On this page:
- St Mary’s is currently occupied by the Sophia Mundi Steiner School. From 1911 until 1975 St Mary’s operated as a boarding school, where girls from middle class rural families and daughters of families arriving in Melbourne from Europe were sent to live and to be educated.
- The Mercator building contains studio spaces for artists, jewellers, ceramicists, industrial designers and other hard-arts practitioners.Mercator formerly housed part of the laundries that the Sisters of the Good Shepherd ran as their major source of income. The building was known as the ‘back laundry’.
- The vast Sacred Heart area awaits funds to bring its interior spaces into contemporary use. Currently derelict, the spaces will one day house creative and cultural organisations, artisan studios, galleries and retail spaces. Sacred Heart previously housed a community of girls and women who worked in the adjacent laundries (also known as the Magdalen Asylum).
- This English Oak was planted in 1851 by Edward Curr, in the gardens of his home, St Heliers House. Curr was known as the Father of Separation. The tree commemorated the creation of the separate State of Victoria.
- St Anne’s requires funding to be restored but in future the building will offer a food store/provedore and/or restaurant. St Anne’s was formerly a domestic cooking school run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to provide girls and women skills for life beyond the Convent walls.
- The ACF is raising funds to restore the Sacred Heart Laundries. The Laundries will eventually be gallery, performance and film spaces.The Laundries (also known as the Magdalen Asylum) were operated by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd as a major income source. Laundry from city hotels, hospitals, private homes and even the Navy was bought to the Abbotsford Convent.
- The Industrial School offers pop up events, exhibitions and installations.The Industrial School provided learning opportunities for neglected, orphaned or abandoned children at the Abbotsford Convent. Built in 1868, it is the oldest surviving building within the Convent grounds.
- The Gate 2 car park is a drop off/pick up zone with only short term parking allowed. All day parking is available at the car park in St Heliers Street for the flat rate of $6 per day.
- The former Workshop requires funds for restoration. The unique facade is a remnant of a movie partially shot at the Convent about the World War Two resistance fighter Nancy Wake, AKA The White Mouse.
- The Providence building houses the Abbotsford Convent Foundation, Interact Australia and the Wurundjeri Tribe Land & Compensation Cultural Heritage Council. Providence was formerly a finishing school for girls to learn the skills considered necessary to earn a living. A carriage house on the ground level contained a fleet of horse drawn carts that were used by the Convent to pick up and delivery laundry.
- Gate 1 is for pedestrian, bicycle and emergency access. Please keep clear at all times.
- The Rosina building contains numerous halls and dormitories that are available for hire. A ground floor refectory and associated kitchen is ideal for weddings and parties. A large Auditorium is available for short term hire for workshops, classes or rehearsals. The first floor dormitories are available for longer term hire for the rehearsal and development of creative projects. Rosina formerly housed older women who were separated from the younger girls.
- The Capital City Trail allows pedestrian and bicycle access to the Convent grounds between 8am – 3pm, Mon - Fri.
- The ground floor rooms of the Convent building are available for hire for meetings, conferences and community events. The St Heliers Street Store and Gallery sells and exhibits the work of the Convent artists and serves a range of food and beverages from Tuesday to Sunday. Levels 1 & 2 of the Convent building contain artists’ studios, creative organisations and wellbeing practitioners. As you wander the corridors please respect the tenants’ need to work quietly and privately. The Basement contains the c3 Contemporary Artspace exhibiting the work of local and visiting contemporary artists. The Convent building was known as the ‘Mother House’ of the Good Shepherd Order in Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti. It housed up to 150 nuns and included their cells and dormitories, a library, community-gathering rooms, a refectory and various reception parlours.
- The Kitchen Annexe contains three cafes and one bar. The Convent Bakery and Boiler Bar is open 7am – 5pm daily. Kappaya Japanese Soul Food is open 10am – 4pm, Wed – Sun. Lentil as Anything is open 9am – 9pm daily. The Annexe provided all of the food for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and the community of up to 1000 girls and women who lived at the Convent.
- St Euphrasia is where the community classical radio station 3MBS is based. The building formerly operated as a day school where the Sisters of the Good Shepherd provided schooling for the children of the local community.
