Beaumaris Conservation Society History

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Beaumaris Conservation Society’s History and Context

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Formation of BCS

Gramatan Avenue

Heathland Sanctuary










Indigenous Land Occupancy prior to British Settlement: The Bayside City Council website presented in 2016 the Council’s account of the indigenous land occupancy in Bayside prior to the claim

by the British Crown, in 1770, which included all the land in what is now Beaumaris and the adjoining lands and sea. That claim was extended at eastern Australia’s first British settlement in 1788. See a recently reconsidered view of Australia’s indigenous occupancy.  

Original Land Grants: All the land, in what is now Beaumaris, and the adjoining lands and sea, was Crown land, in the then Colony of New South Wales, until the first Crown

grants of freehold land were made soon after the Colony of Victoria was established on 1st July 1851 by its separation from the Colony of New South Wales. The first grants, for the 1,117 acres (447 ha) of all Beaumaris land, except for Government road reserves and the coastal Crown land between Beach Road and the sea, were:



Approximate General Road Boundaries



roods and perches)

T B Darling

Weatherall, Marlo, Balcombe, Reserve


0r, 0p

Stephen Charman

Weatherall, Charman, Balcombe, Marlo


0r, 0p




Haydens, Beach, Keating/Surf


2r, 0p

J McDonald


Reserve, Beach, Haydens


0r, 0p

Frederick Dalgety


Dalgetty, Beach, Reserve


1r, 0p




Cromer, Cloris, Dalgetty


2r, 20p



Cloris, Cromer, Beach, Dalgetty


0r, 25p

Alexander Balcombe


Deauville/Hastings, Beach, Cromer


3r, 24p

R G Luscombe


Wells, Beach, Deauville/Hastings


1r, 0p




Charman, Beach, Wells


2r, 0p


NOTE: Hyperlinks in the table above are to the Kingston

Historical Website, a resource that Bayside City Council regrettably lacks. Its Article 63 states that the name, Beaumaris, was suggested in 1853 by a Penrose Nevins Esq. See also a table on the origin of certain Beaumaris street names based on surnames.


Before BCS: Beaumaris was seen, until the rapid and widespread expansion

of car ownership in the 1950s, as being remote from a railway station. Most people until then had thought it to be impractical for residential use, with that perceived transport deficiency, and its sandy soil and reliance on tank water making it difficult to maintain the introduced plants that were all that most people wanted to grow in their garden in those days. It nevertheless had a state Primary School founded at the time of World War 1. The Dunlop Perdriau Rubber Company owned most of the 180 hectares of the central Beaumaris uncleared or agricultural land that had been prematurely subdivided into residential lots by earlier speculators. The 1930s economic depression enabled it to buy many of the unutilized subdivided residential lots for as little as £25 each. Its plans to consolidate them into one parcel to relocate its Port Melbourne factory there, to build a wharf on the coast at Black Rock, and to build a new suburb for its workers, were announced on the front page of The Herald newspaper on 2nd August 1939. When, next month, Australia, with Britain, declared war on Germany, on 3rd September 1939, the company’s plans proceeded no further, so the attractive coastal land at Beaumaris was saved from being primarily an industrial area.

