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Wooroloo Sanatorium (fmr)


Shire of Mundaring

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Linley Valley Rd Wooroloo

Location Details

Other Name(s)

Wooroloo Hospital, Wooroloo Training Centre
Wooroloo Prison Farm

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1915

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
Heritage List YES 08 Mar 2016
State Register Registered 30 Aug 2002 Register Entry
Assessment Documentation
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 22 Apr 1997 1 - Exceptional significance

1 - Exceptional significance

Rare or outstanding example; essential to the heritage of the locality Expectations: The place should be retained and conserved. Any alterations or extensions should reinforce the significance of the place and be in accordance with a Conservation Plan if one is in place.

Statement of Significance

The Wooroloo Prison/Sanatorium has very high aesthetic, social, historic and scientific cultural significance for the Shire of Mundaring and the State of Western Australia. It's setting, layout and design together with it's very good condition and authenticity give it very high aesthetic significance. The sanatorium's role in the treatment of tuberculosis, and later it's use as a prison all contribute to it's very high social, histoic and scientific significance. in addition, the extent and integrity of th site contributes to it's rarity and representatives as an example of sanatorium/hospital and an illustration of the tuberculosis health care philosphy from the earlier part of the 20th century.

Physical Description

The buildings of the Wooroloo Prison/Sanatorium are set out along curved tiers on the contours of the site sloping down to the oval and the valley to the east. The extent and integrity of the site is impressive as the dormitories radiate either side from the central core of buildings in the complex which form a backbone to the planning of the place. As the core buildings step down the hill they provide dining rooms, stores (former power-house ?), laundry, boiler-house, administration and recreation facilities. The hospital extends as a wing to the north and, separated at the ends of various wings, there are other individual buildings for such necessities as staff accommodation and, in an isolated location to the north, a mortuary. Further east down the valley, and some 500 metres or more away, are several concrete floor slabs and trees which are all that remains to mark the site of the former leprosarium.
The light coloured walls and green painted corrugated iron roofs provide a unity that compliments the setting and form of the site. Generally the walls of the buildings are reinforced concrete with an external exposed laterite aggregate, giving a stucco like appearance, whilst internally the walls are rendered smooth for health reasons. It appears only the Matron's House, north of the hospital, has retained its original 'off-form' natural colour where most other buildings have been painted externally in various pastel shades or white. Whilst the architectural style is simple, especially for the turn of the century 'Federation' period, the design is interesting for construction detailing which focuses on capturing breezes and keeping the buildings airy and cool. Verandas and large overhangs, supported on 'gallows' brackets, protect walls from the sun and arched openings at ground level around the perimeter of the buildings and verandas allow breezes to circulate under the buildings and cool them. The long runs of dormitories, housing up to 300 beds overall, follow a linear plan form, one room wide and strung out along access verandas. Originally the rooms had sections of openable timber framed walls to allow the full extent of the cooling and health giving breezes to pass through and give plenty of invigorating fresh air to patients. These walls have now been built in with windows and timber framing, clad with vertical T&G boarding and asbestos sheeting. Several dormitory wings have been modified in pragmatic ways over the years such as the replacement of timber windows with aluminium. Several free standing red brick, flat roofed toilet blocks have also been constructed just off the verandas and these could have been better integrated with rendering and pitched roofs. The centre of each dormitory wing is punctuated by a projecting half octagon room that were nursing station to service that wing of the sanatorium.
The hospital is located in a central wing running to the north beyond which are the separate Superintendent's and Matron's houses, and further on, the old mortuary. Also to the north, and higher up the hill, is a derelict timber framed, weatherboard and asbestos building, built c 1950's and probably providing nurses quarters or the like. The eight bed hospital still provides services to the surrounding district as well as the prison and is administered by the Board of the Swan Districts Hospital. The building housing the hospital was built later (late 1930's?) than the rest of the complex and may have replaced an earlier building or took over from a smaller building in the central core. Its external brick appearance and weatherboard/asbestos veranda enclosures contrast with the concrete material of the original complex. Internally it is very plain and austere, probably having been 'updated' over the years. The nearby 'Matron's House' is a large 'L' shaped residence with a front veranda terminating against a projecting room. The external appearance of the house retains the original earthy tones of the unpainted laterite aggregate concrete walls. Elsewhere, walls have generally been painted and the original colourings have been lost. It is important that the walls of the 'Matron's House' remain unpainted to illustrate the original materials and colouring of the complex. The house also demonstrates the arched ventilation openings at the base of the walls around the perimeter of the house to cool the underfloor of the building. Internally the front rooms of the house are relatively decorative with high ceilings featuring timber fireplace surrounds, picture rails, deep cornices and ceiling roses.
