A popular park in the north-east corner of Boroondara, Greythorn Park has a fascinating history, explored in the Greythorn Park, North Balwyn Interpretation Strategy of 2013. The strategy made recommendations for the interpretive signs now found within the park's grounds.
The land comprising what is now Greythorn Park, bounded by Frank, Robert and Alpha streets, North Balwyn, was originally owned by British merchant Henry Elgar who lived in the West Indies and used an agent to manage his Australian investments.
Described as being made up of 'open forest', 'grassy range' and 'fine pasture', this land changed hands multiple times before being purchased by the City of Camberwell in 1928. Another parcel of land was bought in 1952 to make up what is today known as Greythorn Park.
W R Maughan Wildlife Sanctuary
In 1939, William Maughan, a bank clerk with a love of animals, established a wildlife sanctuary in the area.
With proceeds from admission going primarily for the funds of the Royal District Nursing Society and After-care Hospital among other charities, the park had koalas, emus, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, wedge-tailed eagles and wombats. Later, an animal circus with monkeys, dogs and ponies was established.
In 1953 an emu absconded and was captured in a Canterbury backyard.
Early visitors were picked up from the tram terminus on the corner of Whitehorse and Union roads in Mont Albert by four-horse drag and paid a shilling entry, which included a posy of violets from the farm next door. After 1947 visitors caught a bus.
William Maughan moved his sanctuary to Queensland in 1953, claiming he was persecuted by Victorian authorities who forced him to reduce his animal numbers from more than 200 to 80 after a change of laws in 1948. The land was later subdivided into residential lots.
Learn more about the history of the area from the resources listed on our Research your local history page.
Greythorn Park interpretive signs
To commemorate and celebrate Greythorn Park's unique history, the City of Boroondara has installed two interpretive signs in the park. They provide historical context regarding Greythorn Park and wider Boroondara, and more specific details on William Maughan's fascinating Wild Life Sanctuary.
The signs were developed in collaboration with the passionate Friends of Greythorn Park group. They are located in the middle of the park (in between the two ovals).