A NSW Government website


History walk connects RPA's past to the present

Tour designed to engage visitors in RPA's rich history. 

Participants look up as a tour guide points at historical exterior tiles crafted to depict a mother holding her newborn baby.
SydneyConnect Image: District Acting Director of Heritage and Environment Scott Andrews leading the RPA History Walk

A revamped walking tour of RPA’s campus has been launched to coincide with the hospital’s 140th anniversary – giving people an opportunity to learn more about the history of the hospital in Sydney Local Health District.

“The RPA History Walk is designed to engage staff, patients and the community in the rich history of the hospital,” Scott Andrews, the District’s Acting Director of Heritage and Environment, explained.

“It also offers visitors an activity as many are visiting family and friends daily, or are staying locally while undergoing treatment,” he said.

RPA first opened its doors in 1882 as a 146-bed hospital with 1069 patients admitted in its first year of operation.

Now, RPA is one of Australia's premier hospitals serving the local community and patients from across NSW, Australia and the world.

Scott worked with Daniel Dompierre-Outridge, an intern from The University of Sydney’s Master of Museum and Heritage Studies, to enrich the experience, with nine stops on the walk, including a visit to the RPA Museum.

The stops include the hospital’s heritage-listed administration building, which still has many of the features it had when it was opened in 1882.

And, the Imhotep statue, depicting an ancient Egyptian figure considered to be the first physician in recorded history, which was unveiled in 1938 outside Gloucester House.

Other key sights include the hospital’s pathology building, chapel and a new Nursing History Wall in the King George V building which celebrates the journey and achievements of nursing and midwifery at RPA.

There is now an interpretive sign and QR code at each stop on the walk, which allows participants to access extra information, as well as a collection of historical images that are being publicly shared for the first time.

For Scott, it’s difficult to choose just one highlight.

“I do love the King George V building with its bass reliefs on the external walls, its inter-war style with art deco touches and sandstone and granite statues out the front. I also love the fact it was the first standalone hospital for woman and babies in NSW,” he said.

The walk is important because it also documents RPA’s history of innovation, he said.

“Each building on the campus demonstrates either a first in health in NSW or a unique example. This vision is still central to the hospital’s culture today and we can continue to connect with it and celebrate it by learning about the heritage we have around us,” he said.

The RPA History Walk is free and starts outside the hospital’s administration building on Missenden Road, Camperdown.