The nearby Superintendant's house, with painted pastel yellow walls, was not inspected but appears to be in similar style but somewhat larger. Further tot he north the mortuary is located on a site isolated from the rest of the complex. It is a small two roomed building with very tall walls and highlights windows (originally glazed with obscure glass of which only the fragments remain).
The upper tier of core buildings, forming the backbone to the layout, have several large, tall structures, (not inspected internally). One is now used as a staff "club" from which recreation, dining and localised administration may have previously functioned. The middle tier is dominated by the laundry, boiler house and maintenance buildings which are tall, open, utilatarian buildings with exposed roof trusses and skylights. Behind the laundry is the "Stores" building set into the side of the hill and backed with laterite retaining wall at the rear and weatherboard infill at the front. Several pairs of large scale double access doors have also been infilled and internally there is a relatively close grid of timber columns supporting the roof. There are machinery service pits in the floor, and it is thought that the building was previously a garage. The age of the complex would suggest they could have been stables originally. Alternatively, as electrical transformers are today located behind (and above) the retaining wall of the 'Store', the building may have been the former power house. It is in a central location which is ideal for the distribution of power.
The administration building is on the second lowest tier and has a formal entry from the lower east side with a flight of steps sweeping up to an entry portico. A decorative pediment is supported each side of the entry by four timber posts with simple brackets and detailing. The entry portico leads to a half octagonal reception are projecting from the centre of the administration wing much like the form of the dormitory wings but on a larger scale. Externally the entry provides one of the few elements on the site that outwardly establishes the 'Federation Free Style' character of the period in which the complex was built. Below the Administration building on the lowest tier and overlooking the oval is the Recreation Hall. According to the foundation stone, it was built in 1922, by a benevolent society of the day "The Ugly Men's Voluntary Workers Association of WAS Inc.". The Hall varies from other buildings in having been constructed later and appearing to have been designed independently. It is of brick construction with panels of stucco rendered walls at each end anmd with continuous double hung, six paned windows between roof support columns down each side. The entry and small projection room form an attachment on the west end. The internal space of the hall has an unusual form created by a ceiling vault following a curved line on the underside of the timber trusses. The ceiling material is a painted flat sheet material, possibly not original, and the curved form is carried through to the arched proscenium over the raised stage at the east end of the hall.
The only other significant building on the site is what is now the Education Centre of Mitchell House, named after the first Chief Residential Medical Officer. It is separated from the rest of the buildings and is located off the end of the south-west wing. The spacious house rises above the ground level at the front and has a sweeping set of steps leading to the entry on the verandah. It has verandahs n the east and north under a large corrugated iron, hipped roof with a series of gambrel ends. The front of the roof is dominated by a projecting, semi-enclosed attic type sun room or look-out with timber posts and shutters. Access is gained from the entry hall via a large jarrah staircase of a scale indicating that it provides access to more significant first floor accommodation than just a look-out.
The detailing of the stair balusters incorporates an unusual motive possibly art-nouveau origins. The walls if the house are painted reinforced concrete textures aggregate and the window openings have a decorative rendered surround. Internally the front rooms are very large with provisions to open up two of the rooms through folding timber doors. The front rooms have picture rails, high ceilings and decorative cornices and ceiling roses. large fireplaces with detailed timber surrounds dominate the formal rooms.
The less formal rooms are to the rear and, whilst still comparatively large, are more simply finished and detailed. The back of the house is virtually at ground level giving direct access to what originally would have been a separate external kitchen pavilion.
A bushfire in January 1997, burnt out various buildings but there has been no further assessment by the consultants.


A sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis ("T.B."), or consumption as it was also known, was built in the relative isolation of Wooroloo and, officially opened on 1st May 1915. The place was also referred to as the Wooroloo Lazaret. Prior to the sanatorium's completion at Wooroloo, a site had been temporarily reserved in c. 1904, at Mahogany Creek. In 1910, an attempt was made to set aside land for a sanatorium at Chidlow's Wells, on part of the Government Railway's water supply reserve, part of which was later Lake Leschenaultia (Site 200). The negative response that; "it may be the means of spreading disease to the public through the water supply", reflected general disquiet about the disease and probably accounts for why, along with the perceived restorative qualities of the hills air, it was finally located in Wooroloo. The presence of a small number of leprosy patients (some 6 in 1936), isolated from each other and the "T.B." patients, was possibly a source of concern to the local population. Objections to the presence of lepers in the sanatorium is evidenced in letters to the 'West Australian' in September and October 1936, claiming it was ruining the district, and reducing property values. The local Undertaker, Mr. Bullen, was said to consider burying the dead patients a health hazard, warranting extra payment.
In c. 1912, the sanatorium buildings were designed under the auspices of the Public Works Department Chief Architect Hillson Beasley. He worked in conjunction with various District Medical Officers, including Wooroloo's first Chief Residential Medical Officer, Dr. R.M. Mitchell, formerly of the Coolgardie Sanatorium. Work began in mid 1913. Locally quarried and crushed stone was used to make the reinforced concrete buildings, whose smooth finished interior walls and floors allowed effective disinfection procedures.
Patients were segregated according to gender, and the severity of their case. The open fronted 10 bed wards, orientated north and east, were designed to maximize patient fresh air and sunlight. As well as providing for male and female staff, there were buildings to house administration, a laboratory, operating room, kitchen, dining room, billiard room, and a school for younger patients. In addition, the sanatorium had its own laundry, bakery, and power-house, making it a relatively self-contained operation. Building materials not produced on site arrived from the Wooroloo siding, via a temporary tramway.
Built to house 300 patients (200 male and 100 female), there were initially only 80 patients, many of them ex-miners from the Eastern Goldfields. From the late 1930's, Wooroloo was used as a preliminary 6-8 week training school for both male and female trainee nurses. Until the 1944 discovery of Streptomycin, rest, fresh air and good food were the only hope for T.B. patients. Many of them ended up in the nearby Wooroloo Cemetery (Site 210). With improved treatment, compulsory diagnostic chest x-rays and development in the late 1950's, of the Perth Chest Hospital, Wooroloo became a District Hospital, with a maternity section from 1962. Patients with multiple sclerosis, stroke and paraplegic victims and alcoholics were also referred there until its controversial closure in 1970. From then until the present day, the buildings house minimum security prisoners.
Newspaper reports, following bushfires in January 1997, recorded that several buildings had been damaged but the extent has not been further investigated by the consultants.


Integrity: Very High- despite adaption from sanatorium to hospital and now prison.
Modifications: Various adaptions to suit changing needs of different uses but generally unobtrusive.


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
MHHS File; "Wooroloo".
v Hobbs; "But Westward Look: Nursing in Western Australia 1829-1979". UWA Press 1980
MHHS File; "Chidlow".
I Elliot; ibid pp.153-154, 163, 168, 174-175, 198-199, 206-207, 247-249, 254.271-272, ref. p.275

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
5726 Wooroloo Sanatorium (fmr) (Wooroloo Prison) : conservation plan. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 2002
6062 Shedule of conservation works for the former Secretary and Dispenser's Quarters (Brambley Hedge), 29 Swimming Pool Road, Wooroloo Sanatorium (fmr) (Wooroloo Prison). Conservation works report 2002
5368 Wooroloo Sanatorium (fmr) : heritage assessment. Heritage Study {Other} 2001
6405 Archival record for 14 staff cottages : Wooroloo Sanatorium (fmr) (Wooroloo prison). Archival Record 2002

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Present Use HEALTH Housing or Quarters
Original Use HEALTH Housing or Quarters
Original Use HEALTH Hospital

Architectural Styles

Federation Queen Anne
Federation Arts and Crafts

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other TIMBER Other Timber
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron
Wall BRICK Rendered Brick
Wall RENDER Smooth
Wall ASBESTOS Fibrous Cement, flat
Wall RENDER Roughcast
Other CONCRETE Other Concrete

Historic Themes

General Specific
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Community services & utilities

Creation Date

18 Jun 1997

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

10 Feb 2017


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.