Heritage Festival

Heritage Festival 2021 Events

Willows Homestead Open Day

Picture of the Willows Homestead

When: Wednesdays and Sundays, 1 - 4pm and Saturday 24 April, 1-4pm
Cost: Gold coin donation
Where: 76 Reserve Road, Melton

The Willows is an 1850s homestead constructed of rendered stone rubble and mud mortar, on the banks of the Toolern Creek.  The Melton and District Historical Society will be opening their collections and the homestead during the festival.

For further information please contact the Melton and District Historical Society on 0409 306 640 or via email meltonhistoricalsocietyinc@gmail.com


Guided Tour of ‘Melbourne’s most joyful set of postmodern structures’ - former Mowbray College

Mowbray College.jpg

When: Saturday 1 May, 9am, 10:30am, 12:30pm & 2pm
Where: 102 Centenary Avenue, Kurunjang (access and parking via Gate 4 on Centenary Avenue)
Cost: Free, however bookings are required

The former Mowbray College was an independent community school established by Melton residents in 1983, only a decade after Melton had been declared Melbourne’s first satellite city.  The school closed in 2012 and in 2014 the complex of buildings at the Kurunjang campus was included on the Victorian Heritage Register. The buildings received several major architectural awards at the time and their architect, Norman Day went on to become an influential post-modern architect and critic.

Heathdale Christian College have generously opened their doors for this guided tour which will be led by architectural historian and Mowbray alumni, Guy Murphy. Each tour will run for approximately an hour.


Discover the ruins of the historic Rockbank Inn & Pop-up mini museum

Rockbank Inn

When: Saturday 1 May  - Tours will run for around 20 minutes between 12pm & 4pm 
Where: Aintree Reserve (Aintree Boulevard, Aintree) 
Cost: Free, however bookings are required - Places are limited.

An exciting archaeological dig is set to take place at the historic Rockbank Inn site, in Aintree. To mark the occasion, guided tours to the site will take place with the archaeologists. The archaeological dig, overseen by Heritage Victoria, is expected to uncover thousands of artefacts dating back to the 1840s and will be one of only a handful of gold rush hotel sites ever excavated. 

Pop-up museum

The museum will feature key artefacts uncovered during the archaeological dig of the Rockbank Inn, and be accessible for the community to visit.

The pop-up museum will be on the site for the community to explore and interact with from 1 May - 11 May 2021.  The pop up museum will be self guided on week days, with staff on site weekends for the duration.


Researching Aboriginal Family History Workshop

Possum Skin Family Story.jpg

When: Friday 17 May, 9:30am - 12:30pm
Where: Online Workshop via Zoom
Cost: Free, however bookings are required.

A workshop on the unique set of challenges posed in researching Aboriginal family history with speakers from:

Koorie Heritage Trust - Koorie Family History Service
State Library of Victoria - Koorie Heritage Unit
Public Records Office of Victoria and National Archives of Australia - Koorie Records Unit
Hosted by Peter Webster, Kirrip Aboriginal Corporation

Topics covered will include:

  • How to get started
  • Tips on staying organised
  • Overview of what useful records are available
  • Researching names & places
  • Services and resources for Aboriginal family history research

The Lonely Grave Investigation: Ellen Batman & her Sisters at Toolern Vale 

Photo Ellen Batman's Grave Site

When: Available via the Melton City Libraries catalogue
Where: Online Video
Cost: Free

There are many lonely graves on properties from the time before the Melton cemetery opened in 1861. However the best known is the “forgotten girl who sleeps in the wooded folds of the Green Hills” at Toolern Vale.

Although the person whose remains lie in the grave is thought to have been a young woman who died in the 1840s, her identity remains a mystery. The oldest and most enduring story is that it contains the remains of Ellen Batman, daughter of John Batman. Ellen was one of seven daughters of John Batman, a notorious and divisive personality in the history of Victoria and his ex-convict wife, Eliza. In researching the Batman women, Michelle Berry, a University of Tasmania historian, has found that violence and insecurity plagued the lives of these colonial women. Three of the daughters, Eliza, Adelaide and Ellen ended up in Toolern Vale at the properties of John Aitken and the Collyer brothers and Ellen died at Greenhills Station in 1851. Their mother was murdered in Geelong in 1852.

This talk will discuss the history of the Batman women and their relationships, and the difficulties faced by ‘women without means’, in colonial society


Tour of Melton Cemetery

Photo of Melton Cemetery

When: Available via the Melton City Libraries catalogue
Where: Online Video
Cost: Free

The Melton Family History Group’s popular cemetery tour is online this year. Come and hear the fascinating stories of those who walked our streets before us – both famous and infamous. Learn about Donald MacKintosh the world champion Olympian once mentioned in the same breath as Don Bradman, Hannah Watts the midwife who helped birth 450 children and the extraordinary headstone carved by a bereaved husband of young Annie Scott. We must never forget that people, aged and young have made their significant pathway through our history and their gravestones recall to mind stories of that contribution.


Heartbreak at Rockbank Sheep Station

Rockbank Station Colorized.jpg

When: Available via the Melton City Libraries catalogue
Where: Online Video
Cost: Free

Heartbreak at Rockbank Sheep Station talk by Janeen O'Connell. A Family History Month event with Melton City Libraries hosted online. The life of dashing James McAra Mitchel was full of secrets adventures, politics, death, pioneer challenges, an insane asylum admission, bankruptcy as well as the occasional happy story to tell. Mitchel's descendant and author Janeen O’Connell will reveal the secrets uncovered in the journey to learn more about him, and importantly, his contribution to the Melton district. She’ll show how she discovered this hidden gem in through her family history research.


Heritage Festival

The Heritage Festival is an annual celebration of all things history and heritage in the City of Melton. It is held during the Australian Heritage Festival each year.  For more information visit the National Trust Heritage Festival website.

The City Strategy Team co-ordinates the Heritage Festival programming, but it is the community who has stepped up to lead walks, talks and share the research which contribute to our understanding of this municipality. Please contact us with your ideas for future events.

For further information on Heritage Week please contact our City Strategy Team on 9747 7200 or email us at citysupport@melton.vic.gov.au