Our history

front view of historic homestead

The site was originally part of a 51-acre site first purchased from the crown in 1852 by pioneer Henry Stooke.

Stooke was a prominent citizen in the Eltham district. He was actively involved in the development of infrastructure and recreational services in the Eltham area. 

The subsequent owner was Thomas Cool, manager of the Victorian Coffee Palace, which adjoined the Town Hall in Collins Street, Melbourne. Cool purchased the site in 1896 and built the homestead in the same year.

This weatherboard homestead was unusual for its ornate finishes and decoration compared with other farmhouses of the district, see our photo gallery

History of property ownership from 1922:

1922 - Thomas Cool sold the property to John William Cox
1933 - John William Cox sold the property to the Gaston Family
1968 - Elizabeth Gaston sold the property to Douglas Mummery
1970 - Douglas Mummery sold the property to the Shire of Eltham.

The Shire of Eltham purchased the property in 1970, establishing an animal pound and small nursery. Council came to realise the potential of the site in the early 1980s when the decision was made to relocate the animal pound.

During the late 1980s a number of changes were made to the site to establish the area as a community farm for local residents. Since 2000, the direction of the site has been transformed into a Community Environmental Education Centre featuring an Indigenous Plant Nursery and a vibrant Schools Environmental Education program .

The heritage homestead has been beautifully restored using funding from Heritage Victoria, the Federal Government and Council.

In 2011, following the construction of three new buildings and the restoration of the heritage homestead, Living & Learning Nillumbik began to run nationally-recognised children’s services courses from Edendale. Other training courses are also run by Living & Learning Nillumbik in other Edendale buildings.

Recent developments have seen work in the gardens and grounds to increase accessibility for the community, additional shelters, lush lawn areas and an amphitheatre for public use, festivals and events

Improvements on the animal zone on the eastern side of the property, with a purpose-built goat house and milking area, a hay and storage shed and  new  paddock areas and fencing has improved animal viewing areas for visitors and provided better access for school groups and farm tour activities.