Celebrating Our History

In 2022 Northeast Health Wangaratta celebrated 150 years of service to our community.

The Wangaratta hospital was established in 1872 on the current site and later named the Wangaratta District Base Hospital (WDBH). Over time, the hospital evolved into the modern health service we now know as Northeast Health Wangaratta.

In May 1973, Wangaratta District Base Hospital saw the establishment of a 40-bed ward respectively named after Archdeacon Percival Hensby Dicker, a respected Committee member of the Advisory Board of WDBH.  In August 1985, the Matthew Rohan Wing, an additional 30-beds commenced operation and was respectively named after Dr.Matthew Rohan, who served actively on the hospital’s Board of Management as well as an Honorary Surgeon for over 34 years at the hospital. In September 1985, the total complement of nursing home beds amounted to 72-beds, including three respite beds (hospital relief) for those members of the community providing care to their loved ones.

In 2007, WDBH now known as Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) saw yet another milestone in the history of providing Aged Care Services to the Community. The doors of our new Residential Aged Care Facility, named Illoura meaning ‘a peaceful place’ was opened for business on December 12th, 2007. Taking just over 12 months to build, Illoura provided 46 single and 8 double bedrooms with ensuites, catering for a total of 62 residents. In 2017, this number increased to 72-beds, following an additional 12-bed extension.

Remembering P.H. Dicker and Matthew Rohan Wing, WDBH

May 2018 marked 45 years since the opening and 10 years since the closure of what was formerly known as the P.H. Dicker Wing and Matthew Rohan Wing of the Wangaratta District Base Hospital.

NHW Nurses from WWII

Every ANZAC Day we hold a service at NHW, and as part of this service, we honour and remember the two brave Australian Army nurses from our hospital that were killed in WWII.

Caroline Ennis and Dorothy Elmes volunteered for the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and joined other Australian nurses in Singapore.

On 12th February 1942 during the closing stages of the defence of Singapore and only three days before the fall of Malaya, 65 nurses of 2/4th Causality Clearing Station, 2/10th and 2/13th General Hospitals and the 8th Australian Division and over 250 civilian men, women and children were evacuated on the ‘SS Vyner Brooke”.

On 14th February the ship was bombed by Japanese aircraft and sunk as it passed southward through Banka Strait.

Although all of the nurses survived the bombing, 12 were either drowned before that could reach lifeboats or were swept out to sea and lost. Others spent three days endeavouring to reach land on Banka Island, having to contend with tides and currents and to navigate through mangrove swamps. Some were helped ashore by friendly natives.

One group of 22 came ashore by lifeboat on the 16th February they surrendered to Japanese troops who ordered them to walk back into the sea where they were machine-gunned by the Japanese soldiers. Only one nurse, Sister Vivien Bullwinkle, survived that massacre.

Of the 65 nurses who left Singapore on ‘SS Vyner Brooke’, 12 drowned, 21 were murdered on Radji Beach, and 32 were taken Prisoner of War (POW). 8 of these subsequently died in captivity. The remaining 24 were later rescued and returned to Australia.

You can visit the Australian War Memorial website for more information on Caroline Ennis and Dorothy Elmes