Shoreham Beach Pictorial Heritage - 1840 to 2011

YMCA Camp Buxton - Part 2 - 1952 Visit

About this Project
Heritage Timeline
Heritage Pines
YMCA Camp Buxton - Part 1 - History
YMCA Camp Buxton - Part 2 - 1952 Visit
YMCA Camp Buxton - Part 3 - 2011 Gallery
The Beach
Beach Hikes
Maps of Shoreham
References and Bibliography

1952 Jan 13.outside our tent. From left Ken, me, Walter!

One of the main objectives of the camp was to allow boys aged between 10 and 14 years from underprivileged families across Victoria to experience a holiday in a bushland retreat in a supervised environment, for 10 days. In the Christmas period each year.

I was very lucky to be selected for the Camp fopr ten days between January 9 and 19, 1952.

My tent-mates were Walter (from Melbourne) and Ken (from Western Victoria).

By coincidence I had already known Walter as he and I attended the same Primary School (Auburn Central no. 2948) until the end of Year 7 in 1952. We would both go on to Camberwell High School from 1953-1955, years 8-10. |

Walter lived in Hawthorn, adjacent to my own suburb of Auburn, and we “hung out” a lot. We were also members of the YMCA Boys’ Club, which met each Saturday morning at the then YMCA Central Building, City Rd, just past Princes Bridge (that building is long gone, and the site is now part of the Arts Complex).

Those Saturday morning meetings comprised gymnasium, a swim in the heated pool (swim attire was not permitted – everyone was starkers!), and a meeting session where boys would sit in groups around large tables for guided chats and discussions.

The Boys Club also arranged day tours to places near Melbourne during school holiday periods – I went on several of these, which included a snow trip to Mt Donna Buang in August1951 and to the Wonthaggi coal mines in September 1952. My photos were taken on my Box Brownie Camera, which is still in good working very well 60 years later!

I lost touch with Ken after the Shoreham Camp.

Walter is currently active in the Camberwell High School ex-Students’ Association (“CHESS”)

In late 2010 I visited the site of Camp Buxton, now a B&B. Rediscovering the surviving buildings and features really bright back many memories. I felt that I had been transported back to 1952 – the walking track down to the beach looked much the same as it did in 1952!

Now, there are houses nearby, but the road is still unsealed and the pine trees have grown to enormous heights.

Some of the original bunkhouses survive and have been converted into self-contained cabins for B&B guests. These were originally used to accommodate the Camp leaders.

The original hall and camp admin centre has been converted into the B&B Manager’s residence.

The old windmill is still there, next to the toilets!

The Chapel, Pulpit and Benches survive – I sat on the same stone bench as I did in 1952!

In 2010 and 2011 I revisited the route of our hike we did along the beach to Flinders in 1952 – the seaweed is still the same!

Yes, we did manage to convince the Camp leaders in 1952 to allow us to do the beach hike to Pt Leo!

I can recollect many of the activities we did, and the boys I met, which remain with me forever.

In the years which the camp operated, several thousands boys attended.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this story! If by some chance you were one of the thousands of boys who attended the camp between 1939 and 1960, I'd be interested in hearing from you - perhaps you might have some photos?

1952 Jan 13 - left Dad, Maurice,Walter (sitting), Ken (top), Mum, my brother

1952 Jan 13: left sitting - me, Ken, my brother; left rear Dad, Maurice,Walter

Jan 12 1952 Walter and Ken at Flinders Memorial


We were transported to and from the Camp in converted furniture vans, which started and finished at the YMCA Victorian HQ in City Rd, Port Melbourne. We sat on stools in the van, and arrived at the Camp in the afternoon.

On arrival, we would be divided into groups of three similar-aged boys, allocated our tent, given straw to make up our mattresses, and given a kerosene lantern for each tent. Straw and kerosene would not be allowed now, in case of fire, but there were no accidents then.

When I was there, there were 60 boys in camp, in 20 tents.

The tents had previously seen service for army training on the site during 1941-1943 and were army issue canvas, with flaps, on wooden floors.

They were stifling hot, as it was mid summer, invaded by insects.

We had to do kitchen duties, washing dishes, peeling spuds, and waiting on tables. After breakfast, there was sport on the oval: cricket, softball, basketball or other activities.

Toilet facilities were at the bottom edge of the property (still there in 2011!) and a water tank on a high platform and windmill were adjacent (also still there!)

The Hall and Camp Manager’s Residence were near the entrance gates and were the first features seen on arrival, with the tall Flagpole prominent at the front entrance.

