ornamentation generally confined to balconies and verandahs. Simple mouldings on cornices, pilasters and undersills around windows. Main feature is four storey Italianate tower, with smaller octagonal towers at corners. Verandahs reveal a distinct Indian influence. Detailing of special interest includes metal chimney "spikes", large brackets under eaves, latticework valances, timber balustrades and leadlight windows at front.


The building was built in two stages. The original Italianate villa was designed by Edmund Blacket for Thomas Walker. Construction began in 1851 using stone quarried on the property. It was complete by 1864 but the exact date of completion is uncertain. Seven years after Thomas Walker's death in 1886, his daughter, Eadith, commissioned family friend, John Sulman, to design additions. Various extensions were made, reaching finality in 1899. Upon Eadith Walker's death in 1937, the trustees of the Walker estate purchased Yaralla and its grounds for 66,025 pounds and donated it to the State government. An additional 33,975 pounds was provided from the estate to found the Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospital on the site, to be administered by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. All 2,851 households items from the house were auctioned over eight days in 1938.

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Yaralla, covering an area of 37 hectares, occupies an important part of the Concord peninsular and contains several buildings and gardens of historical interest.

In 1797 Isaac Nichols (1770-1819) received a land grant in Concord which he named Yaralla, an Aboriginal word believed to mean 'camp' or 'home'. Nichols, who had the distinction of becoming Australia's first Postmaster in 1810, established an extensive orchard on the property.

Yaralla was purchased from the Nichols family in 1840 by Thomas Walker (1804-1886) a merchant, banker and benefactor. In the 1860s Walker commissioned Edmund Blacket to design a house which was later extended by another noted architect Sir John Sulman between 1893-99. Thomas Walker's will, by way of codicil, left 100,000 pounds to establish a convalescent hospital on land that he owned at Concord. The executors of his will set aside a portion of Walker's land at Rocky Point on which to build The Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital. The Hospital, also designed by Sir John Sulman, eventually was completed at the cost of over 130,000 pounds. The shortfall was met by Eadith and Joanna Walker and Anne Masefield. All patients were admitted free of charge. The costs of running the Hospital were met from Thomas Walker's estate, administered by the Perpetual Trustee Company, until it became too costly to continue the operation and the Hospital was finally closed. Today the building is known as Rivendell.

Yaralla was inherited by his daughter Dame Eadith Walker (1861-1937) and was a centre for social life in Sydney in the early 1900s. Dame Eadith was noted for her charitable work and was a strong supporter throughout her life of the Red Cross and the RSL. Following the death of Dame Eadith Walker the trustees of the Walker Estate purchased the land on which Yaralla stands and this was handed over to the State to be used as a covalescent hospital. It became known as the Dame Eadith Convalescent Hospital and today remains an important part of the Central Sydney Area Health Service.

The setting of the novel The Last Rose of Summer (1992) by Di Morrissey is said to be loosely based on the Yaralla estate.

Further information:

Visit Concord Heritage Society's website for more information, tours and illustrations of the property:

Concord Heritage Society


Australian Dictionary of Biography. includes entries for Isaac Nichols in vol. 2 p. 283, Thomas Walker, vol. 2 p. 565 and Eadith Walker, vol. 12 pp. 356-357.

Coupe, Sheena Concord, a centenary history. Concord, NSW: Council of the Municipality of Concord, 1983. Chapter 5 'The Walkers of Yaralla' provides a good overview.

Latham, Helen Yaralla, a history of the Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospital Thesis, University of New South Wales,1988.

Skehan, Patricia The Walkers of Yaralla. Concord, NSW: P. Skehan Publishing, 2000

Skehan, Patricia Eadith: Concord's Royal Kin. Concord, NSW: P.Skehan Publishing, 2003.

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