- The River Red Gum at Gate 1 predates white settlement and is the oldest tree on the site.
- The Good Shepherd Chapel is still owned and managed by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and is available for use by arrangement with the Good Shepherd organisation.
- The Holm Oak (or Turkish Oak) and the English Oak located near the Clarke Street entrance are thought to survive from the gardens of Abbotsford House, the property that was purchased by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd upon their arrival in Melbourne in 1863.
- The Clarke Street Gate is for pedestrian and bicycle access and is open 8am – 3pm, Mon – Fri. This was the former main entrance to the site with ease of access to the Bishop’s Parlour where the Mother Superior met with invited guests and the Visitors Parlour where the families of the nuns would come for tea and cake.
- Horses from the neighbouring Collingwood Children’s Farm currently graze in The French Meadow. This plot provided the fruit and vegetable needs of the Good Shepherd Community and formed part of a larger farm that accommodated their poultry and livestock needs.
- St Mary
- Sacred Heart
- Seperation Tree
- St Anne's
- Sacred Heart Laundries
- Industrial School
- Gate Two
- Former Workshop
- Gate One
- Capital City Trail
- St Euphrasia
- River Red Gum
- Holm Oak
- Clarke Street Gardens
- French Meadows
The Abbotsford Convent is open 365 days a year and entry is free except between 8am – 1pm on the fourth Saturday of every month when a $2 charge applies for entry to the Slow Food Farmers’ Market.
The Convent is a pedestrian only zone. All vehicles can park for limited periods for free in St Heliers Street, or for $6 per vehicle in the car park (all day) accessible from St Heliers Street. Gold coins are required, payable upon entry.
Buses may not enter St Heliers Street. There is a dedicated bus parking zone on Johnston Street, fifty metres East of the corner of Clarke Street.
A cash point is located on the ground floor corridor of the east wing of the Convent building, accessible via the pedestrian ramp directly to the right of the Convent Bakery. A withdrawal limit of $200 per transaction applies.
A baby change facility and disabled toilet exists within the public toilets of the Convent Annex.
All visitors to the Abbotsford Convent are required to observe the following:
- The Convent site is a pedestrian zone;
- Dogs are welcome to accompany their owners onto the grounds and gardens of the Convent site but must be kept on a leash at all times and droppings must be picked up and removed. Other than guide dogs, animals are not permitted within the interior of any of the Convent buildings;
- Children are to remain under supervision at all times;
- All rubbish must be taken with you when you leave;
- The picking of foliage or playing in the garden beds is not permitted;
- During summer months snakes, lizards, bees and wasps are present in the garden. Please be respectful of our native wildlife;
- The use of candles, incense or fire of any kind is strictly prohibited throughout the site;
- Alcohol purchased from licensed premises at the Convent must not be consumed beyond the bounds of those premises
Visitors enter the site at their own risk. The Abbotsford Convent Foundation will not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage or injury to persons or property incurred whilst in site. By entering the site, you agree to abide by these conditions.
The Convent site is open every day of the year from 7.30am - 10pm. The various food and beverage outlets, WellBeing practitioners and arts & cultural activities operate varying times throughout the year. Although the Convent is a thriving cultural hub, our artists, practitioners and creative organisations prefer to carry out their work in private. You can meet the artists and view and discuss their work at our annual Open Day or view and purchase their work at the St Heliers Street Store + Gallery. Some studios are open to the public or via appointment at certain times. Contact details for the artists and organisations are listed within the portals here. Please confirm specific opening times directly with these tenants or call the Abbotsford Convent Foundation on 03 9415 3600.
By train: Victoria Park station on the Epping and Hurstbridge lines is the closest railway station to the Abbotsford Convent. Please note that some services express past Victoria Park station. Once out of the station and on Johnston St, walk east (away from the City) down Johnston St for around 12 minutes to Clarke St. Turn right into Clarke Street (the last right before the Yarra) and left into St Heliers St. The main entrance to Abbotsford Convent is on the right of St Heliers St before you reach the Collingwood Children’s farm.
Alternatively, the bus can be caught from Victoria Park Station down Johnston St rather than walk down Johnston St from the station. The bus details are below.
