One of Sydney’s best kept secrets, the Rivendell estate was the film location for Lex Luthor’s mansion in Superman and was included in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, to name a few. It all began in 1822 when Thomas Walker arrived in Sydney from Leith, Scotland to work for his uncle. On the retirement of the senior partners, the business was transferred to Thomas, where he expanded the commercial interests. In 1860 Thomas married Jane Steel Hart and had one child, Eadith, in 1861.
Prior to Jane’s death in 1870, Yaralla House was built as a family residence. When Thomas Walker died in 1886, his will left £100,000 to be allocated for the foundation of a Convalescent House to be built at Rocky Point, west of his Yaralla estate. Building commenced under the eyes of Eadith in 1891 and in 1893 the hospital was opened.
After opening, over 70, 000 patients convalesced at the hospital, including servicemen from World War I and World War II. In 1977, the Rivendell Adolescent Unit led by founding director Professor Marie Bashir (later the Governor of NSW), was moved from its setting at Broughton Hall to the Thomas Walker Hospital which continues to benefit and treat 500 families every year.
Over a number of years, Rivendell’s buildings and grounds have been used in several movies and television shows. These include ‘Flirting’, with Nicole Kidman and Noah Taylor, ‘Bangkok Hilton’ with Nicole Kidman, ‘The Man who Sued God’ with Billy Connolly, Judy Davis and Colin Friels and ‘Superman Returns’ with Kevin Spacey and Brandon Routh. In the 1990’s, Rivendell was even carpeted in a ‘blanket of snow’ for a small outdoor scene in the movie, ‘Lorenzo’s Oil’.
The Thomas Walker Estate is open once a year to the public and this year we are pleased to bring the inaugural 2017 Rivendell Flower Show to the local community.