Abandoned hospitals of Melbourne

When asked to picture a hospital, most people would visualise a massive building filled with doctors and patients. However if one takes a walk around the Melbourne suburb of Parkville, you will find three hospitals that are only inhabited by security guards.

The first of Melbourne’s abandoned hospital is the former Royal Dental Hospital, located opposite the Haymarket roundabout on the corner of Flemington Road and Royal Parade. Opened in 1963, the cream brick and aluminium curtain walled building is a typical example of hospital architecture of the period, despite the plans having been drawn up a decade earlier. Decommissioning of the former Royal Dental Hospital came in 2003, when it moved to a new site on Swanston Street, opposite Melbourne University.

Main entry onto Flemington Road

As for the empty building, it remained empty and contaminated with asbestos until December 2008, when the State Government announced they would spend $10.5 million to demolish the building, making way for the Parkville Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Demolition commenced in February 2010 with the building gone by June 2010.

Service entry off Flemington Road, demolition work commenced

The next hospital in Melbourne to be abandoned was the Royal Women’s. Located on the corner of Swanston and Grattan Street in Carlton, the hospital has operated on this site since 1858, with the main block seen today having admitted their first patients in 1968, with the official opening of the ‘3AW Community Service Board Block’ coming in 1972.

Former Royal Women's Hospital on Swanston Street, Melbourne

Replacement of the Royal Women’s was announced in 2005, with the hospital to be rebuilt down the street on a new site beside the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Flemington Road. The new site opened in 2008, with the former hospital site in Carlton having sat empty since that time, the future of the site being unknown.

Abandoned foyer of the former Royal Women's Hospital

2011 saw the creation of Melbourne’s third abandoned hospital: the former Royal Children’s on Flemington Road. Opened on the Parkville site beside Royal Park in 1963, plans for a new hospital on a site next door to the existing one were announced in 2005.

Flemington Road frontage of the former Royal Children's Hospital

Construction work on the new Royal Children’s commenced in 2007, with the new site opening in late 2011. Currently empty, the majority of the old hospital will be demolished and the site returned to the parklands, the exception being two of the newer buildings – the entrance foyer on Flemington Road, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute building beside it.

Signage outside the former Royal Children's Hospital

All up, three brand new hospitals have opened in Melbourne in less than a decade, with three old ones having been closed. Initially I thought “why spend millions building replacements for existing hospitals when we can’t even pay nurses properly”, but when I consider the topic it a little more, a 50 year old building was never designed for modern health care practices, and would be rather depressing for patients.


I finally found a photo of the old Royal Dental Hospital, it was taken by Flickr user ‘Fluoride’ in 2006:


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26 Responses to “Abandoned hospitals of Melbourne”

  1. Chris Gordon says:

    Your comment about a new hospitals costing millions and old hospitals being depressing for patients bonds well with me. My daughter was born at the old Women’s and only about 10 days before it closed. My son was born almost 2 years later at the new hospital, a much better hospital. The new hospital is however a bit smaller as also in that time a maternity wing was opened at some hospital our west (Sunshine maybe?) which in theory reduced the load, however bit of a baby boom cancelled that out pretty quickly. I also understand that after time hospitals get to a point where they can’t be cleaned and get viruses running around that you can’t just get rid of, so refurbishment is more costly then just replacing it.

    Also the Women’s hospital includes the Frances Perry Private Hospital, so it’s really two hospitals in one.

    • Marcus says:

      Another thing to keep in mind with older hospitals is how the nature of patient expectations has changed. Back in the 1960s curtains around each patient in 8 bed ward was normal, while today people want privacy, with many willing to fork out the $$$ to get a room to themselves in a private hospital.

      One could argue that if the government is funding your hospital stay you should take whatever you are given, but as a whole what the population expects has changed over the past 50 years.

      • NEFISE says:

        I feel so sad that the nostalgic memories goes with the demolitions of the old hospitals. My two daughters were born in the old Royal Women’s Hospital and every time I was passing by that building I was having memories of the moments my babies were born. Can’t they renovate instead of demolishing them!

  2. Matt says:

    Few things, the new building on the old dental hospital site is now called the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC).

    While the new Royal Children’s Hospital is open that was just the first “stage”. Now that patients have been decanted renovations on portions of the newer sections of the old hospital can commence and the remaining portions will be demolished and reclaimed as parkland.

    The old Women’s hospital is currently being harvested for parts such as generators and chillers etc that still have useful life. It wouldn’t surprise me if Melbourne University purchase the land that the old Women’s hospital is on in the near future.


  3. RabidLeroy says:

    Between you and me and everyone interested in the medical and anatomical aspects, I was just thinking they should do Melbourne a health related favor and construct (or get started on) a health, well being, anatomical and medical museum. Just one little gaping hole wanting to be filled in Melbourne’s hospital district. ;3

  4. Tim says:

    “Fun with asbestos” is also a feature of older buildings.

    This was in Preston also

    • Marcus says:

      Ah – PANCH on Bell Stret – the old Preston & Northcote Community Hospital. They turned that into student apartments, plus a big hotel and convention centre.

  5. […] the former Royal Children’s Hospital building in a blog post last year titled ‘Abandoned hospitals of Melbourne‘ – so what has come of the […]

  6. Dexx says:

    A couple of other old hospitals to be demolished in the past few decades were the Queen Victoria which is now the QV Centre in the city, and the other was Prince Henry’s in St Kilda Rd which got merged with Monash Medical Centre in Clayton. The Prince Henry’s site now has a large apartment building on it.

  7. Paul Jerome O'CONNOR says:

    Marcus, interesting article on the abandoned hospitals of Melbourne. I was wondering what had become of the Royal Women’s site. I would really like to explore that building at some stage.

  8. […] of the above photos were taken from atop the former Royal Women’s Hospital car park at the corner of Grattan and Cardigan […]

  9. […] Abandoned since 2003 when the hospital moved around the corner to Carlton. […]

  10. […] The Brookes-Gillespie Home for Nurses was opened by Premier of Victoria, Henry Bolte in 1960, and was located at 740 Swanston Street in Carlton, next door to the former Royal Women’s Hospital. […]

  11. […] former Royal Dental Hospital had also been turned into a big […]

  12. […] A decade ago Melbourne was full of abandoned hospitals. […]

  13. Stone Lin says:

    Brookes Gillespie House, next to Univ Melb. I lived there for half of a year in 2000, many stories, and memories, I miss my friends there. When we moved out of it, they started tearing buildings down around. My son was named after that building, Brooks.

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