Much of Dunlop’s land was burnt in the major

bushfire that devastated Beaumaris on 14th January 1944. Beaumaris changed in the 1950s from being mostly a sandy area of indigenous trees with extensive heathlands, as the Lands Department Aerial Photograph of 28th January 1951 shows, and is well detailed in Dr Charles Sutton’s 1911 ‘Notes on the Sandringham flora’, to quickly become a Melbourne suburb. It was inaccurately dismissed as just ‘tea tree scrub’ by many less perceptive or indifferent visitors, including The Herald article’s writer in the link above, but it had many more tree and heathland species and plant communities than that disparaging term suggested, as was later made clear by successful campaigns to reserve heathland, which were strongly supported by the Professor of Botany at the University of Melbourne, Professor John Turner, and Mr Robert Blackwood, as he then was, of the Dunlop Perdriau Rubber Company. World War II was followed by Dunlop’s proposing to revive its 1939 plan for Beaumaris, but a rising demand for residential land led to the company’s abandoning its plans, and selling its land for housing. Some of that land had been envisaged as a spur railway line from Highett that would have terminated at a Beaumaris Railway Station in the block bounded by Gramatan Avenue, Reserve Road, Glenwood Avenue and Gareth Avenue. Dunlop’s 1945 plan for its land did not show that station or line, but a 1963 aerial photograph shows its western half, intended for the line, still undeveloped although the lots around it were covered with houses. Beaumaris differed from most of suburban Melbourne because much of its land was so sandy that it had never been cleared for agriculture, so there were indigenous trees and heath for incoming home builders to conserve, and many did so enthusiastically. Formation of BTPS: The Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society (BTPS), which changed its name to the Beaumaris Conservation Society (BCS) in 1970, was formed at its Inaugural General Meeting on 28th February 1953 with the late Mrs Bea Hosking, of Coronet Hill, 10 Coronet Grove, Beaumaris, who died in 1997, as its first President. The BTPS successfully strove to help alter the accepted pattern of Australian suburban development in which all indigenous vegetation was removed before any land was developed. Its brochure Beau-maris or Bare-maris? subtly pointed out that allotments with trees standing fetched higher prices than those without. See the RECORDS page for a list of BCS officers, minutes of General Meetings, and annual records of BCS activities, from 1953 onwards. The conscious retention of indigenous trees in Beaumaris gardens is mentioned in Robin Boyd’s important 1960 book The Australian Ugliness (P.164), and helps account for the distinctive indigenous vegetation still there. The BTPS also produced publications, mounted informative displays and forums and sold indigenous plants for replanting. It successfully encouraged planting of native trees in streets. Gramatan Avenue Heathland Sanctuary: In 1953 BTPS began its campaign to get the then Sandringham City Council to buy and reserve a Heathland Sanctuary, assisted by persuasive support from Professor John Turner, Professor of Botany at the University of Melbourne – whose biography on the Australian Academy of Sciences website mentions his support for the Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society – and also Dr Jim Willis, Assistant Government Botanist. Mr Robert Blackwood – later Sir Robert, and the foundation Chancellor of Monash University – but then the General Manager of the Dunlop Company, which still owned the land after its plan above to build an industrial suburb and port facilities was abandoned, facilitated its sale to the Council. Although the annual membership fee was 2 shillings ($2.85 in 2016 dollars), compared with the 2016 individual member fee of $10, the BTPS raised £463 (about $12,700 in 2016 dollars) for the cost of most of the fencing. It leased from the Council and managed the 0.27 hectare piece of original heathland reserve that was established as the Gramatan Avenue Heathland Sanctuary from 1960 until Sandringham City Council resumed managing it in 1990. It is now managed by Sandringham Council’s successor, Bayside City Council. BCS proposed to Sandringham Council in 1991 that it should alter its Planning Scheme to give the Sanctuary a Conservation zoning instead of its Residential zoning, as this would help avert any precipitate sale of it, leading to its destruction. Fortunately that alteration was made, and it is now zoned Public Resource and Conservation Zone. Even as late as 1991 there were still some councillors that said it should be sold. Fortunately Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 helps protect the Sanctuary from official proposals because of the important indigenous plants among the fifty-odd species present. 1961-1990: Various large scale coastal development proposals have been successfully opposed by BCS. These included a large commercial Oceanariumbuilding for Ricketts Point in 1964 (the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary has since been declared there, it being fortunate that the “Oceanarium” had not precluded that option), a very large marina for Beaumaris Bay in the early 1970s, and a building to replace, and enlarge and diversify the commercial scope of, the burnt-out Keefer’s Boat Shed in the 1980s. An earlier simple and homely “Tea House” at Ricketts Point, which burnt down, was replaced by a larger all-year-round building in 1985. Creeping extensions of it ever since have impacted on the foreshore reserve there. In its successful Campaign 1969A to save a large area of indigenous trees on the Black Rock foreshore from being cleared for a car park, BCS also initiated the formation of the neighbouring Black Rock and Sandringham Conservation Association. Many of these issues can be found reported in archival copies of local journals such as the Beaumaris Newsletter and the Sandringham and Brighton Advertiser (later to become the Bayside Leader). BCS was a foundation member, in 1970, of Port Phillip Conservation Council Inc, a federation of bayside conservation groups, and has been a member ever since. The BCS banner appeared in the 1982 protest in Melbourne over the damming of Tasmania’s Franklin River. 1991-2000: In 1991 BCS successfully encouraged the former Sandringham City Council to adopt a policy on the choice of trees to be planted in Beaumaris streets that set a goal of at least 80% of street trees to be trees that are indigenous to Beaumaris – that is local native trees rather than exotic trees or trees indigenous to other parts of Australia, but not to Beaumaris. BCS supported Bayside City Council’s improvement of its street tree policy, which has led to its Bayside Street Tree Management Strategy 2008. That strategy, since superseded, did follow that important lead set by its predecessor. The Society became an incorporated body in 1997, and adopted its present Constitution then. Because of a spate of intensive overdevelopment of building blocks and rapid and rampant removal of existing indigenous and other vegetation from residential blocks, and the land then being covered with buildings or paving, facilitated by new planning regulations, some with Orwellian names and rationales such as the Good Design Guide and Melbourne 2030, that had recently become excessively loose and permissive, the Society gained a large number of new members, reaching a membership of over 1,000.

