Park History

1887 Charles James, acknowledged as one of Melbourne’s first ‘land boomers’, and James Grigg purchased 572 acres to subdivide into the original township of Ocean Grove. December, blocks were advertised for sale. Ocean Grove Park at 2.45ha (as it is today) was part of the lodged plan. The sales plan showed the park as a "Reserve for Sunday School Picnics and other gatherings".

1888 January. The Wesleyan Methodist Church Conference accepted the James and Grigg offer of the park, also a site for a church, and the condition that trustees be appointed to administer the 2.45ha as a park.

1891 A Local Improvement Association cleared the park, installed seats and shelters.

1897 The Park was ploughed and grassed by a local farmer.

1925 A local farmer arranged fencing of the park and the erection of a scorer’s shed/stand as the community used it for sport and passive recreation.

1926 The trustees, after the Progress Association rejected an offer of a formal lease, leased the Park, as a campsite, to the Methodist Young People’s Department.

1939 Whilst there were occasional youth camps, the community continued to maintain and use the reserve. It was the only land set aside as a park.

1939-1945 The Army occupied the Park for much of this period.

1945 The Trustees locked the gates to the Park, but the community continued to use it.

1955 Bellarine Council, believing it to be a public park, refused to permit the Church to erect huts on it. This was over ruled by the Dept. of Public Works, and buildings from the Eildon Weir project were installed.

1957-1994 The buildings were used by various groups and were promoted as the Ingamells Conference Centre. Hence the confusion in the name. The Ocean Grove Park Inc. (the Association) has reverted to the original, correct name "Ocean Grove Park".

1995 The Park was in a state of neglect. The Uniting Church Property Trust, having removed all buildings, applied for the Park to be rezoned to Residential for it to be sold and subdivided.  Following many objections the rezoning was abandoned.  The Church argued that it owned the property rather than holding it in trust as a park.

 The Church advised it would sell the community the Park for $800,000. The price was beyond a community of 10,000. However an ad hoc group started to raise funds and called several public meetings.

1996   In March, Ocean Grove Park Inc. was established. It’s main purpose being to save and develop the Park for passive recreation and to protect its significant indigenous vegetation. The Association pressed the issue of the land being held in trust. It put a sworn valuation of $540,000 to the Church, made comprehensive submissions to it, Council and local MPs. It arranged for a eucalypt taxonomist, Kevin Rule, to inspect the Park’s eucalypts. He considered the Yellow Gums significantly different from other described forms; published a paper and lodged specimens with the Melbourne Herbarium. He named the species Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp bellarinensis - Bellarine Peninsula Yellow Gum. The Geelong Environment Council, at the request of the Association, nominated the subspecies for listing as an endangered species under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.

The Church reinstated its rezoning application. Some 800 individual objections and an 1850 signature petition were lodged. VCAT heard objectors, including the Association represented by an experienced witness, and a barrister paid with Association funds.

1997   VCAT disallowed the objections saying only 35% should be a park. The Greater Geelong Council adopted the residential rezoning, but with just 25% open space, and forwarded it to the Minister for Planning for approval. In December, after several representations, the Minister visited the Park and announced he had purchased it and would hold it for 3 years if the Association entered into an agreement with him to maintain it and raise $200,000 in that time (half the purchase price).  If the Association did not raise the money all or part of the park would be sold.

If successful the Park would transfer to the Trust for Nature, but the Association would have to enter into a Park Management Agreement with the Trust whereby the Association would be fully responsible for the management, maintenance and development of the Park. The Association accepted the challenge and commenced to maintain the Park.

1998 The Association continued to raise funds with renewed vigour. A Conservation and Management Strategy was adopted and became the basis for ongoing work. Removal of woody weeds and dead trees commenced. Some 150 Yellow Gums were planted, assisted by a Trees Victoria grant. Water and power were reticulated along the west side of the Park. In December the combined Churches conducted Carols in the Park for the first time.

1999 The First Tranquility Fair was conducted. Almost half the external fence was restored with the voluntary help of a contractor. State Labor electioneered, in part, on the basis that if it won the community would only have to contribute what the Association had raised to date to purchase the Park. A Labor Government would fund the rest. Labour won. The Association had raised $100,000, and the former Liberal Government had committed $200,000 so Labor contributed $100,000

2000 February. The Trust for Nature became the owner, a Land Management Agreement was signed and the Association formally took full responsibility for the Park.

 The Association prepared a Park Development and Management Strategy, incorporating the Conservation and Management Strategy. It was inserted into the new Greater Geelong Planning Scheme to ensure the Park’s retention for passive and informal recreation. Fund raising continued for the implementation of the Park strategy and for costs associated with volunteer members maintaining the Park.

2000 December. The Bellarine Peninsula Yellow Gum was added to the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act list of threatened Species.

2001 A Master Plan was adopted and, consistent with it, a playground installed for younger children, accessed by an all weather path. It was financed by a $10,000 AG and ID Johnston Trust grant and $6,000 from the Association. A ride-on mower was also purchased.

2002 Additional seats and picnic settings were installed, together with a flagpole and a brush cutter was purchased. Maintenance and fund raising continued.

2003 Water was reticulated down the east side of the Park. A drinking fountain was connected near the playground. Investigations and costing were undertaken into the provision of a second playground and construction of a fun and fitness trail, including exercise equipment. Design for a gazebo commenced.

2004 A power pruner and a power posthole auger were purchased with a Federal grant. Grant applications were made to the Victorian Government. One to the Small Town Development Fund (STDF) and one to the Community Facility Funding Programme (CFFP).

2005 Both the grant applications were successful. The STDF grant was $13,000 (ex GST) on a $ for $ basis to be matched by the Association. It was for a fun and fitness trail, a gazebo, 6 new seats and a drinking fountain. Also for seat arms and completing brick paving of Park entries for the convenience of the disabled.

 The CFFP grant, on a $1.50 for $1 basis,  was for $29,143 (ex GST)  for all ages exercise equipment to complement the trail, play equipment, and a basketball hoop and pad for more mature children. The Barwon Primary Care Forum also provided $3,500.

Work commenced on both projects and a lychgate at The Avenue entrance with materials funded by OGRE, when, unfortunately, it disbanded. All projects involved considerable volunteer labour.

2006 In April the Association celebrated the completion of the 3 projects and also the 10th anniversary of its formation to save the Park. It has raised more than $375,000, including grants, since its formation (excluding the $300,000 government funding for the park’s purchase). This major task of fund raising needs to continue to keep improving and maintaining the park for everyone.

To maximize its enjoyment for everyone it welcomes community support, through membership, volunteering, donations and support for its numerous community activities on the Park.

Ocean Grove Park is truly
"The Natural Heart of Ocean Grove."