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Mayday Hills Beechworth

June 7, 2015

I am spending this Queen’s Birthday long weekend in Beechworth. The main reason for my visit is to spend a few relaxing days cycling and walking. But of course, I can’t spend time in a town with such important history without having a bit of a dig around.

George KerfordI am staying at the cycle friendly George Kerferd Hotel. George Kerford was mayor of Beechworth from 1863-1864, and in 1874 became the 10th Premier of Victoria. The George Kerford hotel is in the grounds of Mayday Hills which was the original name for the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, the fourth such hospital built in Victoria.

The asylum opened in 1867 and closed in 1995 from Wikipedia: “The asylum was surrounded by almost 106 hectares of farmland, making the hospital self-sufficient with its own piggery, orchards, kitchen gardens, fields, stables and barn. For recreation, the asylum included tennis courts, an oval and cricket pavilion, kiosk and theatre”. There is no sign today of piggeries or orchards but the 11 hectares  with it’s huge old trees  are stunning.  Even on a cold winter’s day.

I came across the following information on a poster in the garden:

“Over the life of this institution (1867-1995) the inmates worked tirelessly to support the ongoing daily running of it. One such person was Robert Coates who was transferred from Yarra Bend Asylum.  He had been a professional landscape gardener. He was given the responsibility of the selection, planning and planting of the trees in front of the main buildings.  Most of the trees came from the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens and several species still survive.  Robert Coates spent 5 years at Beechworth and was transferred to Kew Asylum after it’s opening in 1872”.

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