Kinley Marks Family History Month

August 8, 2022

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To mark National Family History Month, the 140+ year Kinley Site was proud to host a series of guided tours of the historic site in collaboration with the Lilydale Library on Saturday 6th August, 2022.

Kinley (previously known as Cave Hill) was purchased by Scottish entrepreneur, David Mitchell (father of renown opera singer Dame Nellie Melba) in 1878.  Already the owner of the Burnley Brickworks, Mitchell officially relaunched the site as Cave Hill Marble and Limestone Quarries. Through the Brickworks, Mitchell had already secured building contracts for the Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Menzies’ Hotel, the New Zealand Loan Company’s Wood Store and Scots Church (amongst others) but his greatest challenge was the construction of the World-Heritage-listed, Melbourne’s Exhibition Building in 1879-1880 using Cave Hill limestone.

In 1882, Mitchell was instrumental in the opening of the Lilydale railway line which eased the  quarry’s transport burdens with the heavy bags of limestone and limestone products no longer transported by horse-and-cart.  Quarry engineers also introduced some inventive processes for mining and processing limestone, shifting from horse-drawn to steam power before the advent of electricity.

David retired as a building contractor in 1899, but continued to manage the production of limestone at the Cave Hill estate where he had also established milk, cheese and bacon factories.

Cave Hill continued to be operated by the Mitchell family until 2002 when it was onsold to Sibelco continuing to produce the well known Lilydale topping until 2015.

Today many of Cave Hill’s historic buildings remain on site including the lime kilns, cheese and bacon factories and farm buildings.  Whilst the intention is to restore and transform the buildings into community-focused facilities, for now the building remain as they were and provide insights into Kinley’s fascinating past.

Interested in attending future historic tours?  Register your interest at


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