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A Walk Through Time

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 The 140-year history of The Park- Centre for Mental Health encapsulates the plight of the mentally ill, progress of treatments, politics, and social trends in psychiatry....

 Historian Professor Mark Finnane has chronicled the history of Wolston Park Hospital from 1865 to 2001. A fascinating read for local history-buffs at a great price of only $5.00 - available through The Park- Centre for Mental Health Reception. 









The Government decides psychiatric patients should no longer be treated at the old convict hospital.


The 120-acre Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum, at a horse stud belonging to Dr Stephen Simpson, opens. 69 patients accommodated in one two-storey building and four female wards. Dr Kearsey Caanan appointed as Superintendent. In 1869, the Lunacy Act is passed, containing provisions for the establishment and management of asylums


Woogaroo Asylum was renamed Goodna Asylum. In 1884, The Insanity Act reflected the growing medicalisation and hospitalisation for the treatment of madness. The term 'lunacy' is replaced by 'insanity'. The Asylum adds buildings to overcome crowding problems.


Woogaroo numbers grew to 1500 patients. Superintendent James Hogg led the renaming of asylum as a hospital to reflect a less custodial image.


Superintendant Dr H Bryam Ellerton spearheaded vigorous reform and building improvements that supported 'moral therapy' (ie the mentally ill could be improved if brought up in an uplifting environment).


The Hospital accommodation has improved, particularly with the opening of the hospital ward for those suffering physical disease. Patient employment schemes and recreation activities were adopted as aids to recovery.


Dr H.R Barrett, Deputy Medical Superintendent, began a long career at the Hospital.


Reform by Dr Basil Stafford led the way in sweeping changes to legislation and the Mental Hygiene Act (1938). The of the Hospital was changed to Goodna Mental Hospital and reorganised into two units to care for chronically ill patients needing only custodial care/ treatment and the other for acutely ill and recovering patients.


Hospital renamed Brisbane Mental Hospital. New facilities opening across the state reduce numbers at the Hospital and shifts emphasis of care to long-term chronic patients.


Change to Brisbane Special Hospital following introduction of the Mental Health Act of 1962. The changes yet again in 1969 to Wolston Park Hospital.


Queensland's mental health services continued to expand into provision of community based mental health services.

In 1989, the John Oxley Memorial Hospital opened on the Wolston Park campus to cater for the needs of those with a mental illness requiring a secure care environment.


Wolston Park Hospital is one of the largest psychiatric facilities in Australia. Significant institutional reform began, including the development of Integrated Mental Health Services; the re-organisation of in-patient services and assessment of patients aimed at rehabilitation; improvements in the management of resources (human and financial); the expansion of community health services. Planning and interim implementations began for sweeping changes to a new Tertiary Mental Health Facility at Wacol.


Construction began in December on the Wolston Park Hospital Redevelopment, to be known as The Park Centre for Mental Health Treatment, Research & Education.

Photo Gallery



Line drawing of The Lunatic Asylum, Woogaroo

Image: Vignettes of Colonial Psychiatry: a line drawing of The Lunatic Asylum, Woogaroo.



Female No. 3 Ward

Image: Even with new buildings such as the female no 3 ward, the additional accommodation barely matched the growth in patient numbers



Construction of new building in 1898

Image: New buildings emphasised active treatment, rather than passive 'custodial care'



Campus Grounds
Image: The Hospital ward, one of Ellerton's innovations, helped address the lack of specific facilities that offered medical or sugical attention.


Old Hospital

Image: The Hospital ward, one of Ellerton's innovations, helped address the lack of specific facilities that offered medical or sugical attention.


Photo: Ballie Henerson Hospital
Image: Other facilities, such as Baillie Henderson Hospital at Toowoomba (above) provide mental health services.



Old Water Tower
Image: The deconstruction of the old Water Tower, as approved by the EPA, symbolises old making way for the new.



GREENHILL, J (1996) Bedlam, Brisbane, Australia: Wolston Park Hospital, 1865-1937. in Covacevich, J, Pearn J et al (eds) History, Heritage and Health, Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Conference of the Australian Society of the History of Medicine. (The Australian Society of the History of Medicine: Brisbane).

Last Updated: 02 September 2005
Last Reviewed: 04 March 2006