A small tuck-shop was in the hall, where boys could purchase snacks, drinks and other items. Boys were not permitted to have actual cash – they had accounts in a “Camp Bank” which had been set up by their parents or guardians on arrival.

We were not allowed to go outside the confines of the Camp – all excursions were in the company of trained camp leaders.

The only exception to this was on Sundays when families and friends were allowed to visit the camp and we were permitted to accompany the visitors outside the camp to the bushland and beach areas.

My mother, father, and younger brother, with a family friend (the  driver, in his 1948 Ford Prefect sedan reg. no SS806!), visited me at the camp on Sunday January 13, 1952. We walked down the track to the beach, explored the rock pools and took some photos.

The evenings were exciting, roudy and noisy, mainly in the Hall! Each group had to do a charade – these were what we would remember as “Shadow Plays” with the action taking place behind large back-lit white sheets, in front of the entire assemblage of boys. There was much laughter at these performances!

There were sing-songs, a piano, films, slideshows, jokes, hymns, pantomines, vaudeville acts, but radios were not permitted!

A song I remember was “The Quartermaster’s Store”, popular even now in the scouting movement.

It started:
“There were mice, mice, eating all the rice
In the stores, in the stores
There were mice, mice, eating all the rice
In the Quartermaster’s`store “

Then there was Ten Green Bottles. 

”There are ten green bottles hanging on the wall, 
and if one green bottle should accidently fall,
there’ll be nine green bottles hanging on the wall”

This went on for many verses, with a green bottle falling each time!

At the end,

 “There was one green bottle hanging on the wall,
and if that green bottle should accidently fall,
there’ll be no green bottles hanging on the wall.”

These songs were also popular heard on long bus trips for younger kids.

Other songs we sang included John Brown’s Body, Alouette, many immortalized within the scouting movement, some derived from wartime tunes.

I learned a lot of things about life at the Camp. I learned to play tennis there for the first time – Ken and I would grab racquets and balls from the main office and go over to the porous court nearby. The remains of the court and adjacent concrete cricket pitch and oval are still visible next to the property.

might add that this was a “Boys’” camp – girls belonged to the Young Womens Christian Association and attended their own camps!

Our ages ranged from 10 to 14. Each group of three boys had a Mentor, an older trained youth leader who looked after our well-being, and made sure that everything was OK with us. Each Mentor had to look after four tents.

All meals were taken in the hall, which doubled as the canteen.

At age 12, we had become teenagers and were starting to see the world from a new perspective. The lack of female company was a continual problem, but that was the sacrifice we had to make!
We were encouraged to take part in a range of guided outdoor activities, such as tennis, swimming in the nearby beach, hiking in the adjacent forest and on the beach, badminton, cricket, basketball and baseball. The Oval was used for many of those activities – this is now owned by the local council and is within the adjacent Bushland Reserve and has now become a waterlogged lagoon!

The afternoons were for swimming, either on sea-weed-soaked Shoreham Beach, or if we pleaded with the leaders, we would go to the Point Leo surf beach, about 3 km to the north.

During the time I was there some overnight hikes were offered, but only a few boys went on them. One was all the way to Arthurs Seat, usually over two days, sleeping out overnight. A second hike was to Red Hill, sleeping out on one night. A third was a day trip to Flinders, which I attended on Thursday January 17 1952- we came back by bus
We used to enjoy camp fires, strolls, late at night on the foreshore. We always had a Sunday church service in an open air chapel, with a stone Pulpit and stone benches.

Jan 13 1952 Beach Walk to Pt Leo - Walter with camera

1952 Jan 12 Flinders jetty, our beachwalk

1952 Jan 12 Ocean Beach, Flinders, our beachwalk

1952 Jan 12, our beachwalk, Flinders view

1952 My postcard I sent to my mother!

1952 Picture side of my postcard with view of Flinders

This is a Rose Series postcard I sent to my Mother, after we had returned from our beach walk to Flinders of Jan 12, 1952. It was actually posted in a special post box at the Camp Office, and was not mailed until several days later!
This is what I wrote:
Dear Mum,

I got this card at Flinders when we went on our hike on Thursday. I spent 1/6 there. The postcard cost 4d. We came back in the bus. Friday -  Robert"

Interestingly, the postmark on the card is 19 January 1951 - this was a mistake made at the Shoreham Post Office - it should have read 19 January 1952!
The picture side of the card shows a view of West Head at Flinders.

Comments, and reactions are welcome, to Bob Padula