For further information please call Metlink on 131 638
By tram: Catch any tram down Victoria St Abbotsford/Richmond and get off at Nicholson St Abbotsford (or Lennox St Richmond). Walk north up Nicholson St all the way to Abbotsford St and turn right. At the end of Abbotsford St turn left into Clarke St and then right into St Heliers St. This is a 20-25 minute walk.
For further information please call Metlink on 131 638
By bus: From the City- the 200 City to Doncaster Shoppingtown/ Bulleen, The 201 City to Doncaster Shoppingtown/ Bulleen, and the 207 City to Doncaster Shoppingtown/ Donvale depart from Melbourne Central/ Lonsdale St in the city, run along Lygon St, Elgin St then Johnston St. Alight at Clarke Street bus stop (before Johnston Street crosses the Yarra). Turn right at Clarke St then turn left into St Heliers St. The 205 Melbourne University to Doncaster Shoppingtown begins at Melbourne University then proceeds down Elgin and Johnston St and pasts Clarke St.
For further information please call Ventura Buses on (03) 9488 2100, or call Metlink on 131 638
By car: The Abbotsford Convent is located at the end of St. Heliers St, Abbotsford. The easiest way to get here is to go via Johnston St then onto Clarke St then into St Heliers St (See MELWAYS Ref 44 G5).
All day parking is available in the carpark opposite the site on St Heliers St for $6 (gold coins are required). There is also a limited amount of free parking spaces on the street.
Parking in the neighboring streets is mainly residential permit only on weekends.
There is absolutely no vehicular access on the Abbotsford Convent site.
For more information see Melways Ref 44 G5, Whereis.com and maps.google.com.au
By bike or foot: The Capital City cycling and walking path passes the site. St Heliers St turn-off is opposite the entrance to the Collingwood Childrens Farm.
Coaches and Tour Buses: There is no vehicular access to the Convent site. Buses should either pick up/set down in Johnston Street or the south end of Clarke Street (accessible from Abbotsford Street only), where they must also park. Buses should not enter St Heliers Street nor linger in the residential section of Clarke Street.
The Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) is committed to improving access within the Convent precinct for everyone. If people have access requirements, staff will be happy to assist as far as possible.
The ACF acknowledges that there are access challenges inherent in the Convent’s heritage buildings and gardens. A Disability Action Plan is in development to address opportunities to enhance access (including site signage), as funding permits.
View the access and mobility map of the Abbotsford Convent precinct here
Guide/assistance dogs are welcome throughout the Abbotsford Convent grounds and buildings. (All dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.)
The following accessible parking spaces are available for use by holders of a Disabled Persons’ Parking Permit:
• One two-hour accessible on-street parking space is located on St Heliers St, beside Gate 1.
• Four accessible parking places are located within the car park on the northern side of St Heliers St ($6 gold coin entry fee; all day). Please note that kerb drops between the car park and the Convent entrances may pose difficulties for people with mobility impairments.
• Two 15-minute (30 minutes to Category 1 permit holders) accessible parking places are located within the short-term parking area just inside Gate 2). Please note these spaces are available only on weekdays between 7.30 am and 10.30 pm (The boundary gates to the Convent precinct are locked outside of these hours).
The ACF is able to offer limited access to a wheelchair Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm, by prior arrangement.
The ACF is a partner to the national RECHARGE scheme. Accessible power points are available for people to recharge the battery in their motorised wheelchairs, scooters or bikes. The power points are located externally, on the western side of the Providence Building, just to the left of the ACF office door. (Please note that during markets the power points may be in use by stall holders.)
Bicycle racks are located onsite between Gate 1 and St Euphrasia (3MBS radio station), and bicycle hoops are located on the southern side of St Euphrasia and the northern side of the Rosina Building (near Lentil as Anything). Please use these facilities and always lock your bicycle.
Companion Card promotes the right of people with a disability, who require a companion, to fair ticketing at Victorian events and venues. The ACF encourages its event venue hirers to become affiliates of the Companion Card scheme. The ACF itself does not generally produce ticketed events; however, it commits to affiliating with the Companion Card scheme should it produce any ticketed events in the future. For more information, see http://www.companioncard.org.au/.
