Discovered an amazing old school in Concord, inner west of Sydney, called Rivendell. It’s sits by the water and it’s absolutely beautiful.
We spent a lovely Sunday lunch time exploring parts of Sydney, I really didn’t think were worth exploring. Concord. Located in the inner west of Sydney, I honestly didn’t think Concord had that much to offer. No offence Concordians (if that’s such a thing). Though Concord does hold a lot of history, it was never one of those places I though had the type of history I would be interested in. Which is mostly historical buildings from either the pioneer days, colonial days and early 1800s.
Late last year, a few of us caught the Paramatta River Cat from Rydalmere to Barangaroo for lunch. As we travelled through the area of Homebush and Concord, I noticed an unusual site sitting on a small concrete jetty on the water. It was old and looked like something built in the 1800s – right up my alley. But what was it? I had to know. At the time, I was a little preoccupied with other things on the ferry ride and then exploring and enjoying a delicious lunch at Barangaroo. I made a mental note to remind myself to look up what it was on the water, and whether it was possible or not to explore.
In truth, I had completely forgotten about it, until about four weeks ago when we found ourselves having to travel to Turramurra. On the way back, we cut through Homebush, along the water and I sighted the building I had seen late last year when I was on the ferry, still sitting quietly on the water. I pointed at it quickly to my partner to see if he had remembered spotting it when we were on the ferry. He did and had forgotten we were supposed to go check it out.
So, I did a quick search on the map whilst we drove past and discovered what it was. And yes, it was accessible (to a point) to the public. It’s called Rivendell School.
Rivendell School is part of a joint NSW Ministry of Health and Department of Education (DoE) facility.
It is located within the historic Thomas Walker Estate at Concord West and shares the site with the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Service. Rivendell School provides the educational component for students admitted to the Yaralla and Lawson programs of the Rivendell Adolescent Mental Health Unit.
The school also has two DoE programs for students with an emotional disorder. The Paterson program is for students in Years 9 and 10. The Sulman program is for students in Years 11 and 12.
There are two learning centres staffed by Rivendell School on off-site campuses. One is within the Walker Adolescent High Severity Psychiatric Unit in the Concord Centre for Mental Health. The other learning centre is at Gna Ka Lun Acute Adolescent Mental Health Unit attached to Campbelltown Hospital.
Thomas Walker migrated from Scotland in 1822, at the age of 18, to work for his uncle’s company, Jones & Walker. When the senior partners retired he assumed control and the company prospered, expanding into pastoral leases, politics and banking. In the 1840s he began acquiring land in the Concord area and by the late 1860s his estate comprised 124 hectares taking in prime river sites around Brays Bay and Majors Bay. In 1860 he married Jane Hart in Sydney. On 18th September 1861, Jane gave birth to Eadith Campbell Walker. The Walkers moved to their country residence of Yaralla where Jane died in 1870.
Thomas Walker brought his sister, Joanna, from Scotland to help raise his daughter. At Joanna’s suggestion the family adopted Anne Masefield as a companion for Eadith and the two girls grew up together as sisters. Thomas Walker died at Yaralla on 2nd September 1886 and was buried at Ashfield.
An interesting fact about the name: Rivendell is the name from the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and was chosen because in The Hobbit Rivendell is a place to rest and recuperate – a sanctuary for those on difficult journeys. The perfect name chosen for this school.
The grounds are open to the public, as long as you don’t approach any of the building during school hours, for obvious reasons. And no driving into the property is allowed at all, unless you work there or have a child attending the school.
We parked up the road and walked down the very pleasant driveway which lead to the house. It was a perfect Autumn Sunday, with blue skies and a crisp feel to the air. The leaves of the trees had all changed and were shining the most incredible colours of orange, yellow and red under the afternoon sun.
And, I finally got to wander down to the water to inspect the building on the concrete wharf which had first attracted me from the ferry. Which of course, was a small port for any students, staff or visitors back in the day, arriving by water. Now it was being used for storage for water sports activities, with a variety of kayaks and canoes inside.
It’s a peaceful place, and I am glad we went on a Sunday to visit. As we normally spend our Friday’s exploring such locations. It was quiet, with only one family present walking their dog. No one else. though, we did have to be extremely quiet when whilst exploring the main building, as there are residents inside, and we didn’t want to disturb anyone, stress anyone out or cause any issues, at the very least.
If you happen to be travelling through the area, and have some time to take a nice stroll through the grounds. I highly recommend it, as it was so lovely to be by the water, absorbing the healthy rays of the sunshine, as we admired the building, enjoyed some fresh air, whilst learning about some of Sydney’s history.