On 5th November, 1884, the Little Sisters arrived in Melbourne. Six French Sisters and two English Sisters disembarked at Port Melbourne after a voyage of 6 weeks.
Their first home was two terraced houses where St. Vincent'’s hospital now stands. Within a few days they had admitted there first elderly lady. A few days later there was another arrival and from that time the work of the Little Sisters has never ceased to flourish in Melbourne.
It was soon apparent that a larger house was needed to accommodate the growing number of elderly.
In 1885 the property at Northcote was purchased, through the generosity of the people of Melbourne. There was a small farmhouse on the property, a three roomed weatherboard building of Baltic pine with a verandah on both sides. A Chapel, also in Baltic pine was built. The Sisters recorded that they enjoyed the sea breezes and had a view of Mount Macedon.
When this little family moved from Victoria Parade to Northcote, they were transported, free of charge, by the Fitzroy and Collingwood cabmen.
In 1888 a large building project began. Donations and other forms of generosity abounded.
When the first stage of the building was completed, ninety elderly people were admitted in eighteen days. By 1890 there were two hundred elderly people and by 1892 this had risen to 300. Many of these elderly people were victims of the gold rush era. They had not made their fortunes and were now homeless.
As the elderly and infirm increased in numbers, so too the numbers of Little Sisters needed to increase. Shortly after the original foundation, two more sisters came from France and the first Australian girl had entered the congregation. By 1886 six more young Australian girls had joined the ranks and by 1887 this had increased to nine.
Over the years, extensions were made to the hilltop building which can be seen from afar, a landmark of Northcote.
In the early 1980’s it was necessary to move with the times and to build a new, modern aged care facility. The Official Opening of the Nursing Home was in 1983 and the remainder of the building was opened in 1988.
The original farmhouse and chapel are preserved in our grounds. In their new setting, the past is joined to the present, and we are constantly reminded of the aspirations and efforts of the pioneers who had a vision and worked so hard to achieve it. Now, more than a century later, Mount Macedon has faded into a haze, the sea breezes have gradually disappeared, the fields have been covered with buildings and the pipe track has become the busy thoroughfare of St. Georges Road.
We are the custodians of that vision of our early pioneer Little Sisters as we strive to live and transmit the charism of St. Jeanne Jugan into today'’s world.
Foundation house and chapel