No audio loops are installed in the Convent’s hire venues. The use of PA systems is not encouraged due to noise sensitivity issues within the buildings (which also house many working creative practitioners). Suitable hearing augmentation systems such as Listen FM can be hired externally.
Convent Building: The external ground floor doors to this building require manual operation and are relatively heavy. All public and tenanted areas within the Convent Building are wheelchair accessible. A lift is located near the internal staircase of the south-west wings. Please note the lift is small and only accommodates smaller-sized wheelchairs and there is no turning circle within the lift. It does not have tactile buttons or audio cues.
For wheelchair access to the balcony area of Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshment; a portable ramp is available on request to bar staff.
For wheelchair access to c3 Contemporary Art Space, press the access-signed buzzer on the eastern door to trigger gallery attendants to open the accessible side door to the space. C3’s opening hours are listed on the Abbotsford Convent website. For assistance, please call 03 9416 4300.
Mercator: Studios MG1, MG2, MG5, MG6 and MG9 are wheelchair accessible. There is currently no lift to the studios on the first floor (MF1 to MF5).
Providence: All ground floor areas are wheelchair accessible. There is no lift to the first floor offices.
Rosina: With the exception of the stage and backstage area in the Auditorium, all function and venue hire spaces within Rosina are wheelchair accessible. A lift provides access to all levels of the building. This lift has tactile buttons and audio voice cues.
St Euphrasia (3MBS): Wheelchair access is via the southern doors, and assistance for entry is required. All ground floor areas, including production and recording studios, library and volunteer facilities, are wheelchair accessible. There is no lift to the first floor production studio and meeting rooms. For assistance, please call 03 9416 1035.
St Marys (Sophia Mundi Steiner School): Wheelchair access is via the gate south of the main entrance, and assistance for entry is required. Most ground floor areas are wheelchair accessible. There is no lift to the first floor classrooms, music and education support areas.
For assistance please call 03 9419 9229.
Gardens and grounds: Access through the gardens and grounds is via pathways that are mostly bituminised; some are dirt/gravel. Some surfaces within the Convent precinct may be difficult to navigate and assistance may be required to ensure wheelchair accessibility. Gradients vary from gentle slopes to the north to fairly steep slopes to the south.
The rotunda has two steps leading up to it and is not accessible to wheelchairs (portable ramps are unsuitable for these steps).
Accessible toilets are located within all tenanted buildings on the precinct. The toilets on the ground floor Annexe of the Convent Building are open to the general public 7 days a week (until 11 pm); others are restricted as explained below.
Convent Building: unisex, ground floor, Annexe (via the access ramp between the Convent Bakery and St Helier Community Store or via stepped access on the southern side of the Annexe); accessible toilets are also located on the 1st level and 2nd levels via the lift in the south-west corner (north-east and south-west corners)
Mercator: unisex, ground floor (open daily, variable hours)
Providence: unisex, ground floor (open weekdays during business hours and during Slow Food and Shirt & Skirt market times)
Rosina: ground floor, via the courtyard; (for venue hirers and their guests only)
Sacred Heart: ground floor (open during special events only)
St Euphrasia: unisex, ground floor – accessible entrances from south side of building (3MBS Community Radio; not open to the general public)
St Mary’s: unisex, ground floor (Sophia Mundi Steiner School; not open to the general public)
Baby-change facilities are available in the accessible unisex toilet on the ground floor of the Convent Annexe Building, and in the accessible unisex toilet on the 1st floor of the Convent Building (north-eastern landing, WellBeing wing).
Staff at all establishments are happy to provide assistance.
Boiler Bar: fixed outdoor seating; counter heights 930 mm and 1400 mm.
Convent Bakery: movable seating indoors, a mixture of fixed and movable seating outdoors; service counter height 930 mm, display unit height 1410 mm.
Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshments: movable seating, portable ramp to balcony; service counter height 1200 mm.
Kappaya: limited access and fixed seating indoors, a mixture of fixed and movable seating outdoors; service counter height 1400 mm.
Lentil As Anything: movable seating; service counter height 950 mm.
Rosina Function Space: good access and movable seating.
St Helier Community Store: movable seating; service counter height 960 mm.
All measurements are approximate.
Abbotsford Convent Foundation
Melway reference 44 G5
Tel 03 9415 3600