This community campaign, the ‘longest running, most professional and successful heritage campaign in Australia” (Nigel Lewis, Architect and heritage consultant) was all about preserving the entire Abbotsford Convent precinct – a 5.6 hectare “intact 19th Century rural landscape” just four kilometres from Melbourne’s city centre.
The campaign began in 1997 when the state government awarded a tender for a housing development on this piece of Crown Land acquired in 1975. A very determined community coalition fought the ruling and developed the idea of an Arts and Education precinct which incorporated the Collingwood Children’s Farm and its monthly Farmers’ Markets.
Although the arts/education project on the southern part of the site was given the green light in 2002, ultimate victory came in July 2005 when all idea of housing development was abandonned and the northern section was given to the community for carparking.
The convent will be occupied by a Steiner School, the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE, 3MBS classic radio, the offices of the Slow Food Movement in Victoria, indoor and outdoor function spaces and artists’ studios. The Collingwood Children’s Farm and the Farmers’ Markets will continue.
The precinct is an ‘island’ surrounded by the Yarra River and indigenous bushland. From 1842-1850 it was the St Helier’s estate of Edward Curr, the man who led Victoria’s separation movement from New South Wales.
For a century from the 1860s the Sisters of the Good Shepherd provided food, work and shelter for thousands of vulnerable people. The convent could care for up to 1000 and was self-sufficient through its farming, Industrial School and laundry activities.
COLLINGWOOD CHILDRENS FARM INFO
-Farm open every day of the year 9am – 5pm Milking at 10am & 4pm
-Farmers’ Markets: 2nd Saturday each month, gold coin entry.
Victorian producers bring their best and freshest produce-low chemical, organic fruit and vegetables, fresh and seasonal.You can stock up on olive oil,eggs,breads,jams honey, free range venison,chooks,rabbits,buffalo,smoked fish and eels.
-Family Days: 1st Sunday each month
FOR MORE INFO: Ph 03 9417 5806 www.farm.org.au Melways 44 G5