Our History

Beechworth Health Service has a long tradition of healthcare provision to the people of Beechworth and surrounding communities.

  • 1856 - 1860

  • The service came into being as a result of the amalgamation of two of the oldest hospitals in north-eastern Victoria and the inclusion of part of a third hospital, Mayday Hills. Initially, the Ovens District Hospital (Ovens Goldfields Hospital) was established to meet the acute health needs of the thriving mining town of Beechworth in 1856.

    Originally located in Church Street, it was the only hospital located between Melbourne and Goulburn, NSW. In 1940 it relocated to the current Sydney Road site.

  • 1861 - 1934

  • The establishment of the Ovens Benevolent Asylum on Warner Road was first mooted in 1861, when on the 22nd July a public meeting was held with the object of building a district Benevolent Asylum. The function of this Asylum was to provide accommodation and care for gold miners who were permanently injured, and for women and children who were penniless, homeless, or whose parents were guests of the State.

  • 1935 - 2001

  • In 1935, the name of the Benevolent Asylum was changed to Ovens Benevolent Home. In February 1973 the name was changed to Ovens Hospital for the Aged and in October 1974 the name was changed again, this time to Ovens and Murray Hospital for the Aged. On 17th August 1992 The Beechworth Hospital was formed as a result of the amalgamation of the Ovens District Hospital and the Ovens and Murray Hospital for the Aged.

    In 1995 the Health Service tendered for and won two Psychiatric Programs from the then closing Mayday Hills Hospital.

  • 2002 - 2004

  • Having changed its name again in 2002 to Beechworth Health Service the amalgamated organisation operated on two sites: extended care on the hill overlooking the township and acute care services at its Sydney Road campus.

  • 2005

  • Following an extensive building program in 2005 residential aged care, the acute hospital beds and community health were all relocated to Sydney Road.

  • WWI Nurses

  • Towards the end of 2011, Beechworth Health Service commissioned local and family historian, Anne Hanson, to research the stories of fifteen women, who had trained at the Ovens District Hospital prior to and during World War 1.

    The daughters of farmers, small business owners, school teachers, ministers of religion and public servants, they left the safety of their homeland to apply their considerable nursing skills and give comfort to the horrific and overwhelming casualties of the Great War.

    Our nurses served in hospitals in Egypt, Greece, England, France and India and on troop and hospital ships. In Greece they survived primitive living conditions, near starvation, freezing winters with inadequate clothing and in summer, swarms of malaria bearing mosquitoes. Cholera, paratyphoid and venomous snakes were all part of the Indian nursing experience. At Wimereaux near the Somme in France, they survived numerous bombing raids during the worst winter for nearly one hundred years.

    Those serving on troop and hospital ships lived with the threat of being torpedoed as well as coping with extreme unrelenting heat, that was physically and emotionally exhausting.

    To find out more: sites.google.com/site/ww1nursestrainedodhbeechworth