The Mont Albert District - a Pictorial History 1830 to 2013

1930s - Balwyn - Beckett Park Bonfires and Wildlife Sanctuary

Indigenous Heritage
Geology and Topography
Vegetation and Fauna
Climate and Hydrology
1840s to 1870s
1850s - Parish of Nunawading
1852 - Whitehorse Inn
1861 - Postal Services
1880s - Electricity Supply
1880s to 1920s
1882 - Phantom Railways to Doncaster
1883 - Residential Heritage Precinct
1884 - Broughton Park subdivsion
1884 - Brickworks
1885 - Surrey Hills district - map
1888 - Football Clubs
1889 - Gas Supply and Gasworks
1889 - Doncaster Electric Tramway and Tower
1890 - Mont Albert Railway Station
1892 - Surrey Hills Golf Club
1892 - Water Supply, Reservoirs and Sewerage
1899 - Telephone Services
1905 - The Surrey Dive
1907 - Scouts and Guides
1912 - Mont Albert Village Shopping Precinct
1914 - Mont Albert Progress Association
1916 - Californian Bungalows
1917 - Schools
1917 - Wattle Park
1924 - Early Shortwave Broadcasting from the Surrey Hills district
1924 - Black's Estate
1925 - Bus Services
1929 - Tramways
1930 - Cricket Clubs in Mont Albert
1930s - Balwyn - Beckett Park Bonfires and Wildlife Sanctuary
1948 - Grange Tennis Courts
1957 - Pioneer Park
1961 - Surrey Hills Communications Tower
1981 - Box Hill Miniature Railway
Koonung Creek Parklands
Heritage Notes
Mont Albert Road - Early History
Mont Albert Rd - the East End
Elgar Rd - north and south of Mont Albert Rd
Mont Albert Rd - View St to Elgar Rd
Bushland Reserves
Service Associations
Sporting Clubs
Box Hill Institute of TAFE
Walking Trails
The Author's Websites
References and Acknowledgements

1951 - camel rides at Sanctuary

2013 - Beckett Park Tower


1946 - "Razorback" the donkey!
1946 - Sanctuary - author (rear) on "Razorback"
1946 - the author (at rear) on "Razorback"

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.

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.

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.

But times past are still immortalised by two local street names -- Wildlife and Maughan Parades.
The author recalls going to the Park with jhis father in 1947, in the horse and cart - memories of the huge eagle enclosure, and getting on the Shetland pony for the ride around the circular track. We called that pony "Razorback" - the animal was very thin and the author is still sore from that ride!

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

2013 - location of Beckett Park


19037 - flying kites at Beckett Park!

Beckett Park
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.

The author remembers being taken to a bonfire by his father in 1948.

1937 - Beckett Park bonfire

1948 - Beckett Park bonfire

2013 - the Memorial

2013 - Beckett ParlTower

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