2001-2010: BCS Inc. celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2003, with the last surviving member of the original 1953 Committee, Mrs

Catherine Carroll, as its Guest of Honour. The Society maintains the BCS Inc. Indigenous Flora Register, which lists the numbers and species of indigenous plants our members report having on their land and their nature strips. A summary of the numbers of 12 particular indigenous plants in that Register appears on the BCS Inc. Web site. More details appear on our RECORDS page.


The Society convinced Bayside City Council that the Concourse Green should not be intruded upon for either a car park or a concrete skateboard ramp, and that the ramp should not be placed in either Balcombe Park or Beaumaris Reserve. A significant advance in 2010 was Bayside City Council and Victoria’s Planning Minister agreeing to BCS Inc’s suggestion that the Concourse Bushland should be rezoned from Business 1 to Public Park and Recreation. Its rezoning was gazetted

in February 2010.

A 2008 VNPA article noted BCS’s longevity. BCS Inc. began two major campaigns in this decade. The first was to protect the foreshore reserve between Cromer and Charman Roads from incursion into it by a bicycle road, which it believed should be built on the Beach Road road reserve. The second, against a proposed large Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron marina

in Beaumaris Bay, was marked by the then Planning Minister’s welcome decision to require an Environment Effects Statement for that proposal.


2011-2020: BCS Inc. had, in 2016, a total of 249 members, 56 of whom are Life Members, and 3 of whom are Honorary

Life Members. BCS Inc. failed to achieve a siting of the proposed extension of the bicycle road on Beach Road to save the foreshore reserve from losing a 4 m swathe of established trees, and the replacement of their habitat with a 3 m concrete swathe. An attempt is planned to eventually plant equivalent replacement vegetation, but no extra habitat area, which might or might not survive on whatever land is found elsewhere for that. Objections to overdevelopment made to Bayside City Council and VCAT continued to have some benefit. BCS Inc. gave its views on Bayside City Council’s draft Management Plan for Ricketts Point and Ricketts Point Landside in 2013. The Society’s past and ongoing Campaigns are listed here.

BCS Inc. celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2013, with 61 members and guests attending, including the MLA for Sandringham, Murray Thompson; the Mayor of Bayside, three other Bayside City councillors, and the son and daughter of the first President, and a relative of the second, third and fourth Presidents, plus certain other former Presidents.

A consultants’ recommendation to significantly reduce the area of trees and grass on the Concourse Green, and change its intact character with various supposed ‘improvements’ such as ‘boulder seats’, a shade shelter, and ‘uplighting’ of trees was unanimously rejected by Bayside City Council after public


The Environment Effects Statement for the BMYS Ltd. marina proposal, which was first announced in 2008, is expected to be lodged with the Minister for Planning in June 2017, according

to the company, before its subsequent placement on public exhibition for 30 days for comment, following which the Minister would be likely to appoint a Panel of Inquiry to make recommendations to him as to the proposal’s future. A strong response in opposition to this damaging proposal will be needed from many people if Beaumaris Bay is to be saved from the substantial degradation and disfigurement that this quite unacceptable marina would cause.