Looking Back - 1939 to 2011 - the Autobiography of Robert V. J. Padula, OAM

1948 - Balwyn Wildlife Sanctuary and Beckett Park

1941 - Bikes and Cars
1943 - Hiking - Hills and Coasts
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 1
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 2
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 3
1945 - Auburn schooldays - Part One
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Two
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Three
1945 - Upwey and the Puffing Billy
1945 - Gramaphones and Record Players
1946 - Flinders St Station
1946 - Astronomy
1946 - Beach and Swimming Adventures
1946 - Going to the Pictures
1947 - Adventures at the Altona Bungalow
1947 -The Listener-In Magazine
1947 - Balwyn WIldlife Sanctuary
1948 - Fishermen's Bend Aerodrome
1948 - Radio Australia QSL cards
1948 - Excursions
1949 - Australian Rules Football
1949 - Radio Monitoring at Auburn
1950 -Trains and Ships
1950 - Radios for Communications
1950 - Radio Listening Clubs in Australia
1950 - World Radio TV Handbook
1950 - Shortwave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Medium Wave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Radio and Hobbies Magazines
1950 - Discovering shortwave radio at Auburn
1951 - Photography
1951 - Competitions on local radio stations
1952 - Camp Buxton - YMCA Shoreham
1952 Tennis and Ten Pin Bowling
1953 - Stamp Collectiong
1953 Camberwell High School
1954 - Royal Visit to Melbourne
1954 - Shortwave Radio reception at Auburn
1956 - Melbourne's Olympic Games
1956 - Trainee Telecommunications' Technician
1957 - Trainee Technician - field work
1957 - National Service Registration
1958 - Laverton Air Show
1958 - MOOMBA Parade
1958 - Trainee Technician - field work
1959 - The move to Mont Albert
1960 - Working at Deepdene Telephone Exchange
1963 - Trade Unions, Staff Associations, Industrial Relations
1964 - Senior Technician work in the Melbourne CBD
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Amateur Radio
1964 - Media Writing
1964 -Travels
1964 - Engineering Support for International Broadcasters
1965 - Professional Employment with PMG/Telstra
1967 - Professional Qualifications - Institution of Engineers Australia
1967 - Australian Radio DX Club Photo Gallery (to 1979)
1972 - Wireless Institute of Australia
1972 - Natural disasters in Melbourne
1980 - Australian Radio DX Club Gallery (to 1995)
1981 - Award of the Medal of the Order of Australia
1995 - Padula Books
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Oldtime Australian Radio Drama from the 1930s
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Radio Monitoring Clubs in Australia - 1920 to 1949
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Melbourne Picture Theatres - History - 1906 to 1970

1907 - Union Rd, Surrey Hills, Empire Day ceebrations

1937 - Beckett Park, bonfire preparations

1948 - Beckett Park - Cub Scouts flying kites

In the 1940s, a large animal sanctuary known as "WIldife Park" started, fronting Greythorn Rd, and bounded by  Alpha St, Frank St and Greythorn Park, North Balwyn.

It is understood that the land ownership goes back to 1838, owned by the Maughan family, and in the 1940s until 1954 the Park was run by Bill Maughan and his family, who lived on the property.
Over the years it became a popular attraction for family outings, especially on weekends when an open  four-horse drag transported patrons from the Mont Albert tram terminus until 1947 when it was replaced by a bus.
The drags were run by a Dick Gibbs from his horse contracting business in Kew, and carried 20 passengers at a time, from the tram terminus at the corner of Whitehorse and Uniion Rds, Mont Albert.

There were four drags and passengers were charged sixpence (adults) and threepence (children) for the ride from the tram terminus.

Once inside, there were camel and pony rides, a monkey circus, birds, kangaroos and emus.

Most of the wildlife was native to Australia and during the 1940s American servicemen were to make their first acquaintance with kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian devils, wombats, wedge-tailed eagles and emus in their respective enclosures.

A reader wiiting to the Herald-Sun paper in 2010 said:

"Peacocks roamed freely and there was much on offer for the children with free rides on Shetland ponies, donkeys and camels; also a small train which ran on a circular track and a merry-go-round."

The sanctuary closed in 1954 and was sub-divided into 62 blocks - a
ll the animals were moved to Southport in Queensland for a new sanctuary.

But times past are still immortalised by two local street names -- Wildlife and Maughan Parades.

I recall going to the Park in 1946, in the horse and cart -  I remember the huge eagle enclosure, and getting on the donkey for the ride around the circular track. We called that donkey "Razorback" - the animal was very thin and I am still sore from that ride! (See the picture below!)

In those days, the area was mainly paddocks and orchards - nowadays it is a residential suburb, part of Balwyn.

Adjacent to the Sanctuary was a large area of cleared land known as Beckett Park, on a hilltop,which survives to the present.

The park adjoins Maranoa Gardens at one of the highest points in Melbourne. Formerly known as One Tree Hill, Beckett Park's stone observation tower still commands views across Melbourne as far as Mt Macedon. And, in the 1940s and 50s Beckett Park was a traditional site for Empire Day bonfires.

Originally grassy woodland, Beckett Park has been lovingly restored to now be one of our more important revegetation sites of indigenous species. Visitors can walk through patches of grassy woodlands similar to that which would have been there more than 100 years ago.

The park is also home to a war memorial, an adventure playground, picnic tables and seating, and public toilets.

Part of the original bushland has been preserved as the Maranoa Gardens, with walking tracks and pools. On top pf the hill is the Memorial Tower, built in 1919.

From 1906, until 1911,  to celebrate Empire Day, Queen Victoria's Birthday on May 24 each year, there were large torchlight processsions whicgh started at Canterbury and ended at the the Surrey Gardens in Surrey Hills. These were grand affairs, lasting an hour.

Between 1933 and 1938, the Empire Day celebrations were revived,climaxing each year with big bonfires at Beckett Park, until they were abandoned in 1988.

I remember being taken to a bonfire by my father in 1948.

1946 - Donkey Ride at Sanctuary - I am at back, brother at front!

1911 - Union Rd, Surrey Hills, Empire Day celebrations

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